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

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