Four Circle Interactive’s original 10 Second Ninja on PC was a bloody tough game, seeing players take on the role of a cute-yet-incredibly stoic little shinobi that had to fight his way through a hordes of angry robots in ten seconds or less.
The sequel-come-reboot, 10 Second Ninja X, makes its way to consoles and PC this week. It keeps the basic premise (and punishing difficulty) of the original, presenting players with 100 levels (60 new and 40 legacy levels form the original 10 Second Ninja) that could, theoretically speaking, be finished in quarter of an hour, but in reality will take you several hours to slash, shuriken and somersault your way through. Like a pet bought from a stranger in a pub, it’s a vicious beast that merely looks cute and fluffy.
The setup is incredibly simple: you have just 10 seconds to kill all the angry-looking robots. The faster you accomplish this, the higher your rating (out of three stars). You need 20 stars in each batch of levels in order to unlock the next set. So far, so good. However, the difference between one star or two is literally just a couple of seconds. Each set of levels introduces an added layer of complexity, with robots that can only be killed with shuriken, levers that bar progress and giant bands that redirect your shuriken. The level of skill required to successfully unlock the next set of stages swiftly increases, making the chances of unlocking the next set after your first run laughably slim. Finishing levels isn’t enough to get by. You need to by quick, deadly and practised.
The game’s simple, precise control system makes 10 Second Ninja X feel deceptively easy at first, and decidedly old school. Your ability to double jump, slash with your sword and sling shuriken are all you need to decimate the game’s increasingly deadly gangs of robots. Your quest is to escape from the airship of the evil pirate Greatbeard. Having obviously just graduated from the Dr. Eggman school of obtuse villainy, he’s created a an army of henchmen by turning the local wildlife into mechanized killing machines.
10 Second Ninja X’s stages are bright and colourful affairs, with a delightful 16bit vibe that’s greatly reminiscent of Alex Kidd and Sonic the Hedgehog, though the fast-paced gameplay feels more like a nippier version of Shinobi.
Despite the punishing difficulty level, there’s something incredibly endearing about the whole affair. Even when you find yourself dying over and over again, it’s impossible to get mad with 10 Second Ninja X. Even during the thumb-blistering final stages, there was a massive grin plastered across my face.
10 Second Ninja X is a fun, colourful and extremely moreish action platformer, with plenty of secrets to uncover and a light-hearted humorous streak throughout. Though its micro levels and pick-up-and-play presentation would probably be better suited to handhelds than home consoles, it’s a ton of fun regardless of what platform you choose to play it on. 10 Second Ninja X once again proves the old adage that gameplay is king.