N is a downloadable free game, in which the player controls a ninja in an attempt to navigate through various levels. The main objective in each level is to get to the exit door , which requires hitting a switch to open. There are many hazards that stand between the player and the exit (described below), as well as a running time limit.
Levels are organized into "episodes", each of which contains 5 levels. The player is given 90 seconds at the beginning of an episode, and the time carries over throughout all 5 levels. There are often gold pieces in levels that the player can collect, and each piece of gold collected increases the remaining time by 2 seconds. Any time the player collects via gold is also carried over throughout the episode.
As of the latest version of N, version 1.4, the game contains 100 episodes, which is equivalent to 500(!) levels.
N is light on controls. The left and right arrow keys move the player left and right, and shift is used to jump, although these controls can be changed. These are the game's only controls, other than a suicide button that can be used to restart the level if the player is running out of time or gets trapped. Though there are only three controls for the player to use, using those controls in conjunction with the ninja's "Godlike speed, dexterity and jumping powers" allow the player to perform many various feats, such as wall jumps and sliding slowly down walls or other similarly smooth structures. It should also be noted that the player can die from severe impact, such as by hitting the ground after falling a long distance. A lot of these interactions are due to the game's ragdoll physics engine, which is fairly realistic.
Hazards and Objects
As mentioned above, N contains many hazards and objects that hinder the player in his or her mission.
These various hazards appear in N, and a run-in with one of these items generally results in death.
- Mines - these can appear in the air or on the ground, and will detonate on impact, killing the player.
- Zap Drones - these blue octagons come in 2 varieties. The first kind follows a set path, while the second will chase the player if it makes visual contact.
- " Thwumps" - inspired by the Thwomps from the Mario series, these square blocks are triggered when the player is within sight, causing them to move rapidly. They only move in a straight line, and once they run into terrain, they slowly begin to return to their starting position. Only one side of the thwump is lethal, which is coloured blue and results in instantaneous death upon contact. The player can touch the rest of the block safely. This can often provide support to the player, as the player can stand on or cling to these hazards. The player can also die by being crushed between a non lethal side of the thwump and another solid object.
- "Floorchasers" - these hazards sit on the floor, and rush towards the player if they cross the plane that the "floorchaser" is on (direct contact with the surface they are on is not necessary). Touching the "floorchaser" results in death. The "floorchaser" constantly moves slightly faster than the ninja at top running speed
- Chaingun Drones - these gray spheres move about the level, and fire an arc of bullets at the player if it makes visual contact. It takes the drones a few seconds to power up, and being hit by the bullets results in death.
- Laser Drones - these clear spheres move slowly about the level, and fire a thin, red laser beam at the player if it makes visual contact. It takes the drone a few seconds to power up, and the laser remains active for a time after it is fired. Touching the laser results in death for the player.
- Gauss Turrets - these stationary turrets attempt to follow the player's motions with a targeting reticule and fire depleted uranium at the player, which, though it fires at light speed, the targeting reticule is obsolete, often shooting at where the player would have been one second ago.
- Rocket Turrets - these stationary turrets fire homing rockets at the player once visual contact is made. These rockets track the player until they hit a wall or the player, the later of which results in death. Only one rocket per turret is allowed in the level at a time.
These other objects can appear in levels, and generally aren't directly harmful to the player.
- Standard door - a player can pass through these at any time.
- Locked door - these doors require the player to collect a switch before they open, thus allowing the player to pass through.
- Trap doors - these door do not appear until a switch is hit. Once they appear, they cannot be passed through again. Their respective switches are often hidden behind gold to lure the player into trapping themselves in a dead end.
- Exit door - going through this door completes the level, but a switch must be obtained before it can be opened.
- Switches - there are 3 kinds of switches - one for each of the 3 above door types. They vary slightly in size.
- One way platforms - these platforms are solid on one side, but can be passed through from the other. They can act as either pitfalls, walls, or platforms. Enemies, however, can see and move through them from both sides.
- Bounce blocks - these white blocks are solid objects on all sides, but they move slightly if the player touches them. They then quickly snap back into place, and can fling the player off of them. Like the one way platforms, enemies can see and move through bounce blocks from all sides, though depending on the layering of the enemies and the blocks.
