N is a freeware computer game developed by Metanet Software. It was inspired in part by Lode Runner, Soldat, and other side-scrolling games. A console version of the game has been released for the Xbox Live Arcade under the title N+ (also available for the Nintendo DS and Sony's PlayStation Portable system). It won the audience choice award in the downloadables category of the 2005 Independent Games Festival.
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In N, the player controls a ninja who interacts with tiles, avoids hazards, and collects gold, eventually opening an exit door which completes the level. Gameplay involves three keys — a move left key (default left arrow), a move right key (default right arrow), and jumping (default shift key). Combination of these moves on various types of terrain allows the ninja to perform a variety of movements, such as jumping from wall to wall, climbing up vertical inclines, and sliding down steep surfaces.
As of version 1.4, N comprises one hundred episodes numbered 00 - 99, each featuring five levels, numbered 00 through 04, totaling 500 maps, 450 of them made by Metanet Software, while the remaining 50 are a compilation of user levels. The goal of each level is to trigger the switch and exit through a door it opens before the 90-second time-limit is up, while collecting as much gold as possible. Some levels have more than one exit and associated switch, giving the player more freedom to decide his route and method of completing the map.
Each episode is given a cumulative time limit. At the beginning of level 00, the player is given 90 seconds to complete the next five levels. In addition, however, every piece of gold collected by the player increases the remaining time by 2 seconds. The time left at the end of level 00 carries over to level 01, and so forth until the player reaches level 04 of the episode.
N also contains a feature that adds support for custom, user-made levels through a built-in level editor called the N Editor. For version 1.4, Metanet selected a handful of fan-made maps that are given to players with the game's download. Levels can be added into a game by modifying a text file that contains user level data; adding level data to this file allows user levels to be played in a timed setting, though it does not support the episode structure of the main game.
Doors can allow or impede progress throughout levels. With the exception of the exit door, all doors will impede enemies if closed (with exception of the thwump and the floorguard)
- Standard doors allow the ninja to move through them freely, and do not impede his progress, while stopping most hazards from passing through (the exception being floorchasers and thwumps).
- Locked doors will remain closed and impassible until triggered by a switch, and remain open permanently afterwards.
- Trap doors are activated by small gray switches and close. They are often used to trap a player in a chamber or to create a platform for him to jump or run onto.
- The exit door is opened by a large blue and gray switch, and must be reached to complete a level.
- Gauss Turrets aim at the ninja using an advanced algorithm based on the ninja's distance and movement relative to the turret. They continue to aim so long as the ninja is in their line of sight. Once aimed, they pause for a short moment before firing.
- Rocket Turrets launch homing rockets that track the ninja until they collide and detonate upon him, a door, or a tile. Each turret can fire only one rocket at a time.
- Stationary Mines are one of the most common hazards in the game. They explode upon coming in contact with the ninja.
- Thwumps are square blocks that move in a straight line when the ninja is in sight or a square to the side of it. Only one side of the thwump is lethal, and this side is colored electric blue; the ninja can hold onto, stand, and walk on the other three sides safely. Once a thwump has moved outwards to its maximum extent, it will return slowly. If trapped between a wall and the returning side of a thwump, the ninja will be crushed. In some levels the player must use the thwumps to their advantage.
- Zap drones usually follow a simple, pre-set movement pattern. However, there are also "chasing" Seeker Drones which have an antenna, and rush in a straight line at the ninja if he moves into or perpendicular to their line of sight.
- Laser Drones move slowly and fire a red laser beam at the ninja's location. They take a short time to power up, and their laser, a straight line between the drone and the ninja's location, stays active for a short time (approx. 3 seconds) afterward.
- Chaingun drones fire a stream of inaccurate bullets at the ninja; these also take a few seconds to power up.
- Floorchasers/Floorguards rush at the ninja if he is on the same level that the floorchaser is on. They accelerate instantly and move slightly faster than the ninja running at full speed.
The ninja can also die by hitting the environment at excess speed; this scenario however, is valid only in the case where the ninja hits a surface perpendicular to the direction of jump/fall. The most common example is falling straight down to a flat surface from a certain height, but can also include more unusual situations like falling diagonally toward an incline or wall-jumping too aggressively and thereby flying into the ceiling at a dangerous speed. Landing on a spike is possible, but can kill the ninja if he jumps on it from a lower height than a perpendicular tile.
- Gold, when collected, adds 2 seconds of time to the clock.
- Launchpads are used to propel the ninja in various directions at rapid speeds.
- Bounce blocks are square blocks which have a "springy" movement when the ninja interacts with them, which can also be used as trampolines.
As of v1.4, the player is rewarded with the ability to change the color of the ninja, or the ninja's flavor. The default flavor is black, and a new color is rewarded after reaching the last level in a column. The flavors are rewarded in a specific order, regardless of which column is completed, and are as follows:
|Color unlocked||Black||Pink||Olive||Teal||Purple||Maroon||White1||Gold||Dark Gray2||Light Gray3||Custom4|
- 1 - Also unlocks overclock mode.
- 2 - Same color as the environment.
- 3 - Same color as the background, effectively rendering the ninja invisible.
- 4 - Customizable through RGB values.
