N+ plays with only three buttons and the directional pad, used to control a small black ninja. Players jump, dodge, climb and rebound from walls, collecting gold on their way to a level's exit. Each level the player enters has a time limit based on the ninja's "metabolism" which, according to the instructions for the games, gives the ninja an extremely short life-span and a "thirst for gold". Gold increases the remaining time for players, thus being a valuable item to collect. While the player is given infinite lives, death can still come swift and often, a key design feature of N+. Anything that is dangerous to the ninja will kill him instantly.