10 Second Ninja moves so fast that it’s over almost before you realize it’s begun, but its brief length is used so effectively as a tool to making a blisteringly precise, difficult platformer accessible that it’s actually the better for it.
Designed as a series of miniature speedruns, you’re given but 10 seconds to complete a given level, jumping, slicing, and throwing shurikens to clear out Robot Hitler’s mechanical army as quickly as possible. It might sound like a gimmick, but levels are designed in such a way as to be almost puzzle like in execution, requiring not only brute reflexes but also an understanding of how to best make use of your limited repertoire to shave off every tenth of a second you can manage.
Naturally, this causes the game to move at a ridiculous pace, but unlike a lot of hyper challenging platformers 10 Second Ninja avoided ever becoming overwhelming. Its basic mechanics give you just enough leeway to experiment within levels so as to keep them from feeling too linear or restricting their design, while being entirely understandable and intuitive to execute, and the necessarily small size of each level keeps the experience easily digestible but not to the detriment of a satisfying challenge. 10 Second Ninja isn’t an easy game, but it always feels surmountable, if only you could find the perfect strategy or go a little faster.
And then an hour later you’re through, perhaps having missed a few perfect level ratings but for the most part seeing what the game has to offer. And surprisingly I was entirely OK with that. 10 Second Ninja for as short as it is makes every moment engaging, each level offering its own twist on mechanics that never change because they don’t need to, and finding time for some humorous dialogue in between smashing up Robot Hitler’s disembodied head. There’s just something inherently entertaining here, and it all comes together into a tightly condensed package that understands it doesn’t need to be hundreds of hours long. It just needs to be fun.
"Quick Thoughts" is a subset of my normal reviews for smaller games which might not fit into a full review but I still have something to say about.