- Launch pads - these thin pads rest on platforms, and hurl the player out from them when touched. They are very forceful in their spring effect, and can potentially cause death to the player if hurled directly into a wall or other solid object. Falling from the height reached by this effect can also result in death. However, these objects are generally meant to help the player reach higher platforms.
- Gold - these small yellow pieces can be collected to increase the player's remaining time limit. Each piece collected adds 2 seconds to the clock.
N supports its own custom level editor, nicknamed "Ned" ("N-editor"). This can be used to create levels using the pre-existing objects and hazards, or can be used to alter the game's code slightly. For example, drones can be made to be stationary, or launch pads can be made into teleporters through various tricks (these can be found on Metanet's official forums). User levels can also be submitted to NUMA (the official N User Maps Archive), where they can be rated and added to other players' user levels list.
N comes with 152 standard user levels, which are stored in a folder with the game, in a text file that contains each levels individual code. When players finish their custom built levels, they are given the code for the level, which they then put in to the text file, with an accompanying name author and genre. When players add NUMA levels, they simply copy the level data from the website to their user level file, then refresh the user level list in the game.
Users are able to submit their high scores for any level completed in the main game through their NUMA account, where the top 15 scores for each level and episode are available for all users to view replays of. Users can also submit replay data for user levels in comments for each level online, which players can input into a box available in the user levels menu, which automatically replays the users run through of the level.
Version 1.4 comprises a total of 500 levels divided into 100 Episodes -- a lot of the level titles are either puns or homages to other games and/or popular media.
Note: Episodes 80 through 89 feature solely user levels, handpicked by the game developers and included in the game's last known version.
The main game is sorted into 10 columns, which consist of 10 episodes each, numbering from 0 to 99. When the player completes any given column, they are rewarded with a new color for their ninja, known as "flavors" in the game. The columns do not have to be completed in any particular order, however if the player has "practice mode" activated from the options menu, completed episodes will not count towards a completed column. When the player completes 6 columns, they will unlock " Overclock mode", which allows the player to adjust the game to run at up to 10x normal speed, though it is purely for entertainment and more challenging repeats of previous levels. If the player completes all 100 episodes of the main game, they will unlock "custom flavor mode", which lets the player adjust an RGB slider to create any color they wish.
N Version History
Version 1.00 - March 1, 2004
- N release version
Version 1.01 - March 5, 2004
- fixed game GUI during main menu
- fixed pausing game resets lifespan
Version 1.03 - March 17, 2004
- fixed typos in help section
- added edit/debug mode
- added editor_manual.doc
Version 1.05 - March 28, 2004
- fixed editor demo (lower) text box
- fixed editor delete object bug
- added editor_manual.txt
- added esc pauses game
Version 1.2 - April 25, 2004
- fixed embedded font
- fixed editor cursor instructions
- added 100 new levels (20 new episodes)
- added key config section
- added save player progress
- added | accesses debug menu
- added credits page
Version 1.3c - July 2, 2004
- fixed blurry text
- improved post-death ragdoll collision
- improved enemy AI refresh rate
- added "shuffled" mainmenu replays
- added online highscores
- added internal personal best system
- added practice mode (no time limit)
- added unlockable secret mode
- added deathlog
- added "boss mode" (lowers cpu usage)
- added visual quality selection
- added sound volume control
- added 150 new levels (30 new episodes)
- added numpad 0 or Insert accesses object editing in Ned
- added new episode completion images
- added new credits page art
- modified save player progress
Version 1.4 - May 15, 2005
- fixed highscore submission system
- fixed personal best submission system
- fixed previous version progress import system
- fixed laggy sliders in Configure menu
- improved "shuffled" mainmenu replays
- improved highscore replay system
- improved Ned: gridlines, N graphics, trigger indicators, etc
- added 150 new levels (30 new episodes)
- added 50 new user-made levels (10 new episodes)
- added user levels mode: levels playable in N game mode
- added user levels personal best system
- added practice mode (level skip cheat)
- added unlockable ninja flavours
- added new unlockable secret
- added new victory animations
- modified highscores and timetrial pages (merge)
- modified password field (hidden with asterisks)