Not Not — A Brain Buster
Played on: Nintendo Switch, via eshop
Not Not is a fast-paced, fun, addictive brain teaser with enough content to kill a couple of hours.
Ah, good old “not”, that diminutive negatory adverb beloved of logic nerds and Wayne’s World impressionists alike. The “Not Not” in this game’s title is a strong hint at what’s to come, although the “A Brain Buster” heading helps make it crystal clear — as well as enabling the game to actually be found in the Switch e-shop.
Not Not is fast, highly logical, and infuriatingly addictive. The basic premise is simple: you have four directions in which to move and you need to pick an acceptable one, according to the instruction presented to you. That might be “DOWN”, in which case you just need to move down. Or it might be “NOT DOWN”, in which case you’ll need to move in any other direction to proceed. Or it could be “NOT NOT DOWN” — we all know that a double-negative makes a positive, right?
So far, so straightforward, but there are 27 levels of this — 30, 40, or 50 turns each — to get through, so how does it get challenging? Not Not adds a few twists to the challenge which, in combination, ramp the difficulty right up.
First, the instructions are sometimes coloured in, sometimes in a different colour to what they’re referencing. For example, you’ll see “BLUE” rendered in the finest shade of red, and you’ll need to stop your brain from getting distracted. The Stroop effect is strong with this one.
Next comes combined instructions such as “BLUE OR RIGHT” but they’re typically much more complicated than just that. In fact, later on, some instructions are actually impossible to carry out, parodoxically requiring one movement and its opposite. The correct response in these cases is simply to do nothing, but since “NOTHING” is also an instruction, I didn’t find that altogether clear. In fact, that goes for most of Not Not — it pretty much serves up a simple premise and leaves it up to the player to make sense of it all.
As mentioned, there are 27 levels in Classic mode, divided into 9 different themes, each with three different levels of difficulty. Later levels are unlocked until you complete a number of earlier levels; some are locked until you achieve perfection on earlier levels by finishing them without using any continues. There’s also an endless runner challenge mode.
Not Not is a classic hectic puzzler which demands fast reactions. It’s balanced well enough that mistakes are easy to recognise but difficult to avoid. The additional challenges that each section incorporates combine pleasingly, and the endless challenge mode could well provide some longevity. There’s even a multiplayer option which could make this an excellent party game.