Have You Played… N?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

N consumed me. For months, for hours a day, I’d be poking at arrow keys, perfecting jumps, wall-jumps and slides in order to dodge electrifying scooters, crushing thwumps, explosive mines and laser-targeted missiles. My reward, a replay at the end of each exhausting level which discarded my failed attempts and left only the perfect, graceful, balletic triumph.

N had hundreds of levels, then. v2.0 has hundreds more and it’s still free.

Returning to it now, it strikes me how weird N’s physics are to get used to. You feel heavy, but pick up horizontal speed rapidly even via air-control. You’re heavy and slidey at the same time, making it hard to get height but hard to pin your feet to small platforms.

But stick with it, because soon those quirks of physics become a stage for your growing mastery. The likes of Super Meat Boy and VVVVVV have done it since, but N was the first platformer that tipped me into the pursuit of perfection.

It’s also, like all of them, a game that reminds me that I’ll never reach it. N does that more swiftly than most by offering a leaderboard where every quick time – all of them quicker than me – can be clicked in order to watch a replay of the run. That route you found around a particular obstacle will be revealed as just one option of many, and there’s as much fun to be had as a spectator of other people’s death-defying leaps and bounds as a performer of your own.

Try also the user-made, no-hands levels, which pinball your character around the single-screen rooms like a circus performer while you don’t need to press a single button. Lovely thing.

12 Comments

  1. Cinek says:

    Awesome, I had no idea that there’s version 2 available. Will need to get back to it… truly great game.

  2. RobF says:

    Yes! N is one of my favourite things. So much good with it, including how it teaches you very quickly to play N through play. Oh, and the BRUTAL way your character explodes on death. Love that.

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    Lexx87 says:

    N is amazing. I have played much N.

  4. iainl says:

    Sadly, I’m a heathen who only came to it after loving N+ on 360. It’s not quite as good; I find the controls a bit too sticky.

  5. Kaeoschassis says:

    I’d personally add Dustforce to that “pursuit of perfection” list – did you guys cover its massive free update? I don’t remember.
    Anyway, it’s fab, and manages to nail much of what I love about N while its soothing music and absolutely beautiful levels keep me from exploding into fits of psychotic rage.
    Having said that, N is also brilliant, and to my mind, better at teaching you its own tricks through level design – something Dustforce is alas not so great at.

  6. Eukatheude says:

    Loved it. It doesn’t seem like the v2 has the old levels in it, or does it?

    • JeCa says:

      Looking through the intro this-is-how-you-will-die sequences, there are definitely some levels I recognise (assuming those simply aren’t the old replays, with weren’t updated with the level selection). However, they’ve sadly gotten rid of the infamous 80’s column. I loved this thing to death, but don’t have time to play it all again to see if Mother Twumping Impossible or Bricklayer are still hidden somewhere in there.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      According to the changelog it does as well as including levels from the console versions -> link to thewayoftheninja.org

  7. Synesthesia says:

    My brother was Godlike at this game. I could never even get close to his scores.

  8. BLACKOUT-MK2 says:

    God, I remember playing N years ago. I was terrible at it, but it certainly is fun.

  9. CamWiseOwl says:

    Me and my best mate at school would play this during our lunch break for lack of anything more fun to do.
    10 minutes every day, replaying the same levels. If we knew what a speedrun was back then.. that’s what we did, we mastered the game.

    …only thing I can brag about haha. DS version was awful unfortunately.

  10. Haru-sama says:

    Game of my childhood. N+, btw, is one of the best games on PSP.