N
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  • Freeware
  • ?
  • Puzzle
  • 2004
  • 1
  • in-game progress save
  • 2
  • $0.00
  • ?
8  |  N For PC
Darryl B. , 6/21/2006 11:45:52 PM
N For Wow, is THIS a very amazing piece of freeware, what with having tons of mind- (and sanity-) bending puzzles, enough to challenge you for up to months to come. And it's horribly frustrating. And brilliant. And makes you want to throw and break tons of furniture due to frustration-maddening gameplay. And brilliant again.

Welcome to the world of the simply-titled N...for ninja, the mysterious, very rare breed of warriors who can perform amazing moves, kill with precision, then slip back into the shadows as if they never existed.

And their identities must never be revealed due to...? Their greed of gold. Ha ha! Yep, you must pick up as much gold as possible to keep you alive per level. At last, the TRUTH is finally told about the greedy, materialistic ninja order! No wonder only a select few can join their clan!

Somewhat reminiscent of Lode Runner, where gold must also be collected, here it's mandatory, since there is a timer in the upper left hand part of your screen; the more gold you collect, the more time you're allotted (/added) to finish the level. However, that and being a puzzle game pretty much ends all comparisons to Lode Runner from there...

Unlike Lode Runner, a fall from too high can kill your ninja. However, you can easily slow yourself down against a wall to prevent a fatal fall. You also have unlimited lives until you run out of time (more on this later). The controls work pretty well in general, although some moves are a bit sluggish, and there are too many microscopic movements to be made at times that will also cause you to die as well as the game progresses (multiple times per level!).

The design of this game was really well thought out; there's a built-in Help guide that details everything, from your moves to objects to enemies in the game. Your ninja can perform amazing jumps and slide down walls just as impressively. Certain objects can help you out as well, from objects that you can land on to ones that will launch you high into the air, as well as remotes that will open locked doors, and some levels require all of the gold to be gathered before the exit will appear so you can proceed to the next level.

Unfortunately there are enemies that will knock your ninja butt back the land of Video Games That Stereotype and Taint the Ninja Image (i. e. kill you). There's a platform that only it's blue edge will kill you upon coming into contact with it (the other edges are safe to touch, if not even ride on). There are a kind of floating robot drones that will only speed up once you're in their line of sight; the rest of the time, they're harmless morons whose souls (if they had one) couldn't make a good plumber, let alone a ninja. Others will shoot a cool-looking laser beam that will blow you to pieces (which also looks cool as your arms and legs get blown off), other kinds will fire rockets that home in on you (which also look kind of cool, except that you'll have to run like hell to avoid them), another kind has a chaingun (take a wild guess how those operate), and another kind will home in on you along a platform or floor, among other certain nasties.

Reminds me, as I back up to something that I said earlier, aside from your ninja looking kind of cool when he moves (and especially once he gets killed), the graphics are a bit awful, as most of the robot drones are simple geometric shapes, as are most of the levels (the latter of which I think fits, but not the other). The game is mostly quiet (in-game music would ruin the mysterious stealth of it's ninja theme), and the sound effects are fitting, especially with the unusual, yet calming sound as you gather more and more gold for your materialistic self (if building mogul Donald Trump were a ninja, he'd be this game character, if he wasn't so chubby).

This game should get a 9, maybe even the illustrious 10, due to it's ton of levels, complexity and challenge (plus it even feels a bit original to me -- somehow -- even though there's been all kinds of puzzle games somewhat similar to this over the years), but unfortunately, it can get severely difficult and maddeningly frustrating, as you can get through a dozen or two levels within a couple of hours, then have one that screws you over dozens of times, resulting in tons of deaths (the game won't end unless you run out of time during a level) that you must go over and over and over again until you can beat it.

I think it's really wrong to have a level where one little slip-up can result in being killed this way, or you can fall a different way, then that way could kill you if you land here, or do this, or you do that and you're dead meat, etc., etc. I played this for a few hours one night, got stuck on one level, went through it some more the next night, then didn't go back to it for weeks afterwards, since just about every single move had mines that could kill you, then once you sprung all the devices to open up the exit, you had to go all the way BACK through the level to the very beginning to get out, which was just as near impossible as just getting to the point where you could get the damn exit door open.

Once I finally got through that level, I was having trouble with the next one, totally forgetting that when I ran out of time, the game would end. So I was sent back to the beginning batch of levels that I was currently on...since there's no cheat code (that I know of) to skip individual levels, you're just sent to a main level batch. (Note: each batch of levels is known as an Episode, with several Levels per Episode until you beat that Episode, then the next batch of Episodes will be unlocked. The game will keep track of how many you've been through, and you can go back to an earlier Episode if you wish.)

So I'm not sure what's to become of N for me, if I'll eventually beat it, or what. At least it came on a Retro Gamer disc that a friend of mine sent me, so I can just remove it from the ol' hard drive if I want. The game can be downloaded at http://www.harveycartel.org/metanet/, but DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK: it's very addicting and time-consuming (after all, it's won game awards), and it can drive you insane enough to want to hunt down and find the guy who made it so you can smack him around with a baseball bat. However, my "business associate", Guido, informed me that he can't locate N's creator. So he should consider himself lucky (not that anything would actually *happen* to him or anything, it'd just be an "accident" [and a coincidence]).

So don't feel bad if you are unable to join the clan of the ninja. I'm not sure if I'm worthy myself. (Rents the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie to laugh at it's portrayal of "ninjas" in that film, ah haaaaaah ha) 8/10

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