There’s not a lot you can accomplish in ten seconds but, then again, you’re not a ninja. You see, in ten second or less, a ninja can defeat several Nazi Robots or even take on Robot Hitler. But ten seconds really isn’t good enough.
In 10 Second Ninja, you’ll be aiming for under five seconds – or as close to zero as possible – to succeed, with each level putting you in a room with strategically placed Nazi Robots which you’ll have to destroy as time counts down, either by slashing them with your blade or throwing a shuriken at them. It’s a tactical yet faced paced affair, and one which fans of games such as Super Meat Boy will love.
Unlike Meat Boy, completing levels themselves isn’t the hard part, and you’ll often succeed on your first try unless a mistimed jump lands you on a set of spikes which, along with walls, form the only real obstacles in the first section of the game. The hard part is after that, where you try to get star ratings, with three stars taking form of an absurdly low and almost impossible time to achieve time. At least, that’s how you’ll see it at first.
The real beauty of 10 Second Ninja is how it compels you to try over and over again, in ten second increments, meaning it seems as though you’re spending no time at all. While levels may be over in mere seconds, you’ll find yourself spending much longer – hours, even – simply trying to get that score down a little bit further through constant retries.
Restarts are quick, snappy, and in a genius move, the timer doesn’t start until you’ve pressed a button. There’s only a few of those, too, using the directional pad to run and jump with Z and X for your two attacks. The real deciding factor is how you combine these button presses, and how quickly you press them, as you try to perfect the craft.
Thankfully, buttons are extremely responsive, and despite a few control issues elsewhere, which should be ironed out by the time the game releases, the game works very well – if you fail, it’s almost always your fault. Unless, of course, you come within two milliseconds of the three stars. Then it’s absolutely the game’s fault.
Times between star ratings are often marginal, measured in milliseconds rather than lengthy seconds, and nowhere near minutes. You’ll be constantly analysing each stage before you go, learning to avoid double jumping at one section or slowing down at another, instead working out how to take out multiple enemies at a time. It’s constant, brilliant and absolutely rewarding when you finally get your time down by fall-killing an enemy before double jumping onto the next platform.
Presentation is very simple, adopting the pixel-art look that many indie games thrive on, which means no slowdown and speedy loading times. It’s colourful, and music is suitably ninja-esque, with some lovely background music and jingles as you set a new personal record on a level. The Nazi Robot angle is really only set up for laughs, adding to the quirky charm of the game, as they try to take out the ninja in the first section without actually having any weapons.
There’s also leaderboards, naturally, and while it’s good to see how you can match up against your friends or the rest of the world in each section of the game as a whole, there unfortunately doesn’t appear to be individual level leaderboards. Although, those could also be expected to arrive before the game launches next month.
It’s just a brilliant mix of platforming, finding rhythm in controls, and trying to be as fast as you possibly can in order to beat the clock. Although the first ten levels which I’ve played are quite basic, some new dynamics – and enemies with weapons – should make the subsequent stages even more brilliant, difficult and rewarding.