10 Second Ninja X is an indie platformer by GameDesignDan, influenced by games like Super Meat Boy but with a twist.
I really enjoyed hearing one my friends grunt and huff in frustration as I challenged them to 10 Second Ninja X one evening last week. We sat in my little lounge, and the three of us all howled in derision and jest as he ran out of time or jumped into an electrified trap over and over again.
This game is evil — evilly hard and evilly addictive. There is no such thing as "One More Go" when 10 Second Ninja is concerned. You'll keep giving yourself the free reign to keep on trying until you begin to worry that all the furious clenching of your Xbox One controller may actually break it. It's a real risk.
What makes it so hard, I hear you ask? The clue is in the title of the game. You have ten seconds to complete each level. Madness, I hear you cry, and you're absolutely right.
Controlling a little ninja, you must guide him through a variety of levels set out on various platforms and with many different obstacles in your way. He has a sword, which you can use for a short ranged attack (by hitting X), or 3 shurikens per level which can be used for long ranged attack (by hitting B). The shurikens are especially useful for attacking robots who could not otherwise be reached — they might be on the other side of a wide pits — or just to save yourself a bit of time. Literally every second counts.
Why is all this happening - Ninjas and robots? The Ninja is world renown for being the best in the world, but Captain Greybeard wants to test your mettle. He thinks it's all talk, and so has kidnapped the ninja and turned all his forest pals into robots. In order to gain freedom for the ninja and his friends, each level must be passed in ten seconds or he's a big fat loser and his forest friends stay nibbling circuit boards indefinitely. There's a nice little throwback to Sonic the Hedgehog in this (however intentional) that when you defeat a robot, it frees an animal from within the robot shell.
Time is of the essence! We could get all Einstein over it and discuss his Theory of Relativity at some depth, but I swear time does seem to slow down as you try to fly through the levels. It's not the time limit that will trip you up — it's user error pretty much every time, and the screams of fury emitted by a 34-year-old man are more of a delight than I'd like to admit. It feels like you have loads of time when you complete the level, not matter how close you cut it. But when you're fumbling about, it feels like it's going double speed.
The screams of fury emitted by a 34-year-old man are more of a delight than I'd like to admit.
The controls are really simple, so you don't need to be some kind of game wizard to be able to pick up and play 10 Second Ninja X. Jumping, slashing and throwing shuriken is about as difficult as it gets which is great for impromptu get-togethers, play-by-plays, and trash-talking battles. All the kinds of things you missed when playing video games with your siblings as children.
You do need to be in control of all of your actions, as over-jumping or firing a shuriken too soon could be Game Over. As each game is scored by how fast you complete the level out of three stars, obviously the faster you finish the more stars you get. Stars are used to unlock new levels, and you can retry any you scored poorly on. Be prepared for a lot of one stars.
The design is simple, and uncluttered. This is good, since your main focus should be completing the level in under ten seconds, and you don't need to be distracted by overly-unnecessary details. So the game is easy on the eyes but blistering on the fingers. The controls are simple enough a child could play, though I doubt their dexterity would be as good as yours (this is a perfect opportunity to raise a child with a 'healthy' competitive streak — wink wink).
I conclude it will probably take me at least forty years to complete every level with three stars, so the value for money is really very good.
It wasn't entirely obvious at first that more of the level might exist beyond your field of view on the screen. A new player might entirely miss the ability to scroll the screen about before the level starts, giving you more time to plan how you'll dominate it. I fell to this a few times until I noticed a reticule pointing above my field of view, showing me that other robots were up there.
If I have the mental stamina I can get through a few levels at a time before having to give up and go rinse off my rage, but there are 100 levels. Judging by my gaming level and dexterity, I conclude it will probably take me at least forty years to complete every level with three stars, so the value for money is really very good. I will probably be dead before I complete this fully, and it won't be from lack of trying.
Ninja fingers took on a new meaning after playing 10 Second Ninja X.
GameDesignDan did a really great job at creating a game that is viciously hard for the sake of being hard, but made it fun and addictive.
- Pick up and play controls
- Clean and simple design
- 100 levels of challenging action
- Risk of broken controllers
$5.99 / £8.99
Disclaimer: This review was conducted on Xbox One with a review code provided by the developer.