Indie Quickie: 10 Second Ninja

It takes a lot longer to fully review a game than it does to get a good sense of what a game is. Even with a full-time staff of writers it would be impossible to fully review the thousands of games that are released every year. Indie Quickie is our way to offer snap impressions of the countless indie titles small teams and one-man game studios are releasing literally every single day, and to help guide players to worthwhile games they may not have heard about before.

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What is it? A plucky little action platformer about a ninja killing Nazi robots within a time limit of 10 seconds. Think of it sort of like Super Meat Boy, Super House of Dead Ninjas and Half-Minute Hero all rolled up into one.

Who made it and where can you get it? GameDesignDan created the game, Mastertronic published it. Steam and Get Games sell it at a regular price of $9.99. During the summer sale on Steam it is currently marked down to $4.99.

How much did we play? Jumped and slashed through enough intervals of 10 seconds to add up to an hour of total play time. I made it through around 20 levels spanning three of the six world themes listed in the level select menu and earned all gold stars in the first world.

Any technical concerns, hardware requirements or other details you should know about? The game completely locked up on me twice, requiring help from Windows Task Manager to force close the game and restart. One of the freezes even caused my Xbox 360 controller’s force feedback to lock up and stay in constant rumble until I was able to shut the game down. On another occasion, after completing a level and during the auto-save period, the framerate slowed to a crawl, almost to the point of appearing frozen, and it took about a minute to return to normal speed so I could continue to the next level. That’s quite a few performance snags to encounter within the span of an hour, especially for such a visually simple (though aesthetically pleasing) game with modest system requirements. At least they only amounted to maybe five minutes of hassle.

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Why should you play it?

    You are a ninja. The world’s first ninja, as a matter of fact. A lone ninja standing between Hitler and world domination. And not just any Hitler. Robot Hitler, a disembodied metal head rocking that signature soul stache like only the Führer can, but sadly not the necessary appendages to draw or paint with. Oh, but he does spit lasers out of his mouth, so he’s got that going for himself, along with an army of devoted robot space Nazis to do his bidding. Ninjas. Robot Hitler. Space Nazis. Sign me up right now!

    The silliness of the plot alone makes the game worth checking out, but while the wacky humor might initially tempt you into taking a closer look, it’s the gameplay that will ultimately make you a believer. Frankly, there isn’t a whole lot to say about 10 Second Ninja. The title says it all: This is a game designed around spurts of gameplay lasting no more than a sixth of a minute at a time. Each stage consists of a unique layout of robot Nazis, platforms and hazards like spikes and falling icicles, and the goal is to kill off Hitler’s stationary droids before the clock runs out at the very least, but preferably with as much haste as possible in order to receive the maximum ranking of three gold stars and earn a speedrun time worthy of being seen on the online leaderboards.

    Finishing half the levels in an hour points to the game being pretty short, but just progressing from stage to stage until they’re all done really isn’t the full picture. Here, the main draw is rerunning levels over and over until you nail the perfect sequence of jumps and attacks that shaves an extra tenth or even a hundredth of a second off your previous best completion time. And then you start again to see if you can somehow do it even quicker, and take that previous one or two star time and turn it into three stars. Thus far, the levels have generally been easy enough to complete at the bare minimum speed without any hair pulling or controller slamming. Shoot for the stars, though, and you’ll be in for a tough fight.

Parting Thoughts: 10 Second Ninja is hated by Nazis and he probably isn’t a big hit with the ladies, if you know what I mean. Yet this diminutive master of the ninjutsu arts has the charming personality and sharp gameplay skills to win over the hearts of gamers as deftly as he rids the world of Hitler’s robotic army. Even in only a short period of time, the compulsion to keep playing has already proven to be nearly impossible to resist. A lot of that can be attributed to the instantaneous reloads — just hit a button and the stage and timer are reset without a moment wasted. But the efficiency and simplicity of the controls is a driving force behind the game’s addictive playability. The ninja moves with the twitchy speed and precision of Super Meat Boy, plus he’s got offensive capabilities wielding a sword and three shurikens. (Take that, Nazi robot bastards!) The technical hiccups are a concern, but their impact on my enjoyment of the game was nil, and if they turn out to be widespread issues rather than odd quirks contained to my system (I haven’t had a chance to check the Steam boards for any similar reports from other players) they are minor enough that it seems like the developer could easily optimize the game with a patch.

Disclosure: A free Steam key for 10 Second Ninja was provided to VGBlogger.com by the game’s publisher.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!