Preview | 10 Second Ninja X

Back in 2014 Four Circle Interactive launched 10 Second Ninja, an extreme time-trial platform game which saw a fast-footed Ninja neutralising Nazi… robots. The game received rave reviews on Steam where it sits strong with a Very Positive review score after over 500 user reviews.

10 Second Ninja X is built from the ground up, designed to expand where the first didn’t, taking the first game’s 40 levels and making 60 more; replacing filler cut-scenes with a hub world; taking the smaller levels of the first and replacing them with levels that more-often-than-not take more than one screen. They’ve also redone the art, scrapped the Nazi gimmick, and added in an optional hint system. It’s more grown up, refined, and well, subsequently a lot better.

Old vs new. There's been a major detail overhaul, and the Red/Blue contrast stirs memories of an older, renowned rivalry.
Old vs new. There’s been a major detail overhaul, and the Red/Blue contrast stirs memories of an older, renowned rivalry.

It’s a revision set to relaunch next month, on July 19th, when it was launch for PC, PS4, Xbox One & Vita. I’ve spent a little over four hours playing a preview build of the game now – which, considering the game’s nature, is vastly over the 17 minutes that it should have taken to book all of the levels.

This is because -as you might expect- the game is tough due to the tight time restraints, but also because each of the levels are designed carefully ensuring that the levels are open enough to have multiple viable routes, yet only one which will score you a three star time. As a matter of fact, I’d argue that the most frustrating levels of the game are the first ones where you don’t have access to the hint feature, and also haven’t quite learnt to double back on first instincts, and avoid double jumping where possible. Of course, there’s other quirks to learn, the hit box on the blade attack, and, well, the intricacies of the game’s other mechanics including switches, reflective lasers, and electrified foes you have to kill with ranged attacks.

The game's world hub has a large screen which doles out the game's humour through one-sided conversation with the villain.
The game’s world hub has a large screen which doles out the game’s humour through one-sided conversation with the villain.

It’s a hard game to three star, but not a particularly hard game to complete the levels of. It’s strength is in the layout of these levels – more like puzzles – and the layout encouraging you to take an illogical path. I think, best of all, the game’s reloads are instant, however currently if you hit the start button at any point (I played on controller) you get sent back to the level select screen – hopefully for the final version there’ll be a question prompt if you do that mid-game.

From what I’ve played so far, each of the game’s levels are well balanced, with me able to achieve 1 or 2 stars on most of them, and securing 3 stars on ALL I played once I had the hints active. Almost every time I did miss the next star ranking it was done by milliseconds, which in a 10 second level really do count, and it comes across just as frustrating as you might imagine.

There's also a few secret areas which offer up extra dialogue and the chance to unlock a new game.
There’s also a few secret areas which offer up extra dialogue and the chance to unlock a new game.

The inclusion of a hub world, clearly separating (and gating) the various worlds behind keys, while also adding a few other places to visit – Benji in the power room, a costume room, a game room, and after some play a challenge room – is an addition I always consider welcome, as it gives you something to do after a particularly tough run. In this case the game room is an adaptation of the shell game which rewards you with five hint tokens should you best it.

The hints are a fine inclusion, you’ll see a ghost ninja run through the level ahead of you, giving clues as to where to use your three shuriken, and which way to head. At the moment some of the later level hints actually use more shuriken than the player has access to – if this is a feature then it’s fine, if not then there’s still ample time to have it ironed out – along with the fact the level select menu shows the wrong images on some levels.

I’m looking forward to playing through the rest of the game as it goes through updates building up to it’s launch in mid July. We’ll be sure to have a full review, going a lot more into depth, on the game ready for launch.

Oh. Also, Benji as a sidekick character is probably one of the stand-out moments I've had with the game.
Oh. Also, Benji as a sidekick character is probably one of the stand-out moments I’ve had with the game.
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