Platform: Windows, OS X
Release Date: March 5, 2014
“Nothing is more awesome than a ninja!” So proclaimed Robot Hitler, as the 10-Second Ninja title screen opened. And while Robot Hitler isn’t completely right, this indie effort from developer Mastertronic is still worth picking up, if you have time to spare.
The plot goes like this: you are the world’s first ninja, and you set to work building your CV from the dismembered corpses of android Nazis (the Wehr-mecht?). This journey of self-discovery and stabbing takes you across several clusters of two-dimensional platformer levels, completed by killing all the robots therein. But here’s the twist – the levels must be completed in ten seconds or less.
The game’s as much a puzzler as it is a platformer. You have three shurikens, which can take out foes from afar to speed up your run-through a bit, and can view the level layout before the timer kicks in. The key to elusive three-star success, then, is to find the optimal route through with no room for deviation. You’ll end up repeating the same short level a lot, and that can get frustrating. Still, whenever you overstep a few inches, and swiftly introduce your face to a neatly placed spiked wall, it never feels unfair – an important feature in a platformer.
The controls are suitably responsive and reflexive, allowing you to zip through baddies at a fairly nice pace. Even when testing the game out on a Macbook Air – not the most renowned of gaming platforms – it’s possible to get at least able to get two-out-of-three stars on most levels after a couple of run-throughs.
The four worlds are your tried-and-tested bunch from the Assorted Levels bag: Grass World, Canyon World and Ice World, before finishing up at Portal World (for cake). The bright, cartoony art style makes them pop well enough, and they’re interspersed with humorous cutscenes of admittedly variable quality. A personal favourite was Robot Hitler attempting to revitalise his painting career, despite the minor handicap of not having arms.
The main issue, however, is length: the bite-sized, ten-second nature of the levels means the game isn’t built for lengthy playthroughs. The game had satisfied after about three hours, and although it’s easily possible to pop back into it later, it doesn’t exactly justify the £10 price tag.
Still, that’s what Steam Sales are for, and with a 25% discount just a few weeks ago, it’s bound to drop in price again. So while 10-Second Ninja lacks the stand-out spark to put itself on anyone’s “Best Of” list, it’s a pleasant enough game and worth a buy if you spot it at a discount.