10 Second Ninja X Review

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Title: 10 Second Ninja X
Developer: Game Maker Studio, Curve Digital
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: Vita
Download:  210 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: 
Yes

There are lots of games out there that try to mimic other games.  In fact, this is sometimes called a “genre” where a lot of games are similar.  You also have other games that many people refer to as “rip-offs”.  Take Blue Beacon for example.  I reviewed that for PS Mobile and it played and looked just like a retro Mario game.  It is what you’d call a “rip-off”.

Other games have similar elements to some franchises and not others.  A game’s story might look like a huge homage to a popular series, but the rest of the game may be completely different.  That’s what I have for you today.  This game’s story will heavily remind you of a particularly popular platformer series.  But the rest of the game will be something you’d not expect at all.

So, here is my review of 10 Second Ninja X!

Story

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Looks like Sonic and Eggman, right?  

The plot revolves around a pirate and a ninja. The Blue Ninja lives in the forest as the Guardian of it and all of the animals inside.  One day, in an attempt to derail the Ninja’s reputation as being the fastest person in the world, a pirate kidnaps all of the animals and traps them inside robots.  Once the ninja is brought aboard the pirate’s ship, he is tasked with fighting the robots to free his friends while put in challenges to test his speedy resolve.

In many ways, I’m reminded of Sonic the Hedgehog from this game’s story.  Robots with captured animals.  A blue main character, and the fact that the pirate has a hover chair that looks just like the one used by Dr. Eggman in the Sonic series.  There is heavy Sonic inspiration all throughout the storyline of the game.

Another nice thing is that the story in this little indie game keeps going.  Instead of just providing you with a scenario and throwing gameplay at you, you get to see the story progress after each set of levels and see how things change for you, the pirate, and the others aboard the ship.

Gameplay

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Ninja vs Robots, and avoid those instant-death electric traps

10 Second Ninja X is what you could call an expansion or remake of the original 10 Second Ninja game.  It is a 2D platformer with puzzle elements thrown into the mix.  Overall, you’ll be platforming and fighting enemies in small side-scrolling levels with puzzle elements as well as time management elements.

The main difference between this and the original game is that it is a much larger game.  The “X” version has 60 levels to its main storyline that were not in the original game.  Then, the entire sets of levels from the original unlock and are able to be played.  In short terms, there’s more than twice the amount of content in this version of the game.

Progression will basically go from doing a set of levels and then exploring the ship, do the next set of levels, explore the ship, and you keep repeating this process until you reach the end of the game.  It’s a pretty simple premise and definitely not the first game on the Vita that has done something like this.

Unlocking new worlds requires you do collect Star Ranks from previous ones.  Each world has 10 levels, and the better you do, the better your rank, from 1-3.  Once you achieve 20 ranks, the next world opens and you repeat this process for the rest of the game.

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Exploring the ship is quite the fun little side task

Ship progression is what makes this game stand out so much.  After each world, you get to explore the ship, talk to NPCs, play mini-games to get tokens so the game will give you hints on levels you get stuck on, and collect hidden items that unlock rewards.  There’s more to the game than just constantly doing level after level after level.  This ship progression really helps balance things out so it never gets old or repetitive during the journey.

How you do these levels is where the game’s title comes in.  Each stage has you placed in a 2D arena with enemies.  You then have 10 seconds to navigate the level and defeat all enemies by going up to slash them, throw shurikens at them and later one, start using obstacles to ricochet shurikens around and do maneuvers to defeat far-away enemies with ease.  The faster you do it, the better your rank.  Since you pretty much need a 2-star rank in every level to unlock the next world, it’s best to look around the stage before you start so you have a plan in order to do this.

The idea of only having 10 seconds to complete a stage sounds pretty intense, and it can be.  To be able to get 2-3 stars, you have to be light-ning fast in your platforming and attacking.  Even 1/10th of a second could be the difference between getting 1 star or 2.  The game even has a trophy for missing a rank by 0.03 seconds.  Strategy and reflexes are key here.

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Challenged yet?  Try flipping switching and taking all of them out in less than 10 seconds

This is where difficulty comes in.  This game is advertised as a hard-as-nails platformer that will have you raging and tossing your controller (or in this case, PS Vita) across the room in absolute fury.  I’m not sure I really agree with that.  Doing World 1 will be a challenge as you’re learning the ropes of the game so you’ll probably have to repeat stages there a lot as you learn.  Once you do that, it shouldn’t be all that hard.  Past World 2, there weren’t many stages I had to repeat in order to get a Rank 2 score.  Now, if you want to do Rank 3 for everything, that’s a different story.

The game flows well and, honestly, I quickly got addicted to how handy and pick-up-and-play the game was.  With each stage only lasting 10 seconds, it easily came into “Well, just one more stage” territory.  However, there are two things that had issues.  First is Benji, your temporary companion on the ship.  Second is network notifications.

Benji follows you around and talks to you, which is all fine.  Except every time he talks, the game forces you to stand still while he is talking.  In the middle of jumping when he talks?  Your jump ends in mid-air and you fall to the ground.  There’s no way to turn this off outside of going into a stage and attacking him to knock him out.  It drove me nuts every time he jumped around me when I was trying to search for collectibles, especially since he talks every 2-3 seconds.

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These pop-ups every time you go to select a stage is very irritating

Network notifications is the other thing that caused annoyances.  The game constantly checks the online leaderboards when you’re at the stage select area.  This is convenient when you want to see who has the top scores for stages.  However, it also causes a lot of network pop-ups.  If your net connection is low, or if you’re not at home and connected to Wi-Fi, every single trip into that room will leads to a “You are not connected to the Internet” pop-up that forces you to stop what you’re doing and dismiss it.  The PS4 version does this too, but it is just a notification that doesn’t actually stop the game.  Much less convenient and more of an issue on the PS Vita.

Now, how long is this game?  Given that each level is only 10 seconds long and there’s a little over 100 levels, you could potentially beat the game’s levels in 16 minutes plus about the same in exploration, plus more for cutscenes.  However, given the idea of looking and planning before stages begin and re-doing stages when you fail, I would give each stage more like a minute or so.  If I were to guess an exact time frame for beating the game, it’d probably be around 3-4 hours.  Not bad for a game that only costs $5.99 (Week 1 Sale Price).

Controls

Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about touch controls.  The game is fully compatible with the PlayStation TV, but even on the Vita, touch controls never show up, allowing your quick movements to be localized to the physical button controls.

Movement is done with the D-Pad or Left Analog Stick.  The Right Stick is used for camera movement at the beginning of each stage.  X is used for jumping, Square for sword attacks, and Circle for throwing Shurikens.  Triangle doesn’t do anything.  Finally, the L and R triggers are used for restarting your stage and Start will take you back to the Stage Select on the ship.

Things are explained pretty well, as there are tutorial stages as the story begins.  You shouldn’t have any problems figuring out what things do.

Presentation

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The screen isn’t always blue-tinted.  That’s just the laser effect

Visually, the game looks nice and crisp.  In all honesty, it doesn’t look different between the Vita version on the PSTV and the PS4 version.  Both versions look colorful and really well optimized.

The major difference between them is load times.  On the PS4, transitioning into stages and going back to the ship will take little more than 1-2 seconds.  On the Vita, it’s more like 5 seconds.  Nothing to fret over, but just a noticeable difference in loading sequences.

Summary

10 Second Ninja X is something that I considered a borderline addiction until I had it mastered.  There are some annoyances with Benji’s speech and network pop-ups, but platforming fans should take note that this is a fast-paced and moderately challenging platformer perfect for the handheld world. 

8/10

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