I promised my editor I wouldn’t swear…
Coming away from 10 Second Ninja, I am left with an overwhelming feeling of admiration and respect. How is it possible that a man as young as Dan Pearce has created such a masterful video game with only a little help from his friends along the way? How has he crafted such an intense twitch-platformer that is so damn addictive?
The concept is barmy: you are a Ninja and you have to kill Nazi-Robots commanded by Robot Hitler. There are cutscenes; they are daft, it is wonderful. Thankfully, it’s also funny as well. Hitler is personified in such a daft manner, and there’s one moustache joke that really made me laugh out loud.
It’s all rather simple, actually. Each level starts with a ten second time limit, and you have to clear the single-screen level of all enemies as quickly as you can. The fun factor comes from the fact that you can achieve up to three stars, depending on how quickly you do it.
Moving across a variety of worlds made up by the levels, each one culminates in a boss battle against Robot Hitler, which itself can be beaten in a ridiculous time, all with the aim of topping the leaderboards. All you’re equipped with is a double-jump, your sword, and three shurikens. Each level seemingly has a specific methodology involved in beating it with the fastest time, it’s almost puzzle-like in the intricate design. Once you figure out the way to beat it quickly, it’s just a case of executing it – making fingers and thumbs follow your instructions, which isn’t always easy.
Super Meat Boy springs to mind, and not just because there are familiar elements to the platforming and speed of the game, but because it is as well designed as Team Meat’s classic release. 10 Second Ninja just wouldn’t work if the controls weren’t tight, and the instant reset available to you means you’re never more than a button press from being back in the action.
The soundtrack is suitably urgent, too, pushing you on to get those better times. But you don’t have to grab three stars for every level, and you’re never punished for not being able to do so. The very best games of this ilk make you better at them naturally, and the addition of new mechanics each world help to do this. By the time you beat world three, there’s a high likelihood you’ll be able to go back to world one and get three stars on every level. It’s only later that the really hard levels unlock, and the satisfaction from getting three stars is immense.
If you wanted to barrel through and just see all the levels, you could probably do so in a few hours. But only the very skilled will get to see the bonus levels, and before the end it’s likely you’ll need to back to previous levels to get the requisite amount of stars to unlock them. But it’s never punishing; it’s just about skill.
VERDICT: Instant gratification combined with those stellar mechanics mean you’ve got a hardcore platformer with the hooks to keep you coming back for more. In the cold light of day, there could have been a few more levels, but overall, if you’ve got the ability to play PC games, this is one you should be buying as soon as you can. It’s also the kind of game (and developer) that the likes of Sony should be sniffing around for the PS Vita.
SUPERB. This is the mark of greatness, only awarded to games that engage us from start to finish. Titles that score 9/10 will have very few problems or negative issues, and will deliver high quality and value for money across all aspects of their design.
Review code provided by developer.