Metanet’s remastered the way of the ninja
Can it really be ten years since the arrival of the original N? Back then, was numbered among the vanguard of the Flash game wave, being a deeply nuanced, super-challenging platformer beautifully crafted in stark vector graphics by a fiercely independent developer.
Not much has changed, even though Metanet has since launched N+ for XBLA and handhelds, and relaunched the original game last year for browsers as N v2.0. N++ is true to its name: it’s N, pure and simple, but there’s lots more of it. “We were originally planning 500 levels, like in N+, but it’s turned out at 1,000,” says Raigan Burns, one half of Metanet, with something of a sigh. But he’s sure that this is the last N. “It’s the definitive one. We’ve made all the levels we can.”
“Well, there are more levels that can be designed, but we’d repeat ourselves,” clarifies
NThis finely calibrated toolset preceded Meat Boy’s by three years, and is the bedrock on which Metanet has assembled a lexicon of the other half of Metanet, Mare Sheppard, seemingly mindful of both the appeal of N++’ s level editor and the wisdom of crowds.
That such a simple premise can support not only repeated visits and releases but also thousands of different levels is remarkable. It’s down to the feel of N’s ninja protagonist, who captivated audiences all those years ago in Flash with the fidelity of his movement physics. This is a platforming hero imbued with perfectly judged inertia and a floaty hop, able to pull off wall jumps and level-crossing leaps. Gravity counts, too: running up a hill is slower than sprinting down it, and hitting the ground too fast will kill, though you can use angled walls to help manage your velocity.
Your ninja’s inertia makes positioning mines at the top of small inclines a killer, while square bounce blocks, which depress like sponge when you step on them, require extra care to jump from cleanly.
The goal of each level is to get from the start point to the end, but usually you’ll need to find switches to open the way, and these may send you on circuitous routes. The golden yellow dots fill your time meter; the greater the remaining time you have when the level’s complete, the bigger your score for the level will be