Four Circle Interactive have a lot to answer for. Their latest console and PC title, 10 Second Ninja X, is even more frustrating that Super Meat Boy was.
Twitch games are a fast growing genre, it seems, but 10 Second Ninja X is not as late to the party as it might first appear.
The original version of the game arrived on Steam a few years back and this new ‘X’ version is a much-improved and updated attempt to bring it a new audience, and rightly so. It adds an extra 60 levels to the game, with the original graphics remastered in HD in the process.
If you’re new to the genre then all you need to know is that it involves lightning reflexes and the ability to memorise muscle patterns in an attempt to complete each level in the quickest time possible. Four Circle Interactive’s twist with this game is that every level has to be completed in a minimum of 10 seconds, unlocking stars for each time barrier you hit in the process.
The aim is to kill all the robots in the level, either by using your sword or limited number of shuriken (ninja throwing stars) that you have on you. Your controls are simple to learn, direction buttons, a double jump (but no wall jump), sword and shuriken. That’s it, but knowing the controls alone is not enough to master the lightning quick button presses you’ll need to complete the levels in time.
Initially you’ll blast through the first couple of levels after a few tries, a single star to show for your effort, but once back in the hub level, Captain Greatbeard’s boat, you’ll soon realise that at least 20 stars are needed to move further in the game, which means back to the drawing board in an attempt to shave seconds off your time.
Levels are designed deliberately to give you different ways of completing each one, but usually only one way which will net you the precious 3 stars. There’s a certain amount of logic and planning to the process and it’s not for nothing that the game lets you pan around and plan your attack before the timer starts to count down when you make your first move. It might occasionally feel unfair and the controls at times do feel like they’re against you a little more than in some other twitch type games, but it’s designed well enough to be possible to get 3 stars and sometimes the answer is to just look at the level a different way.
The gameplay is all wrapped in a storyline which constantly made me chuckle. There are numerous references to Sonic The Hedgehog, including Greatbeard himself providing a very good stand in for Dr Robotnik, capturing your animal friends and turning them in to robots. Add some other mini-game elements and secret levels and you have a solid indie game that’s well worth the cost. Playstation 4 players even get cross-buy with Vita.
You can check out some of my failed attempts on the first few levels below.