By Jason Quinn / August 5th, 2016
|Title||10 Second Ninja X|
|Developer||Four Circle Interactive|
|Release Date||July 19th, 2016|
|Platform||PC, XBox One, PS4, Vita|
|Age Rating||ESRB T for Teen|
10 Second Ninja X is the sequel to 10 Second Ninja, both of which are action platformers with the twist that each level must be completed in ten seconds. It’s the sort of platformer that requires precise jumps and fast fingers. You’ll be throwing yourself into each level over and over again to land that one perfect run. With 60 new stages plus 40 stages carried over from the first 10 Second Ninja, there’s plenty of content. Although due to the nature of the game, you can go through most of the content in just a few hours. However, the real challenge in this game is getting the fastest time on every level, which might take awhile.
The player’s abilities are simple. There’s jump, double jump, slash with your sword and throw a shuriken. Slashing hits enemies up close, shurikens, of which you only have three per level, hit enemies far away. There are 6 areas in the main game, and within each area are 10 levels. Each level, you must figure out the best way to use the abilities you have in order to complete the stage as quickly as possible, which is achieved when all enemies are destroyed. The player is awarded stars depending on how quickly the stage is completed.
The areas start off with just some basic one hit kill enemies strewn about, but it ramps things up at a nice pace. Each area typically introduces another stage hazard and another enemy. There are advanced enemies that require two hits to kill, enemies that must be killed with shurikens and enemies that can’t be killed with shurikens. Stage hazards range from simple things like electricity that can kill the player on contact, to more complex things like lasers that reflect shurikens.
The most notable feature of this game is the 10 second limit to every stage. Fortunately, the game is nice enough to let you look around each stage before starting, and the timer only starts going down when you start moving. In some later levels, you’ll be staring at that screen for quite awhile, wondering how in the world you’re supposed to get through the level in a measly 10 seconds with only three shurikens at your disposal. If you mess up, don’t fret, a simple push of one of the shoulder buttons will immediately reset the stage and bring you back to viewing the level. This means that while the game is indeed challenging, it’s rarely ever frustrating. The ultimate goal of each level is to get three stars on it, which is done by beating it under a certain amount of time. While simply getting through a level isn’t so hard, getting three stars requires effective use of your abilities.
For the super perfectionists, you can unlock the Marathon version of each area when you get three stars on every level. This mode requires you to complete each level of the area in one go, though you still can take your time before each level starts. You also have the option of having the ghost of your best time run through the level, which is very handy. Once completed, you are given a letter grade based on overall time, how many deaths you have, and how many resets you did.
The story in this game is very simple, as usual for games of this nature. A pirate has captured your woodland bird friends and imprisoned them inside robots, and captured you as well, so you must free your bird friends and gain your own freedom. You meet a couple NPCs and the pirate talks trash to you every now and then. The premise is pretty basic, but it gets the job done, and it’s what most people come to expect from games of this genre.
Despite very much being an action platformer where you’re jumping around, throwing shurikens all over the place and slashing up robots, the game also has a very distinct puzzle element to it. With the 10 second restriction, you must spend time before jumping into a level planning out your actions, which you then execute. Not only does the game require some quick hands, but a bit of cleverness is also needed.
If you feel like getting the optimal routes for each level is a bit too much, don’t despair, there is a little mini-game you can play that will give you hint tokens. While you’re viewing a level, you have the option to spend a hint token, which will cause a ninja ghost to run through the level, showing you the optimal path. This isn’t overpowered though as knowing the route is only half the battle. Executing it will still take some doing.
The graphics have a simplistic and clean look to it, which lends itself to fast paced gameplay, though I feel they can be a bit too plain. One notable issue is that the entire screen flashes red for a couple frames when you kill an enemy. I found this rather distracting at times, especially when killing multiple enemies in rapid succession, which means the screen stays red longer. The music, unfortunately, was nothing to really write home about. Some of the tracks were nice, though some I felt were almost a bit distracting when trying to figure out my route through the various levels.
Gameplay is obviously the main focus of the game, and I don’t have any real major complaints. The controls are responsive and tight, as expected of a platformer like this. Difficulty ramps up fairly smoothly from area to area, with no big spikes. Each area gives you another challenge, so that towards the end, you have to juggle many different things. It never feels overwhelming though thanks to slowly introducing you to each one. Lastly, the reason most folks play these games is for the satisfaction when overcoming a tough challenge. Finally figuring out how to get three stars on a level feels satisfying indeed.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
10 Second Ninja XCurve DigitalFour Circle InteractivePCplatformerPS4VitaXbox One