Monday, August 15, 2011

Fruit Ninja Kinect Review

One of my favourite and most played games of all time has to be the $0.99 iPhone hit, Fruit Ninja. The game takes the simple, mundane activity of slicing fruit like an absolute boss and brilliantly transfers it to an on the go item that can be played in 60 second bursts. From the fairly bare bones launch product to the massive success featuring achievements and three game modes, it was only time before it came to the Kinect. Touch control gaming is the step down from motion controls and there are many games that are perfect for flailing your arms around with. Fruit Ninja is the first of I assume many titles and does a great job to finally show off some of the true potential for what is now a monthly arcade Kinect addition. The full game is back in this nearly identical port of the game, as well as new challenges and leaderboards which are now made easily to check your scores against all your Xbox Live friends. These Winter of Arcade titles in the past have always been about chilling out and enjoying some arcade fun, Fruit Ninja Kinect has gotten me up off the couch and excercising when the weather outside has thought otherwise. That alone is probably the best thing about this title, let alone the fact that we get to act like real life ninjas!


If you have played the original, there isn't much different to expect from this title. The background to the game is always a wood pattern and it depends on which background you wish to have at the time. These backgrounds are unlocked as you complete certain tasks and milestones within the game. One of the only additions to the game is yourself as a shadow in the background. The one part of the game they had to change was how it was played as fingers just wouldn't suffice anymore. Putting the player in the background as something that your eyes will phase over is a great idea and works really well. The other customizable area of Fruit Ninja Kinect is the colour and effect on the swipes. These range from musical notes to a fluro coloured stream of light and are really cool parts brought over from the iPhone version. Again these are unlocked the same way as backgrounds.

The music in the game attempts to bring a zen-like atmosphere to the game. While it is nice in the menus, it barely adds anything to the title and is one of the poorer elements of the game. iPhone games don't need that knockout soundtrack as half the time you will be playing them in silence on a tram or bus, more effort definitely needed to be added into a fully fledged arcade title. This is the first title to move from the quality we expect of a $0.99 title to one that should be selling for $10-$20 and I'm sure future developers will learn from this. The menus have also translated poorly to this version of Fruit Ninja. The icons seem to close together and the swiping action from the iPhone version just isn't as precise or simple to use. More thought, especially in the dojo and challenges section also needed to be used by the developers.


Fruit Ninja is made up of three main modes of classic, zen and arcade mode. Classic mode is essentially lasting as long as possible without missing three pieces of fruit or hitting a bomb which will automatically end the game. After a while this is the only mode which presents a challenge as you can genuinely attempt to go for a massive high score and beat your friends. This mode starts off slow yet gradually increases in difficulty and speed of the fruit until inevitably lose as the mode can't be beaten. Zen Mode gives you 90 seconds to get a high score without any bombs or lives to worry about. This mode is fun especially for new comers to the game who want to get the basics of the slicing downpact before moving onto avoiding items. Making combos is the key in this mode to a good high score. Finally the newest and most addicting mode, arcade is basically identical to zen mode except they have thrown in bombs which take away points and special bananas that can either freeze, double points or unleash a frenzy of fruit. This is my favourite mode in the game as the special bananas really add something unique to the slicing formula. I was a bit disappointed to see no true multiplayer mode or even a Kinect-exclusive mode to sink my teeth into.

Fruit Ninja Kinect controls quite nicely with the jump to motion controls. The game definitely doesn't feel as smooth or natural as a finger on an iOS device and the lag from slices will get on your nerves to start with. After probably half an hour of gametime I really felt myself getting into a slicing groove with a new tactic to slice fruit and reaching high scores that were near the ones I spent countless hours getting on my iPhone. The challenges and dojo items are always fun to collect, but the real issue with Fruit Ninja Kinect is any reason to keep coming back to the game. The iPhone version works because you can whip it out when your bored and play for 90 seconds. If you have that amount of time at home there is no point even starting up the Xbox and an online game of COD will probably come before an arcade round of Fruit Ninja Kinect. If they want to make this a must have Kinect title I feel like it needs some sort of battle mode or at least constant updates to make sure I continually return to it. While I love Fruit Ninja, some new to the game might not see the investment in a game you can seemingly finish within 5 minutes.


The approach Microsoft is taking with a continual roll out of Arcade Kinect titles to make that $200 purchase seem worthwhile is a great approach. Fruit Ninja Kinect is a respectable for title even though it falls down in some areas that haven't been translated too well from the iPhone version to the big screen. While I expect more iPhone titles to be released, this is still a valant attempt and I am glad to have the chance to flail my arms like a health ninja. Fans of the original will still find plenty of fun in this game and those who want to see other ways to utilise their Kinect should also give this game a go for the cheap Summer of Arcade price of 800 Microsoft Points. Slice away my students!

Graphics - 8.5/10
Sound - 6/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Overall - 7.5/10