Learn about Chevy's new hybrid from AutoblogGreen!
Add to: My AOL, MyYahoo, Google, Bloglines
Joystiq presents

Bury the Shovelware: N+

Man, it must feel like I'm just trying to pick fights this week. Allow me to explain myself: I love n+. It's incredibly fun, elegant, and well-made. JC gave the game a 9.5 / 10, and I'd say that's a pretty fair score. So how on earth does a good game get picked for Bury the Shovelware?

Throughout the duration of this column, we've learned a lot about shovelware. We've examined the sharing of blame between the publisher and developer, the curse of a license, the effects of critics' perception, and much more. Our top priority has been determining common attributes. One might ask what is the single, definitive trait common throughout all shovelware. The easy answer would be "it sucks." But to who? You? Me? Everyone? If you were to wander through the graveyard of the DS's library, even the loneliest tombstone will have a sympathizer or two. Particularly for younger gamers who might not know any better, cognizance is everything.

Thus, we must focus on the objective. As the swipe for this series states, "shovelware refers to any game in which time and effort were eschewed in favor of turning a quick profit." Theoretically, any game which shows compromise in any area for the benefit of time and/or money might be considered shovelware. Even if the game is a critical success, one can still identify flaws in its design. Without labeling n+ as shovelware, let's examine how its existence relates to the bottom-feeders of the DS.
(A quick note: I've been playing this game very often since a few days after it was released, so the typical "timing" method used would not be feasible. Suffice to say I've spent a lot of time with this game. Instead, I'll list hints of shovelware-esque faults.)

  • The online modes are really awesome ... in theory. You connect to a server using a created username and password, then you can browse through select user-created maps. These can be played without requiring a download and save to the DS card, which is awesome. But if you really like it, you can go ahead and do that to play it on the go. Yet there seems to be server issues. In almost every online session I've had, disconnection occurs in a fairly consistent manner. You can chalk that up to the onslaught of new users, but this isn't Mario Kart.
  • Although the use of the keyboard in the game is really limited, the keys don't seen to like the stylus. It's not a deal-breaker, but it is a bit of a detriment. Even Ping Pals' keyboard worked flawlessly.
  • Menu options don't always stay selected, especially after restarting the DS. For example, the display mode occasionally toggles between "plus" and "pure" modes without my consent. Additionally, the game turns the music off (but not the sound effects) after a restart every time like clockwork, even if I go into the options and turn it back on. Speaking of which ...
  • On its own, the music is pretty cool. The retro / electronica hybrid sounds great in samples, and is best experienced through the promotional videos provided by the publisher. But in execution, something goes terribly wrong. Musical phrases repeat indefinitely and awkwardly, leaving the audio experience more distracting than enjoyable. Occasionally the music drops out completely, then startlingly reappears later mid-level. My best guess is that they were trying to implement some sort of event-related music (i.e. the speedy version of the Mario theme that plays when you're running out of time). But perhaps they didn't have enough time left to fully test and implement it.
  • Nitpick alert: the deaths are nowhere near as cool as they were in the original flash version. Death happens often in this game, and a happy consolation prize for a cheap death is the entertainment of watching your ninja's body blow apart or dangle off a ledge with incredible rag-doll physics. Yet in the DS version, it looks more like watching a hot dog roll off a table onto a carpet with an unsatisfying plop.
In most economies, workers are usually paid either hourly or as a salaried employee. Service-oriented jobs usually pay hourly, as a company can benefit financially by hiring more workers and paying them hourly to avoid paying fewer employees overtime when extra work is required. Skill-oriented jobs usually pay a salary, since overtime isn't rewarded and a company can squeeze extra hours out of workers when it's needed for no additional cost. You'll recall that gaming giant EA was involved in a scuffle over this a few years ago.

One could assume that this title had resources stretched too thin. Metanet, creators of the original flash N, were much more satisfied with the XBLA version of their original game than the DS and PSP releases. Developers Mare Sheppard and Raigan Burns mentioned in their blog that "in terms of design as a whole, we don't agree with some of the decisions that were made with the handhelds." Perhaps the issues present are solely the fault of Silverbirch Studios. Or perhaps Silverbirch didn't receive enough resources from Atari to sufficiently port the brilliant flash game to the DS and PSP systems. Indeed, the title was delayed about 6 months from its original planned release date. Perhaps the project was running short on time and / or money. While a compromise in either of these two factors usually precedes doom, gameplay can still persevere. And in this case, it most definitely does. The gripes I described above? Extremely forgivable.

Is N+ a great game? Yes. Is it one of my all-time favorite DS titles that I'd recommend to anyone? Most definitely. But is it an effort that may have been shortchanged on time and resources and thus categorized as shovelware? You be the judge.

Update: Included commentary from Mare Sheppard and Raigan Burns. Big thanks to dtd and especially Mare!

In gaming, the term shovelware refers to any game in which time and effort were eschewed in favor of turning a quick profit. Bury the Shovelware takes a closer look at these titles, typically those that inhabit the lower end of metascores. It attempts to: 1) find out where and how the developer went wrong 2) identify common traits present in most shovelware 3) measure how long the game can be suffered.

Related Headlines

Reader Comments (Page 1 of 4)

| 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | Most Recent | Next 20 Comments

Add your comments

Please keep your comments relevant to this blog entry. Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments.

When you enter your name and email address, you'll be sent a link to confirm your comment, and a password. To leave another comment, just use that password.

To create a live link, simply type the URL (including http://) or email address and we will make it a live link for you. You can put up to 3 URLs in your comments. Line breaks and paragraphs are automatically converted — no need to use <p> or <br /> tags.

