by Joseph Leray

Show of hands: who remembers "N" or Metanet Software? Way back in Ye Olden Days of 2004, Metanet released "N," a physics-enabled ninja platforming game. It was popular for a time, eventually warranting the release of "N+" to Xbox Live Arcade, the DS, and the PSP.

You could also argue that "N" paved the way for future platformers like Team Meat's "Super Meat Boy," games that focused on speed, precision, and quick, brutal death."N" may feel barebones in comparison, but it's one of the most successful and longest-running Flash-based games I can think of. A whopping eight years into things, Metanet have released "N" 2.0.
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Super Meat Boy

I have a fondness for extremely well-made, yet extremely difficult, games. MTV Multiplayer contributor, Chris Plante, recently referred to my sort in an Escapist article as "ludomasochists," or "people who take pleasure and find value in the difficulty of play." That's most certainly me, at least when it comes to 2D platformers. The genre has seen a revival in recent years, thanks in no small part to indie developers like Metanet Studios ("N+") and Team Meat ("Super Meat Boy"). Both games repeatedly punish the player without mercy, and yet they're so well-made that we keep coming back for more.

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Achievements

Earlier this week I completed a challenge I set for myself way back in February of 2008: Get every achievement in "N+" on XBLA. If you've played the game, you know that the developers didn't make that very easy. The punishingly difficult platformer requires extraordinarily precise timing and reflexes. Tiny mistakes are usually rewarded with instant death. Finally finishing the game was a cathartic moment, and it made me wonder just how many other people had gone through the same trial.

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