Fruit Ninja Kinect
Having not previously played ‘Fruit Ninja’ on the iPhone (as app fads such as ‘Angry Birds’, etc. are usually heavily over-rated), I went into this game with an open mind. Moreover, I could not be sure what to expect from it, with this being the first appearance of a Kinect XBLA game, as well as the first iPhone to Xbox 360 crossover. I was more than willing to give this game a go though, as I’ve found the Kinect games I’ve played - Kinectimals and Your Shape: FE in particular – very impressive efforts and well worth the money.
Fruit Ninja Kinect has no storyline or ending but this just doesn’t matter – it’s too much fun! In at nutshell, the concept of the game is to slice and dice fruit as it flies up on-screen, hitting as much as you can. Generally the easiest way to get the big points is to use your hands, but the game is clever enough to recognise your feet also, if you dare. To gain the highest scores, the player can use ‘Combos’ to get bonuses, which involves hacking up a string of multiple fruit with one swipe of the hand. Additionally, it is possible (and fairly straightforward) to link combos together and perform one combo after another, leading to a ‘Combo Blitz’ and rising up the ranks the more you get in a row.
Half Brick Studios definitely cannot be accused of being lazy during the production of this game and relying on the success of its iPhone origins. Not only does the game have a plethora of game modes, it also allows for two-player cooperative or competitive play and even an Xbox Live Friends Leaderboards feature.
First of the game’s modes is Classic Mode – easily the most difficult to get to grips with. Players must be very precise and careful when playing, as it only allows for two fruits to be dropped with the third mistake ending the game. Bombs are also in play here and splicing one of these will immediately end the game. However, there is the opportunity to redeem a life (i.e. lost from a discarded fruit) when passing a 100 Score landmark. Arcade Mode is the second playable form. Encompassing all aspects of the game, it is the most manic and will really get your pulse racing. Bombs pop up again, but these simply knock off ten points rather than ending the game. Power-ups are accessible on top of that and have the power to Freeze (slow-mo), Frenzy (extra fruit) or Double Score your game for a short burst of time. Appearing in the form of ‘magic’ bananas, they are very easy to spot. Lastly, Fruit Ninja Kinect offers a Zen Mode – an uncomplicated, serene mode in which the player is free to squish fruit to their heart’s content without interruptions from bombs, lives or power-ups. Additionally, Challenge Mode which is not a mode in itself, but rather a collection of high scores to beat from the three modes, can be chosen. Players will not get bored easily with the adverse gamestyles.
More evidence of the developer’s immense effort poured into this game is shown through its appearance. Gameplay looks amazing and no detail has been spared. For example, each and every fruit (coconuts, apples, strawberries, bananas, kiwis, oranges, lemons, limes, pomegranates, watermelons, pineapples, etc.) had been designed parallel to the actual fruit but with even more colour and pizzazz. The texture of the fruit is incredibly detailed, as is the game’s wood-effect background. Other visual pleasures include unlockable Ninja Blades that can be used instead of the standard slash and such variations include; flames, ice, butterflies, piano keys, pixel blades and many more. Surprisingly for a mere XBLA game, you can even unlock and customise the background upon which the fruit juices splatter...brilliant!
Unlike previous Kinect games, this one responds perfectly to your movements with little or no delay. The coordination of the player to the silhouette – used for precision aiming – is tight and to date I’m yet to experience any problems with it. Dissimilarly again to previous Kinect titles, Fruit Ninja Kinect does not require a huge amount of space to enjoy the game fully and from my own experience it can be played in around a meagre meter square area.
Though the majority of achievements are fairly simple, there are a few that will be a challenge to achieve. The game is the right balance between easy and hard achievements, making it suitable for players of all ages and abilities. Speaking of ages, in addition to its countless noted features, this game even provides some intellectual development for little ones with ‘Fruit Facts’ in the replay screen as well as great physical exercise to keep them in shape.Fruit Ninja Kinect is, in essence, the perfect Kinect game and its best release to date. A must-have for any Kinect fan, Fruit Ninja Kinect is frantic, fearless, fruit-filled fun and my only criticism is that it isn’t a full retail release!