One of the creative minds behind Castles in Sky in now back with a frantic mixture of nazi robots, spikes and ninjas. The lose plot revolves around a robot Hitler and a ninja having to destroy robots with a big sword. It’s not likely to win best screenplay but then sometimes you just want to jump around and hit things.
A platform game mixed with a heavy puzzle element, the main gameplay gimmick is that you only have ten second with which to complete each stage. The timer only starts after you make your first move which means you can spend some time surveying the single screen style levels in an attempt to work out the best route to victory.
Your Ninja has a couple of skills to help along the way. You can use three shurikens in each level and also double jump. You’ll need to work out the best enemies to hit with throwing stars in advance as it can be the difference between victory and defeat if you use them in the wrong place. Shurikens can also be used to set off icicle falls, which in turn can crush robots for you.
You’ll need to complete levels as quickly as possible as well as you're awarded between one to three stars upon completion. You’ll start out completely mystified as to how you get the two or three star ratings but as you progress it all becomes clearer. Getting three stars on levels does require almost Jedi like reflexes though.
The levels themselves are a mixture of floating platforms, spikes and collapsing stones. More obstacles and enemies are added as the game progresses and you also have to contend with some good old fashioned ice stages as well. Everything is there for a reason and that reason is for you to plan your assault and deal with the robots as quickly as possible.
The star system does create a problem however, as you are required to collect a certain amount before taking on each areas boss. In our view the requirement is set a touch too high and we can see players hitting a complete dead end at times. In a game all about speed and momentum the need to better a high score and get higher amounts of stars is high enough without the enforced star barrier at the end of each level. It’s about the only misstep in what is a compact and focused game.
The boss fights themselves have the same ten second time limit and you also have your shurikens removed. They prove to be good fun and not a massive stumbling block to progression. They are simply designed as a different sort of puzzle to work out and work well to break up the regular levels.
Overall, 10 Second Ninja is a strong debut for the developer. There’s a hints of Kung Fu Rabbit and N+ (among other things), but the game also has its own distinct personality. It’s a fast, slick and fun game and one that will provide bite sized chunks of twitch gameplay. It achieves pretty much everything it sets out to and is certainly a game that we’ll come back to again and again.