Overclocking is a feature which allows a player to change the speed the game runs at, including the ninja's speed, enemy speed, and the rate that time runs out. This speed setting can range from 0 to 10, with 0 being the normal speed.
User-created custom levels
N includes a full level editor, called the N Editor and nicknamed "Ned" by Metanet Software. It is accessed by either pressing the tilde (~), pipe (|), or backslash (\) key (depending on keyboard layout) at the main menu. Caps lock must be on to play the game normally in the editor's debug mode; otherwise, the game pauses and can be advanced frame-by-frame by clicking the mouse inside the game window. Once completed, maps can be submitted to NUMA, the N User Maps Archive for review by fellow mappers, players, and enthusiasts.
In creating a map, some mappers choose code edit the level data so that objects and tiles behave differently than normal. Some popular code modifications include setting stationary drones by upsetting their movement code, altering the size of the ninja, or precisely placing objects to a specific pixel, which would otherwise be difficult by human hand alone. Another common code edit is the ability to create "teleporters" through the launchpad object; these launchpads can transport the ninja through tiles, otherwise impossible.
The standard genre of mapping, action is the genre used by Metanet Software in the original in-game levels. It is the most popular category on NUMA.
- Prisoners - A small sub-genre of action, a prisoner map is one in which a ninja is trapped between two zap drones throughout the map. He must travel faster than the drone behind him to avoid being killed, but cannot go too quickly so as to not run into the drone in front of him.
- No Jump's & Jump Only's - In this sub-genre of action, the player can use only the jump key (default shift) or only the arrow keys. They are both difficult to play and to make, and for that reason are not very popular.
- Races - The second most common genre made by N mappers. Described as having "flowy" gameplay, the ninja travels at very highspeeds around curves and bends. Gameplay is smooth and uninterrupted.
- Minejumpers - The minejumper is a map in which the only, or primary, hazard is the mine. They are perhaps the most difficult genre to complete and involve a high level of skill.
- DDAs - One genre of maps is the Don't Do Anything genre, abbreviated as a "DDA". These maps require no playing whatsoever by the player, while a combination of game glitches, gravity, and propulsion such as launchpads and thwumps guide the ninja through the level. Close encounters with enemies are the most commonly emphasized traits of DDAs, others include speed and original methods of propulsion. There are a few sub-genres of DDAs, including the hold-left and hold-right DDAs, which requires the player to continuously hold down one movement key, and the KRADDA (Keep the Rocket Alive Don't Do Anything), in which the main focus of the level is one or more rockets following the ninja throughout the entire level, but never detonating.
- Survivals - There are some user-made maps that do not have exits, and as a result, the player has to stay alive as long as possible. Mappers and players alike have created abstract scoring methods which include gold obtained during gameplay and the frames (time in-game) that the player stays alive. Like the DDAs, these have sub-genres, such as "Keep the Rocket Alive" Survivals, where the player also has to keep the rocket alive. To support the claim of how many frames there are, they post demos to show.
There are other glitches that appear in the game, including going through one-way platforms, invincibility glitches created by multiple objects interacting with the ninja at once, and the ability to play outside the gamewindow, by using teleporters to travel outside the standard gameplay area. During the invincibility glitch, all objects do not interact with the ninja, while tiles interact normally. Another glitch exists where the ninja moves for the player for no apparent reason.
Numerous websites, including AddictingGames and eBaum's World, host various versions N that can be played from inside the browser (in SWF format), often known as "N-Game". These versions of the game violate the game's license agreement, often do not give credit to the original developers, and are out-of-date compared to the latest official version of N.
Metanet Software stated on "the Way of Ninja" (Official N website) that a new N 1.5 is coming soon, promising better NED (level editor), more levels and even more secrets in the game. Metanet Software also stated that the source code of N will be released with the 1.5 version.  Five years after N 1.4 release, on the 1st of June 2010, Metanet Software announced on the Forums and on the Metablog, that they were going to definitely start with N 1.5. They created some threads in the forums asking for the players feedback, and asking the players their opinions. Discussing every new aspect of the new version of N.
Metanet have stated that the new version of N would slightly alter the physics in an attempt to eradicate numerous bugs that currently exist in N 1.4. Predictably, changing the physics would completely break all previous demos and highscores. To counter this problem, a 'classic mode' has been suggested in order to preserve existing highscores runs and this idea has been seen as a favorable compromise for most players. The news of a physics update generated mixed responses from the community and highscorers at large who were going to lose years of hard work if not preserved. Every single player would also have to redo all levels in 1.5 version if they wanted to appear on the new highscore boards. This dilemma hasn't fully been resolved yet, but Metanet suggested doing a 1.5 version without any physics changes, and then a 2.0 version with all the changes.
Another controversial suggestion was the fixing of most of the bugs which has polarized the community, since most players and highscorers have adapted to these 'bugs' and don't consider them as a hindrance on the game. For example, all the tricks (i.e. corner jumps, double jumps on bounce-blocks, jumping up through one-ways and many more...) Most of the players, (mainly the highscorers) think N would lose a lot of fun and challenge if these things were eradicated from the game and also believe that they are an element of the game now, and shouldn't be removed.
- Official website of N and N+
- Original N Homepage
- Official N+ Xbox.com page
- Official N+ DS and PSP page
- N at Wikia
Official Metanet Fan Sites
Unofficial Metanet Fan Projects