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Review

Review: Fruit Ninja Kinect

Those pomegranates will feel my fist.

Fruit Ninja Kinect is the first XBLA title that has been allowed to ‘Jump In’ with Microsoft’s motion sensing technology. After a year or so of Kinect titles which have regularly seemed to have an air of lacklustre mediocrity about them, this simple downloadable game might just be Kinect’s killer app.

Firstly, it’s important to be clear about what this game is. Fruit Ninja was a runaway hit on iOS and then other smartphone platforms. It mixed an entertaining idea – that of slicing up fruit – with a simple mechanic – swiping. It’s a basic proposition but it was tuned so tightly and wrapped in such an attractive, colourful graphical package that it caught on and became extremely popular. At least for the casual, albeit huge, smartphone market.

This is our early demonstration of how the game works.
Kinect has struggled with its image somewhat since the first representation it was given at E3 with choreographed gameplay mockups and that, frankly, ridiculous Milo demonstration. Subsequent mediocrity in much of the software line up has perpetuated a feeling of disinterest among, not only those that have always scoffed at anything more family or casually oriented but those who were early adopters. And let’s not forget that Kinect is officially the fastest selling consumer electronic device in the world – there were a lot of early adopters.

In many ways, Fruit Ninja Kinect is the answer to those early issues. It’s unapologetically simple in its premise. Fruit Ninja Kinect seems to be saying “Oh, yes, I’m a casual party game. But you’ll love me.”

For those unfamiliar with the game, here’s the deal: Fruit is seemingly tossed up onto the screen by an unseen force. Both your hands (and feet, if you really are a ninja) are deadly, fruit-slicing weapons. Swing, swoosh and chop the fruit as it momentarily hangs in the air to score points. Chopping multiple fruits with a single swipe increases your combo score and sets you along the path to a much higher score. Swiping a bomb, in game modes where they feature ends the game.

And that’s it. Simple, isn’t it?

It’s a simplicity which belies the compelling nature of the game. That simple urge for “just one more go” is as old as gaming itself and Fruit Ninja Kinect has that in spades.

There are numerous modes that introduce minor gameplay changes like a lives limit that recharges as you score in Classic Mode, power ups for Arcade Mode and the brand new two-player mode but the challenge mode and the leader boards are perhaps the most interesting aspect.


The colourful presentation is perfect for the spirit of the game.
Every time you play, there is a challenge mode which encourages you to perform specific tasks in competition with other players or, often, just to better your own proficiency with the game. It’s perhaps an analogy that’s all too easy to rush to but the comparisons between this and a kind of very simplified Need for Speed Autolog are valid in that both urge you to play the game in a more specific, focussed way. It encourages more competitive play and that is what keeps many coming back. It’s a fantastic idea, as unoriginal as it now may be, and it’s brilliantly implemented here.

Further to the challenge mode and the familiar leader boards, there’s a local two-player mode too. Setting aside the risk of bruised forearms and eye-pokings that come with flailing around whilst standing next to someone else, this is great fun and a lovely addition for a game which is sure to be popular at slightly tipsy after-pub sessions and family parties.

Of course, it’s not perfect. The seemingly random critical hits which award a large points bonus would be better if they were somehow related to the player’s ability. Fruit Ninja is also largely unsuited to longer playing sessions. In part, this is due to the fact that any longer than a couple of hours and your arms will be useless for at least 24 hours but it’s also due to the simplicity that makes the game so enjoyable. It’s fun to do this one focussed thing in short bursts but for most people, that repetition will dissuade them from longer sessions.

Fruit Ninja Kinect is the most responsive, compelling Kinect title I’ve yet experienced and although it’s such a basic concept, it is presented beautifully and with several delightful hooks that will keep you returning to better the achievements made by your friends.

I’m sure there will be those who are keen to point out that this game is not doing anything that wasn’t preempted by the PlayStation 2’s EyeToy or even emulated by certain Move mini games. And they’re right, to a point. But Fruit Ninja Kinect displays a level of precision, accuracy and gorgeous presentation that is incomparable to EyeToy and it has a degree of focussed enjoyment that is unmatched with Move, although a Move compatible port at some point in the future would be most welcome.

Pros:

  • Looks fantastic.
  • Very responsive, great motion tracking.
  • Gameplay is very focussed around an enjoyable system.
  • Challenge mode makes it competitive and compelling.

Cons:

  • Will get repetitive over long periods of play.
  • Quite random point scoring with critical hits.

