10 Second Ninja X is the follow-up to the fast-paced 2014 platformer, 10 Second Ninja, developed by Four Circle Interactive. Despite the similar name, 10 Second Ninja X claims to achieve what the first game set out to in higher definition and with more polish. But how well do these promises hold up? Is 10 Second Ninja X different enough to warrant you spending your hard earned cash?
You control the silent but adorable protagonist aptly named “Ninja,” who has been kidnapped by Captain Greatbeard. The story is utterly ridiculous, but I can’t help but love it. The main aim of the game is to take out every enemy in a level. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, you also have to do this in less than 10 seconds. You read that right — 10 seconds. The only way you can do this is by failing over and over.
The control scheme mapping is very simple: jump, slash, throw shurikens and restart (the latter thankfully has a dedicated button), but don’t let this simplistically deceive you. You’ll die many times in this game, but it will always be your fault. That sounds harsh, but let me explain.
10 Second Ninja X is a bit like Dark Souls in that you have to learn from your mistakes, change your approach and try again until you succeed. When you get past that area you were struggling on or beat that boss that’s been killing you all day, when you finally get that perfect run, defeating all of the enemies in a level, it’s a fantastic feeling. The phrase “practice makes perfect” has never been truer.
Countless times I have have launched my cute ninja friend into a painful electric death trap. Countless times I have timed a double jump horrifically and ended up slipping and falling into a trap, And all of those countless times, I instantly understood the mistake that I made. You never feel slighted or treated unfairly by the pixel-perfect controls.
The levels are vibrant and filled with stunning, simplistic art work that makes the whole experience a visually pleasing one. The graphics won’t exactly blow you away, but they accomplish their task. However, no matter how lovely the art style, you will still want to throw your DualShock 4 across the room at times, especially with the later stages.
10 Second Ninja X was heavily inspired by games like Super Meat Boy and OlliOlli, games where every second feels fun and satisfying. Based on gameplay from the previously released 10 Second Ninja, developer Four Circle Interactive has managed to refine every aspect creating a silky smooth experience. Each time you complete a level you can see your time, a rating on your performance, and how much faster you need to complete the level to reach the next star.
Once you’ve sliced and diced your way through an area of the game you move onto the next, but there’s a catch. You require at least 20 stars to move on. This is a tried-and-true way of getting players to go back and improve their scores. But if you’re like me (that is, absolutely awful) this can be a bit of a pain.
While the game’s blistering difficulty is one of the main aspects of 10 Second Ninja X that will entice players, I felt like it started off way too difficult for newcomers and people lacking the necessary twitch-based reflexes. I understand and love having to learn and adapt my approach to levels, but in 10 Second Ninja X I felt like I was immediately struggling without even having a chance to master the controls.
10 Second Ninja X is as unforgiving and unforgiving gets. Its unique 10 second time limit on each level will keep you on your toes and requires your full, undivided attention at all times. And although 10 Second Ninja X may have some issues with its difficulty ramp, overall it’s a beautiful little game that takes the best aspects of other speed-based platformers and, despite the name, can easily take up hours of your time. The game itself isn’t long, but going back to levels and beating your high score adds hours upon hours of replayability.