Gaming to Go!

This Month's New Games

Name Date
Bleach: Dark Souls
Oct 6
Legend of Kage 2
Oct 6
Crash: Mind Over Mutant
Oct 6
Spectrobes: Beyond the Portals
Oct 6
My Japanese Coach
Oct 14
Korg DS-10
Oct 14
Naruto: Path of the Ninja 2 Oct 14
FIFA Soccer 09 Oct 14
Populous Oct 14
Rock Revolution
Oct 14
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia
Oct 21
Oct 21
Spider-Man: Web of Shadows Oct 21
Away: Shuffle Dungeon
Oct 21
Oct 21
Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon
Oct 21
What's Cooking? With Jamie Oliver Oct 21
MySims Kingdom
Oct 28
Ninjatown Oct 28

Get homebrew on your DS!

Popular on DS Fanboy

The story
More like it
Bury the Shovelware: Wiffle Ball BTS
Show and Tell: One Dedicated Community Show and Tell
Gaming to Go: Kirby Canvas Curse Gaming to Go
Vicarious Visions talks Guitar Hero: On Tour Decades Features
DS Fanboy Review: Kirby Super Star Ultra Reviews
Another Week in ... (50)
Bury the Shovelware (17)
Contests / Giveaways (24)
DS Daily (582)
DS Fanboy Lite (42)
DS Fanboy poll (41)
Friday video (70)
Game Night (159)
Gaming to Go (17)
Items of Import (7)
Metareview (58)
Point/Counterpoint (7)
Promotional Consideration (58)
Show and Tell (75)
The DS Life (69)
What are you playing? (90)
Accessories (147)
Downloads (68)
Fan stuff (1420)
Features (292)
GBA (130)
Hacks (82)
Homebrew (230)
How-tos (75)
Imports (942)
Interviews (157)
Meta (136)
Mods (17)
News (3342)
Nintendo Wi-Fi (191)
Reviews (193)
Sales (197)
Screens (1002)
Video (745)
Rumors (193)



Powered by Blogsmith

Featured Galleries

Gardening Mama
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
Show and Tell: Mother crafts
Kirby Canvas Curse
Mushroom Men: The Weapons
Mother 3 Fan Translation
Show and Tell: Five ways to love the Game Boy
Neopets Puzzle Adventure


Most Commented On (14 days)

Recent Comments

Weblogs, Inc. Network

  • Autos
    • Autoblog
    • AutoblogGreen
    • Autoblog Spanish
    • Autoblog Chinese
    • Autoblog Simplified Chinese
  • Technology
    • Download Squad
    • Engadget
    • Engadget HD
    • Engadget Mobile
    • Engadget Chinese
    • Engadget Simplified Chinese
    • Engadget Japanese
    • Engadget Germany
    • Engadget Korea
    • Engadget Polska
    • Engadget Spanish
    • Switched
    • TUAW (Apple)
  • Lifestyle
    • AisleDash
    • DIY Life
    • Gadling
    • Green Daily
    • Luxist
    • ParentDish
    • Slashfood
    • StyleList Blog
    • That's Fit
  • Gaming
    • Joystiq
    • DS Fanboy
    • Massively
    • Nintendo Wii Fanboy
    • PS3 Fanboy
    • PSP Fanboy
    • WoW Insider
    • Xbox 360 Fanboy
    • Big Download
  • Entertainment
    • Cinematical
    • TV Squad
  • Finance
    • BloggingBuyouts
    • BloggingStocks
    • WalletPop
  • Sports
    • FanHouse Main
    • NFL
    • NBA
    • MLB
    • NCAA Football
    • NCAA Basketball
    • NASCAR
    • NHL
    • Golf
    • Fantasy Football
  • Also on AOL
    • African-American Culture
    • Black Friday
    • Cars
    • Games
    • Maps
    • Money
    • Movies
    • Music
    • News
    • Radio
    • Sports
    • Stock Quotes
    • Television
    • Travel

Other Weblogs Inc. Network blogs you might be interested in:

PS3 Fanboy
  • Sony: PS3 price isn't an issue this Christmas
  • Namco Bandai promises Naruto DLC will be free
  • Rumor: Rock Band 2 in Europe this side of Xmas
WOW Insider
  • Scourge invasion in Stormwind and Undercity
  • Voidwalker tanks Illidan, for real this time
  • World of Warcraft vs. my girlfriend
Xbox 360 Fanboy
  • $99 60GB HDD Live pack available next week
  • Video: Gears of War 2 launch trailer
  • Stop at nothing, download Tomb Raider: Underworld demo off the XBLM
Nintendo Wii Fanboy
  • Taiko no Tatsujin rocks Japanese television in latest ad spot
  • Make your pets hate you, win a Wii and Animal Crossing
  • Price rollback on Frontman guitars
PSP Fanboy
  • PSP Fanboy review: Neverland Card Battles
  • PlayStation Store for PC reopens with Media Manager 3
  • 4GB PSP Entertainment Pack will no longer see release
Big Download Blog
  • Supreme Ruler 2020 expansion announced
  • New Spore Creepy and Cute screenshots released
  • Feature: Boot Disk - Duke Nukem 3D
Fanhouse Golf Blog
  • Erik Compton, On His Third Heart, Makes Up Seven Shots To Advance at Q-School
  • Winged Foot Neighbor Too Close For Comfort, Issues Restraining Order On Par-3
  • Erik Compton, With His Third Heart, Will Try to Cart It Through Q-School