Info:
  • Developed by Halfbrick Studios.
  • Priced at 800MSP.
  • This is the first Kinect game released on the XBLA.
Fruit Ninja Kinect is a game that should appeal to casual players, looking for fun party games that the whole family can enjoy. But it also has a subtle depth and some great hooks to keep you returning. It might just be the first Kinect game that marries that broad appeal to the massive casual market with the focussed attraction to more traditional gamers.

It’s a great core mechanic, brilliantly implemented and wonderfully presented. It fits the system and the distribution model perfectly and will hopefully see a great deal of interest from a wide range of players.

Score: 8/10

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13 Comments
  1. Foxhound_Solid
    Is a smart cookie.
    Since: Dec 2009

    Good review. Sounds fun.

    Comment posted on 09/08/2011 at 17:12.
  2. colmshan1990
    Member
    Since: Apr 2009

    As much as Fruit Ninja is quite fun on my N8, I’m not convinced it’s a good fit for a console.
    Still, if Flight Control can work, I suppose this can work too.

    When you say this is the first Kinect XBLA game, do you mean it’s the first Kinect-required, or the first to support it? I’d find the second hard to believe, but I’m getting that implication from the review.

    Comment posted on 09/08/2011 at 17:20.
    • Crocadillian
      Member
      Since: Feb 2011

      I’m pretty sure he meant the first XBLA game with Kinect support, i certainly haven’t seen any other supported XBLA games.

      Comment posted on 09/08/2011 at 17:43.
    • colossalblue
      Team TSA: Editor
      Since: Forever

      I think there were one or two games put on to the Games on Demand service that were Kinect enabled but so far every Kinect release has been a disc release. This is the first to be a downloadable.

      Comment posted on 09/08/2011 at 17:54.
    • colmshan1990
      Member
      Since: Apr 2009

      Wow.
      You’d think that XBLA would be perfect for selling motion controlled games.
      I know that the Move has found some love from the PSN, it’s unlike Microsoft to be lagging behind Sony in regards to downloadable content.

      Comment posted on 09/08/2011 at 18:48.
      • colossalblue
        Team TSA: Editor
        Since: Forever

        I couldn’t agree more, XBLA is a perfect home for some of these smaller Kinect games. I’m much more likely to buy this way than I am to spend £40 on a full disc-based game.

        Comment posted on 09/08/2011 at 18:55.
      • colmshan1990
        Member
        Since: Apr 2009

        Yup.
        I’m in the same boat with the Move.
        I’ve far more Move games on my Hard Disk than my shelf.
        And they get played more too.

        Comment posted on 09/08/2011 at 19:01.
  3. Sad Panda
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    69p on the iPod, or 1200 points like the other Summer of Arcade titles. Personally I don’t even think it’s worth the 69p so I’ll pass. Wish this promo would hurry up and end, the whole lot have been a disappointment, and over priced. All my opinion of course.

    Comment posted on 09/08/2011 at 19:50.
    • colossalblue
      Team TSA: Editor
      Since: Forever

      the iOS version isn’t the same and the XBLA version is 800MSP but I see your point. Unfortunately, developers are going to have a really rough ride over the next few years trying to overcome that AppStore pricing crash.

      Crazy that you think this Summer of Arcade stuff has been a disappointment though (although I can kind of see an argument for overpriced). This promotion has probably given us at least three of the best downloadable games since Limbo last year in Bastion, From Dust and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet. Even Fruit Ninja is very good and the new Toy Soldiers looks promising. I’m very surprised anyone found it disappointing.

      Comment posted on 09/08/2011 at 20:03.
      • Smallville2106
        Member
        Since: Feb 2011

        Whether it is good or not 69p vs 800MS points. Same with Angry Birds on PS3. 69p on iOS with tonnes of updates but yet stupidly priced and no updates on PS3.

        Comment posted on 09/08/2011 at 20:10.
      • colossalblue
        Team TSA: Editor
        Since: Forever

        yes, that price discrepancy is something developers are going to struggle with for a while. There’s no way to make money selling much cheaper on the PSN/XBLA but consumers see them as overpriced for no other reason than the AppStore’s catastrophic price crash.

        It’s all about consumer attitudes and it’s going to be a struggle.

        Comment posted on 09/08/2011 at 20:16.
  4. chucky342
    Member
    Since: Jul 2011

    Sounds okay i guess although i wont buy it. I regret buying kinect but don’t want to sell it in case something really good comes out for it.

    Comment posted on 09/08/2011 at 19:55.
  5. Rad4Life
    Member
    Since: Dec 2009

    I don’t own a 360 myself. But the lack of anything compelling for my Move has made me eye the Kinect. There are a lot of cool things coming up for it. This looks really fun.

    Comment posted on 10/08/2011 at 02:33.

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