10 Second Ninja X is a game centered around time trials. The game takes everything great about challenging platformers and tries to condense it down into the smallest bits possible, so while ten seconds sounds incredibly short, in practice it’s actually quite generous. This honestly could have been a recipe for disaster, as any time constraint is enough to raise one’s blood pressure, but 10 Second Ninja X strikes the perfect balance to make racing the clock a ton of fun.
Here’s what I liked:
Gotta go fast – The entire game revolves around one simple but bold statement: every level must be completed within ten seconds. Said levels are small arenas filled with robots that all need to be destroyed. As the ninja, you must achieve that goal using only your sword and three shurikens. Basic movement is fast and responsive, sword slashes cover a sizable range and helpful reticules always show which robots can be hit with a throwing star at any moment. The gameplay is crafted in such a way that makes moving as fast as possible feel very manageable. Despite the meticulously crafted experience,even the best ninja fails, so thankfully there’s a restart button that reloads the level almost instantly.
All-star ninja – 10 Second Ninja X‘s difficulty is perfectly balanced. Game progression relies on a star system, where better scores are rewarded for completing the level in pre-determined times. Every level is worth three stars, and you need to average two per level to progress at every barrier. Generally you get one star just for finishing the level, two for going through on the most efficient path and three for perfecting that path to a T. Getting to the end of the story isn’t too bad; it will definitely take a few retires, but since the game is so fast you can get past even the most difficult level in no time. Post-story content is where things get more intense, as reaching 100% will require perfection on every single level.
Pirate vs Ninja – While the game is all about time trials, there’s an enjoyable narrative holding it all together. The titular ninja is captured and challenged by Captain Greatbeard, a pirate with an odd superiority complex. Between every chunk of 10 levels you return to a small hub, your captor’s flying ship, where you get some downtime to talk to characters and uncover secrets. While 10 Second Ninja X is primarily a game about beating intense time trials, everything about the presentation is so pleasant, from the adorable art direction to the silly writing. While the game would still have been fine without it, the cute framework does add some welcome slow-paced levity to a fast and possibly frustrating game.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
It’s all over – Perhaps unsurprisingly, 10 Second Ninja X goes by fast. The main story consists of 60 levels of increasing complexity and challenge, but scales in difficulty so well you’ll never face any huge roadblocks. Reaching the end of the main game doesn’t take very long. While the story will be accessible to most, those that desire a challenge will get a lot more out of this game on their quest for perfection.
10 Second Ninja X is a near perfect execution of a challenging platformer. While it’s certainly never easy, it is accessible and rewarding to players of any skill level. Its short levels make it endlessly addicting, especially when you’re only a few milliseconds off from that three-star victory.10 Second Ninja X is an amazing pick-up-and-play game that most will have trouble putting down.
Score: Must Buy
10 Second Ninja X was developed by Four Circle Interactive and published by Curve Digital. It was released July 19, 2016 for $9.99. A copy was provided by Curve Digital for review purposes.