Tuesday, 19 July 2016 00:00

10 Second Ninja X Review

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I'll say off the bat that I'm over the ninjas-vs-pirates theme (let alone adding in robots), but I tried my hardest not to let that tinge my experience.

And it turns out only to be one pirate vs. one ninja, so it's fine. It's a nice simple story (ostensibly), just enough to hold a game together with excellent little jokes and good timing, which is hard to pull off in game dialogue.

It only took a few levels before I started to feel the hooks sink in--this game has me. It's fast-paced, silly, and just plain fun. The gameplay is intuitive--nothing is explained, and nothing needs to be. The levels restart with no delay when you die (and you'll die, ohhhhhhhhh will you die), the timer doesn't start until you do, and you can restart a level on your own if you don't want to run down the clock after a mistake. All things that I'd long for if they weren't there but would never think to ask for.

The music is good, engaging but unobtrusive, and that's important in a game where you need to get into the zone. This game will put you in the zone. The animation is also a good match for the game, and everything looks intentional; there's detail where there needs to be, and the places left simple look right. The controls are about as simple as can be, and that's good because otherwise, I'd blame some of my 1,000 deaths on them (speaking of which, I'd love to get a death counter in here).

This is one of those games that are easy to get the hang of and hard to excel at, but it demands just the right amount of success from you in order to proceed.

The levels get harder, and you get better. The controls will become a part of you, you'll feel pretty good about knocking out a few levels at three stars, and then you'll look at the Global Leader Boards and think "have hummingbirds figured out how to play video games?"

But wait, it's not just fighting robots!

The story and the gameplay blend together as you start exploring the ship (I want to live on this ship!) and the story takes a few unexpected, though not entirely original, turns. Characters pop up in a game that could have just been a list of levels, and you may or may not find yourself growing attached to these characters and becoming concerned when they act in a manner inconsistent with self-interest. Maybe.

I beat the main game in one sitting; I knew that I would need to do this as soon as I was in the second area. What I didn't know was that I'd go back and try to improve my times until long after my bedtime and well past the point at which my fingers became sore. That part was a surprise (and I'm not done yet!). There's a tremendous wealth of afterplay in this game, and the levels become more satisfying as your standards for yourself get higher.

It's incredibly satisfying to perfectly time a run on a tricky level and I found myself, more than once, pumping a fist in the air with a hearty HELL YEAH!

My primary complaint is that during the final confrontation, the Gameplay to Story ratio approaches 0. Sure, it fits well with the developing story (and it's a sweet, quirky story full of relevant references and just the right amount of dark humor, no doubt) but I want to put all my skills together against a boss I couldn't have conceived of ten minutes ago! Dialogue is fine but save that for after a grand finale!

Thoughts while playing:

"Thank the Lord for Camera Mode"
"Aww, Benji"
"How did I beat that level? Hmm, best just to move on and not question..."
"I wouldn't want someone to call me a 10-second ninja"
"We're going to need a level generator as soon as possible"
"N Game meets Undertale meets Achievement Unlocked?"


The Verdict

A rock solid 8/10. If you like scrolly action games with heart, you will need this. Buy two copies, give one to a friend, become viciously competitive. The game lacks new mechanics and a good boss but other than that, it's fantastic. I may or may not have stopped writing this review to play for a bit more. I'd like to call dibs on reviewing everything Dan Pearce touches.

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Joe Pilato

Joe Pilato works as an engineer and pub quiz host while developing his skills as a standup comic and storyteller. You may occasionally find him wandering the streets of NYC looking for adventure or possibly running into the woods to hide from civilization for days at a time.