Published on July 30th, 2016 | by Elizabeth Henges0
10 Second Ninja X Review (PS4)
Back when Super Meat Boy was released, there were a slew of super difficult platformers (or masocore games) on the market. These titles happily punish players repeatedly and provide a master class in pixel perfect platforming. It’s a genre that doesn’t appeal to everyone, as the memorization and repetition can easily frustrate, but the feeling of achievement for finally beating ‘that one stage’ can’t be beat.
While there has been a trickle of masocore games since Super Meat Boy put the genre on the map, there has been an overall downturn of releases as of late. That’s where 10 Second Ninja X comes in, with a couple twists that help it stand out in the genre…although, unfortunately a couple issues really hold the whole experience back.
At its core, 10 Second Ninja X is a platformer. Levels are doled out in little, easy to digest pieces and there’s a clear path of progression, with a new set of 10 levels unlocked when a certain amount of stars are obtained. At each unlock there are little cutscenes, which frankly are filled with unfunny, somewhat cringeworthy humor, but most of it is short enough to not be bothersome…well, except Benji, who is the most annoying sidekick I’ve had to deal with in a video game ever.
Imagine a character who pipes up as often as Navi, but each time they talked, your character would be stopped in their tracks. Yes, the titular ninja is unable to move until they push the dialogue forward. Frustrating in the most innocent of scenarios, downright infuriating when he blesses you with his ‘encouraging’ pep talks in the middle of a double jump. It’s meant to be a joke, but it’s not very funny and just ends up being a nuisance.
Other than Benji though, what sets 10 Second Ninja X apart from other masocore games is right in the title. Players have 10 seconds to beat each stage, which comes down to defeating all the enemies within it. It turns every level into more of a puzzle, trying to figure out how to efficiently defeat all of the robots before the 10 seconds are up. Some enemies require multiple hits to kill, and others need to be hit with the very limited amount of shurikens at the ninja’s disposal. Learning what order to tackle the foes and what to attack them with is a major part of the game.
Depending on how quickly you finish the stage, you can get up to three stars. You get one star for completing the stage, and the other two are awarded for beating specific time limits. This causes one of the problems with the game—in order to progress, you have to get two stars on every level to earn enough stars to move on to the next set of levels. However, the time limits on some levels are very hard to hit, unless you know the specific way to tackle the harder stages. It doesn’t always become a sticking point, but I found that some stages are easier to three-star than others are to two-star, simply because the “correct way” to beat the stage was more apparent.
The much larger sticking point of 10 Second Ninja, however, is a rather damning bug. As of the build I played, there is a save bug that caused me to lose a fair amount of progress, and it’s seemingly not an isolated incident. While the overall gameplay of 10 Second Ninja X is pretty good, it’s extremely disheartening to lose progress because the game wasn’t saving appropriately, especially when it’s not readily apparent when the bug occurs.
10 Second Ninja X’s graphics are nothing more than average. They’re serviceable—the ninja and robots stick out from the background, as well as the electricity that is the major hazard. From there, it’s just a flat, basic cartoon look. Then again, when playing these types of games the graphics aren’t that important beyond whether you can make things out or not, though it would have been nice if they looked just a little more polished or unique.
There’s also really not much to say about the audio. While there is music, it’s largely forgettable and blends into the background of sword slashes and robots exploding. When you die, there is a buzzer sound that goes off, and since you die a lot, the buzzer can get a little grating (though thankfully the developer made the sound a bit muted so it wasn’t too loud), but other than that there’s nothing that left a lasting impression.
10 Second Ninja X is a bit of an unfortunate case. It has the potential of being short and fun, a nice twist on the typical masocore formula. However, there’s a fatal flaw with the title in the save bug, and nothing is more demoralizing than fighting tooth and nail to two-star a bunch of missions, only to come back later and see your progress is gone. From there, the system falls apart from something fun to immensely frustrating. If this bug is patched, it’s worth a hardcore platformer fan’s time, but stay far away until it is.
Review Copy provided by Curve Digital
Summary: 10 Second Ninja X does have the potential to be a fun massocore title, but this game is a the poster child of how one bug can ruin an entire experience.