N Times: The Way Of The Ninja Updates

Take that, anti-aliasing!
Metanet’s charming platformer N is so old the only wallpapers available at their site are in a 4:3 aspect ratio. That’s as close to a ‘yo momma’ joke as I’m comfortable making, but it’s also true – the high-res desktop backgrounds are 1600×1200. Out of curiosity, is there anyone reading this on a 4:3 monitor? Are you visiting your parents? The platform puzzle game was released in 2005, which in game time means it’s due a comfortable and easy retirement at one of our specially constructed facilities. But N has other ideas: Version 2.0 has just been released, and the old Ninja’s joints are as flexible and detachable as ever.

Everything is the same but different, but the most obvious additions are the 2-player local co-op multiplayer, and the new GUI in the level editor. There are a pile of new levels as well. Under the hood, they’ve added an account system that’ll allow you to store your create levels on the Metanet server, and it’ll save your progress across the hundreds of levels the game has.

It’s an old game, so if you’re unaware of its existence I’ll apologise for introducing it to you now. The little ninja looks benevolent, but it’s one of the most frustratingly addictive games you’ll ever play. It’s like a proto-Super Meat Boy: death will claim you often, but the mistakes are all your own fault. Here’s the update trailer

N was a favourite of many of my friends back in the day. It introduced me to DDA, ‘Don’t Do Anything’ levels that were amazing creations in the editor. All you’d need to do is hold down one button and the level would get you to the end.


  1. Rikard Peterson says:

    My gaming computer has a 5:4 monitor. (An LG L1730P @ 1280×1024) It’s survived three different computers, I think, but it’s working well, so I have had no reason to replace it.

    (But the laptop I’m typing this on is 16:10.)

    • Mr. Mister says:

      16:10 for the win. I’m so sad it seems to have lost the resoluition wars…

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      phuzz says:

      I’m reading this on my trusty old 19″ Sony 4:3, but i do my gaming on the 16:10 next to it.

      • Wedge says:

        Yep, I have a lovely 20″ 1600×1200 CRT in a dual monitor setup above and behind my main widescreen monitor (corner desk, so there’s a lot of space there). Got it for $10 from Goodwill back when they still carried CRT’s on the shelves. They make great cheap secondary utility monitors if you have the space, since the resolution gives you significant space to work with.

    • Alien426 says:

      Not only 4:3, but also CRT! Samsung SyncMaster 950p…

    • Saldek says:

      This sounds like the Antiques Roadshow. ^^
      “It would appear to be a Samsung SyncMaster 950p. See here, the makers stamp, faint and worn, but almost certainly genuine…”

  2. Gurrah says:

    Don’t be slandering 1600×1200! I’ve got a brilliant Eizo S2100, it’s 6-7 years old by now and still performing like a champ.

  3. db1331 says:

    A guy I used to work with played this ALL DAY. He got to be Godly at it. Watching him play the tougher levels was like performance art.

    • ankh says:

      I played this all day and every day during my first year at uni. This game is brilliant

    • vivlo says:

      i used to play this… on nintendo ds. Not all day, but close enough. If i have thumb arthrosis one day, it will be because of that, i swear.

    • Wedge says:

      I was quite addicted to the original release, even trying to compete for high scores on the leaderboards, and I still consider it a high bar for the whole challenge platformer genre thing that resulted since.

  4. Maximinus says:

    I’m reading this on a 4:3 monitor (admittedly my alternate monitor).

    Also, “we put the N you’ll add the FU” is the greatest joke I’ve ever heard from a game developer, but the rest of the video is so boring.

    • Ross Angus says:

      I liked the music: it reminded me of Clockwork Orange.

    • vivlo says:

      “the rest of the video is so boring.”

      that’s because you never played the game (if you did never play the game ?..)
      and that music, too, is ace

  5. JonClaw says:

    Been waiting for this for years…

  6. SominiTheCommenter says:

    I’m reading this on elinks, 80×132 characters!

  7. Freud says:

    I have one 1600*1200 and one 1920*1200 monitor.

    I’ll resist the wicked ways of 16:9 for as long as I can.

  8. Gonefornow says:

    Jazz Jackrabbit 2 introduced me to DDA elements with its robust editor.
    Infinite spring pad and sucker tube shenanigans.
    Good times.

    More N is more N and that is prime.
    Not that I ever finished the original 100 episodes.

    The notion of an enhanced editor tickles me fancy nonetheless.

  9. Unknown says:

    This is the only game that ever made me break a laptop screen by punching it in anger. I did eventually beat all the original levels, but it took like 3 years of on-and-off playing. Not sure if I want to go through that again. Truly one of the first great indie games.

  10. MaXimillion says:

    I’m reading this on my 5:4 19” secondary monitor (1280*1024@85Hz), next to my 4:3 21” main monitor (1600*1200@85Hz).

  11. squareking says:

    oh GOD

    The hours of frustration I lost to this game. I loved N. The elegant and clean design. The spunky ninja. The everything that wished to end you.

    Also I use 16:9 at home and at work. 16:10 is really alien to me. Oh and re: 2nd video, the DDA map at ~6min is amazing.

  12. Hahaha says:

    So it’s N+ ….?

    • Scio says:

      The actual N+ looked rather good I thought, not that N’s minimalist charm has worn out. There will be an N++ though, hopefully within the year.

  13. Amstrad says:

    Reading on a 4:3 that only does 1024×768. Haven’t gotten around to replacing my widescreen primary after it died and have been forced to use my backup for quite some time. It’s terrible.

  14. Bobtree says:

    I still use a 4:3 CRT. Wider (shorter) ratios are not inherently better.

    • Wisq says:

      But I do think at this point it’s reasonable to argue that LCDs are inherently better than CRTs, overall.

      • Shadowcat says:

        I’d argue that they’re easier to carry :)

        A good CRT still has some advantages over LCD tech (and perhaps always will), so it really depends on your definition of “better”; I do basically agree, though — I think that the pros of a good LCD now outweigh the cons. It took a long time, though; I made the move about a year ago (and don’t regret it), but I was also looking into it about a year before that (when my long-time CRT was dying) and concluded at that time that an LCD that didn’t suck was going to cost the better part of $1000. I bought a second-hand CRT for $1 in an auction instead.

  15. The Random One says:

    Ah, N. The first game I’ve ever been rubbish at. Many would follow.

  16. WastedYeti says:

    PLEASE release on Steam!

  17. Shepardus says:

    Wow, this just made me realize it’s been nearly 5 years since I last made a DDA (I only made DDAs since I quickly found out that I had no talent at actual level design; I was PsychoSnail on nmaps.net, for anyone who cares). Many hours well-wasted on this game, and I never even got all the way through the 80s and 90s columns…

  18. Crispy75 says:

    I am reading this on a 21″ 1600×1200 monitor, which is right next to my other 21″ 1600×1200 monitor. I play games on my 16:9 TV, but for getting work done, I prefer my squares.

  19. Xepter says:

    I only have a 1280×1024 Monitor that use for at least 5 years now and I never had a 16:9 / 16:10 monitor… But I use my 40″ Sony bravia TV as another monitor to watch Anime ‘n Stuff, so that maybe counts?
    And I actually play a lot of games on my 4:3 screen and it never really bothers me (I mean, it’s not even HD, but I never cared about that all that much anyway…)

    PS: I’m still quite young ^^