Developer Four Circle Interactive‘s sequel to 10 Second Ninja will make you want to pull your hair out, but with its fast gameplay, pick-up-and-play immediacy, and instantly rewarding gameplay, it will keep you coming back for more.
10 Second Ninja X hits Xbox today and brings action arcade style cartoon fun to the home console. The game opens up in a bright and colourful world with a quick tutorial that introduces players to all of the ninja hero’s abilities before the story’s antagonist, Captain Greatbeard, makes an entrance.
Players will find themselves inside an arcade style action puzzler that gives players… 10 seconds, on each level to dodge obstacles and finish off the robotic henchmen of the evil captain. At the end of each level, players are graded on a 3 star system.
Ninja X has over 100 levels (40 remastered from the original game) grouped into area types, each offering different art styles. As you proceed new enemies are introduced, requiring different tactics to defeat, or environmental obstacles to overcome. New areas are unlocked upon reaching a minimum set overall star count.
When selecting a level, as long as you don’t hit any buttons, you are given an unlimited amount of time to scout the level out to strategise – important as the 10 second countdown will start as soon as you do.
Controls feel extremely smooth and easy to get to grips with. Movement mechanics complement the game’s genre, as well as the concept of playing as a ninja. Never did I feel like my movement abilities were limiting my chances of success. Alongside the movement, our hero is limited to only jumping, sword swinging, as well as throwing ninja stars – limited 3 per level attempt.
Rather than being a limitation, this restricted moveset forces you to use the environment and keeps you focused on strategy. We almost never did well on our first attempt at any level, and this may disgruntle players at first. Our countless fails made us want to kick a kitten (no kittens were harmed while conducting this review). With each run guaranteed to be less than 10 seconds, though, you’re straight back into your next attempt before you know it. And 10 Second Ninja X offers a helping hand when you are really struggling.
Through simple exploration players are treated to secret areas, as well as a mini games that reward your ninja with tokens. Tokens are used on levels to show you a hint – helpful when you are struggling to grab that extra star – or just to complete it at all.
From the outset it’s looks as though 10 Second Ninja X isn’t something you play for a compelling plot, which is of the “hero needs to go rescue this” ilk. There is emotion to be found, though, and you’ll unexpectedly grow attached to the characters in the game. There’s humour throughout and whilst some of it feels forced, there are certainly a few laugh out loud moments.
Whilst playing through the story mode is relatively brief (there’s a handful of hours here) there’s still much to offer when you have done so. Transfers between levels are quick, and with a single button press required to reset a level and start again (think Trials here) 10 Second Ninja X keeps you engaged in the action.
Replaying levels is where this game really shines. Even after completing the first 100 levels we had the urge to go back and improve our times, armed with experience and a fistful of hint tokens. Global leader boards to a great job of motivating repeated attempts, too – when we landed a global rank #1 time on one level it felt we’d just completed Dark Souls blind-folded!
With all the replay value 10 Second Ninja X has and the simple level and environmental items, I still found myself wishing I had access to a level designer mode which would give it unlimited replay potential.
The game has a cartoon feel – colours are bright, but the designs are intelligent and help spark the ingenuity needed to complete them at break-neck speed. Sound design is clever, too; while scouting a level out the music is upbeat but light – but picks up instantly as soon as you start, boosting adrenaline levels even further.
There’s a surprising amount of fun here, doled out in 10 second doses. Frustration gives way to joy when you beat a previous best time – and you are spurred on to try even harder next time. With great characters and side activities, there’s time enough to allow your brain to cool off enough to jump right back in to levels and shave off more seconds. There’s a nice balance too – levels that seem impossible are ultimately conquerable once you have learned to master the game’s varied mechanics.
What do you think of our review? Let us know in the comment section below!
Making frustration feel exciting, fun, and wonderful.
10 Second Ninja X is a great sequel to the original. It offers smooth gameplay, great characters, and strong reasons to keep coming back. While it does a great a job keeping the fun level up, and motivates you to keep going, the steep learning and difficulty curves hurt new players in the early levels. Although a level creator would be nice, it doesn’t hold this title back from being an amazing, engaging, competitive experience.