2008's Biggest Blips: N+


Developer: Silverbirch Studios
Publisher: Atari
Release: April

The physics-based platformer N was a unique PC release. While platform games are a staple of the medium, N distinguished itself with its sophisticated physics-engine, minimalist presentation, parkour-like movement and, especially, a level editor that allows fans to design levels with every feature of the official ones.

The game has been updated and remade for release on the DS (and other systems). A bunch of new levels have been added, including contest-winning fan levels. The game features a dual-view in which the bottom screen zooms in on the player and the top screen shows the full level. New enemies and obstacles have been added. A DS-specific level editor has been created that allows for online level sharing just like in the PC version. The question, then, for original developer Metanet and console publisher Atari, is how to convey this in the game's title. N, being so short, brings minimal information about the content of the game. And even gamers familiar with the PC game wouldn't guess from the name N that so much had been added. Thus, it was important to come up with a name that clues gamers into both the inherent ninja-ness of the base game and the updated material in the console version. And, well, it was a long process.

Rejected titles for the DS remake of the PC freeware physics-based puzzle-platformer, N:
  • The Island of Secret Jumping
  • Jump: The Jumpening
  • Platformia: A Synaesthetic Vertical Experience
  • Jumpster! The Jumping Ant in: Big Day Out
  • The Player Dies From Falling Or Being Hit By Some Kinda Robot
  • Quest for Gold Coins: The Tale of a Ninja
  • A+
  • B+
  • You Probably Get That Particular Joke By Now
  • Taco Hunt USA
  • Get Killed By A Thing
  • Large Levels, Small Guy: The Journey of a Lifetime
  • Dr. Platformatic's Ninjadventure
  • Desperation Gymnastics
  • IMPERIUM-X 2088: HUMANITY'S LAST LEAP
  • John Madden's Guitar Halo
  • Platforming Training: Learn Precision Video Game Playing in Minutes a Day
  • Ninja Legend: A Ninja's Legend
  • Legendary Ninja: Birth of a Ninja Legend
  • Gold Quest: Lost Coins of the Realm
  • My Pet Ninja
  • Run Run Run Run Jump
  • Extreme Oreo Run: Savor the Action (Atari was exploring possible licenses)
In the end, Atari decided that the best way to get the message of "N plus stuff" across was to give it the obvious name: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. But copyright prevented that, so they went with N+.

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This article was originally published on Joystiq.