Taking charge of a quick witted, fleet of foot ninja is nothing new. Destroying numerous robots and escaping the clutches of an evil madman isn’t either. Should you be forced into any of those things, you’ll usually find that sitting back patiently, sipping a cup of tea, surveying the surroundings and carefully planning your strategy works wonders.
But not this time.
Instead, 10 Second Ninja X does away with the slow ponderous approach, giving you just 10 seconds to battle your way past levels filled with robots, switches, levers and electrified fields. Is that really enough time to save the world? Is it really enough time to make 10 Second Ninja X warrant a purchase?
Well, you know what? If you’re prepared to put the practice in, then yes it is!
10 Second Ninja X tells the story of a small mute ninja; one who has been kidnapped by the evil Captain Greatbeard. It will be up to you to take charge of the little ninja dude, drop into 60+ levels of static screen action and make it out the other side again.
As. Simple. As. That. Except of course you’ll only get a measly 10 seconds to complete each stage.
Each level sees you needing to complete a single objective – destroy all the hostile robots within 10 seconds. If you do so, you’ll find you can move on to the next stage, and attempt to do the exact same thing again. Your only weapons are your trusty sword, something which comes in super handy for when you are up close and personal, and three shurikens – shurikens which can be thrown around each stage at will. Whilst the robots won’t ever move, each of the segments comes with an increasingly difficult puzzle element to it. You’ll need to jump and double jump your ninja around swiftly, dodging electrified fields and despatching robots with ease. Some will come with shields which mean they require two hits, others will be covered with a force field which only your shurikens can destroy. Others still will eat up your stars like nobodies business or be hidden behind switch controlled doors.
How you go about destroying all the robots is completely up to you, but quite obviously you’ll need to be fast and you’ll need to go in hard, for once those 10 seconds are up, you’ll be forced to start again. If you manage to get rid of them all within the strict time limit, then a star will come your way. Do it all a bit quicker and you may even be able to gather up two or three awards in one shot. These are critical to your progress, and the chance to escape Greatbeard’s manic mind, as further levels will only open up once you’ve destroyed enough robots, beaten plenty of par times and accumulated enough stars.
Initially, you’ll be left wondering how the hell you’re going to even complete a stage, let alone three star the damn thing. But the more you play, and the quicker you understand how your ninja skills work, the more stars you’ll gather.
The stages themselves are superb, with some cunning designs allowing for a huge deal of progression. Your first attempt at succeeding will undoubtedly see you fail. As probably will your second. But once you get into the flow of things, picking up the odd star and being urged to try again to shave milliseconds off your time, picking up further shiny, pointy things, will find that 10 Second Ninja X excels. With super quick response times, stunningly precise mechanics, and the chance to get back into the action a mere second after you realise you’ve messed up, you’re never left to sit around twiddling your thumbs whilst loading screens take over your life either. Everything about 10 Second Ninja X is fast and furious. And damn addictive.
10 Second Ninja X is however difficult. Very difficult. At least if you want to try and earn yourself every single star available from every single level. Whilst it’s fairly simple to manage to pick up a solitary star each time, much of the game will only unlock should you be persistent enough to grab more. In fact, depending on your skill level, chances are you’ll still find yourself coming up short some weeks and months down the line, especially if you check out the included Marathon Mode; something which may frustrate many.
If you’re an achievement hunter looking for something that is going to gift you some quick and easy gamerscore, then look away right now. You’re going to have to graft for these points. If that’s something that excites you though – or you just need something to really sink your teeth into – then you may not be able to find too much better.
Should you find yourself really struggling with a stage, then the option to ‘cheat’ your way through with level hints is a good one. That said, these will have to be earnt too with a delightful little mini-game testing not just your quick reflexes, but your keen eye as well. This is found outside of the 10 second stages, amid a fair bit of exploration which is available to those who wish to go deeper into the story. I’ll hazard a guess and say that there will be very few people in this world who will be able to complete 10 Second Ninja X without the need for these hints, and thankfully Four Circle Interactive have acknowledged this. It may feel like cheating at times, but it’s a necessity that just has to be utilised. If only for your sanity.
Visually, 10 Second Ninja X isn’t going to blow you away, but the sharp graphics and supremely fast gameplay combine as one and never let you down. There is, as you would expect of a game that pushes you for 10 seconds at a time, no lag, no stutter and nothing to have you shouting at the TV about. Except for when you miss the three star award by a hundredth of a second, but even then, the only thing that is going to let you down with 10 Second Ninja X are your own skills.
As long as you know your way around a controller, have sharp reflexes, a quick eye and enough patience to allow for death, after death, after death to come your way, then 10 Second Ninja X is for you. Should you be falling short with any of those requirements however, then you’re probably going to be left pretty infuriated. The learning curve is however damn great with further traps and tricks fed in at a decent rate – one which most definitely allows you to understand how everything works before the big guns come out to play.
Whilst 10 Second Ninja X has never really blown me away, it brings enough woo-hoo moments, and just enough humour, to last a lifetime. And it’s those moments which make a good game, a great game. At least in some people’s eyes.
Is 10 seconds enough time to save the world? Probably not, but you can give it a damn good go!