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Fruit Ninja Kinect Review

4
  • XBGS

From your fingertip to all four limbs, Fruit Ninja Kinect offers simple, satisfying, smoothie-making fun that capitalizes on Kinect’s strengths.

Fruit Ninja Kinect represents a unique new vector for games that originally caught on--and in Fruit Ninja’s case, caught on pretty big--on Apple’s iOS platform. Though a few mobile-born games have graduated to the PC and other downloadable platforms, Fruit Ninja Kinect is the first to try to translate those touchscreen controls to the touch-free controls of Kinect, and frankly, I can think of few better candidates. The simple fingertip swiping motions of Fruit Ninja scale up to a full-body experience with ease, and while some might balk at the price difference between platforms, Kinect owners hungry for something, anything of quality will find plenty of curiously cathartic, fruit-annihilating fun for their $10 here.

The idea is simple, and, admittedly, kind of stupid, which is OK, since it’s just a silly contrivance for the underlying mechanics. Pieces of whole fruit--watermelons, apples, bananas, kiwis, pears, strawberries, oranges, lemons, limes, coconuts...wait, are coconuts really fruit?--are lobbed up from the bottom of the screen, and you perform strong, decisive swiping motions across them to slice them in half, ninja-style, before they’re reclaimed by gravity’s clutches. The game encourages economy of movement by awarding bonus multipliers for slicing multiple pieces of fruit with a single swipe, and depending on which mode you’re playing, you’ll also have to avoid score-penalizing or game-ending bombs that get tossed up along with the rest of the fruit salad, or go after bonus fruit that can slow down time, multiply your score, or turn the whole screen into a fruit frenzy for a limited time.

Fruit Ninja Kinect gives you a point of reference for where, exactly, you need to be swinging your arms around like lunatic being attacked by invisible assailants by casting your silhouette on the screen. Whether or not you’ve played Fruit Ninja on a touchscreen before, it takes some getting used to on Kinect, as it favors quick, forceful movements, and in my experience, it can be touchy about players being either too close to and too far from the Kinect. Really excelling at Fruit Ninja Kinect requires enough coordination to use both hands, though flashy, limber players can make use of their feet as well. I’ll admit, I found Fruit Ninja novel on my iPhone, and there’s something to be said for the increase in scale when playing it on the iPad, but going from using your fingertip to using your whole body in Fruit Ninja Kinect ups the level of engagement by an order of magnitude. Unlike other Kinect titles, the control feels relatively sharp and precise--just like a ninja should, fruit or otherwise.

Three modes make up the game’s single-player experience. Classic mode starts slow and slowly cranks up the number of pieces of fruit tossed up at once, with a three-strike system for fruit that’s allowed to fall off the screen un-sliced, plus game-ending bombs to keep you on your toes. Arcade mode does away with the three-strikes model, and replaces the nihilistic bombs with less-punishing bombs that just penalize your score, instead using a time limit to throttle your score, and introduces the bonus fruit to help you juice it up. Every Arcade session also ends with a pomegranate that, if sliced, causes everything to go super-slo-mo, giving you the opportunity to goose your score by rapidly and repeatedly slicing the fruit as fast as you can. It’s no coincidence that this is both the most physically exhausting and satisfying moments that Fruit Ninja Kinect has to offer, though that's not to say that the rest of the game won't make you break a sweat on its own. Zen mode uses a similar time limit, though does away with the bombs and the bonus fruit. Assuming you’ve got space in your living room, you can play local cooperate and competitive two-player modes as well. As you rack up more fruit executions, you unlock new, optional visual effects for your swiping motions, your silhouette, and the game’s background wallpaper.

Each of these modes is self-contained, in that once you finish a session, which usually lasts just a couple of minutes or less, your options are either to retry the mode you’re in, or hop back to the main menu and pursue another mode. There’s no fixed progression within any of the modes, though that’s a gap filled well by the game’s Challenge mode, which turns your friends leaderboard into a competition. If none of your friends are playing Fruit Ninja Kinect, the Challenge mode is admittedly kind of useless. If you do, though, it does a terrific job of incentivizing incrementally improving your score. Since you often have to beat the score of the player just above you on the leaderboard, success in small steps is easily obtained.

When you’re in the game, the simple motion of swiping your limbs through the air is generally quite responsive, though, as can be the case with Kinect games, it can be a little fussy about the calibration. In my experience, the only area where the swipe-based controls are consistently too touchy is in the menus, where it’s easy to accidentally select the wrong menu option with idle gesticulations.

While the stereotypical karate dojo sound effects can come off as a little canned and cheesy, the squishy splats when you successfully slice a piece of fruit add to the game’s inherent satisfaction, particularly when paired with the accompanying juicy splatters against the background.

More than just a simple proof of concept, Fruit Ninja Kinect is a competent debut for Kinect games on Xbox Live Arcade, and it’s such a good fit that I have a hard time believing it will be outdone anytime soon. Kinect owners who understand the strengths and weaknesses of the hardware shouldn’t hesitate to pick up this fun, spazzy title.

73 Comments
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Posted by The_Interrupter

Well, alright then.

Posted by Vitor

Pleasantly surprised by this - looks like a great diversion and, as it comes free with Gunstringer, I might totally pick it up.

Posted by PatVB

I wouldn't have believed this review last week, but after seeing the Quick Look and Happy Hour, this actually looks really fun!

Posted by RE_Player1

It is a pretty good game. Got it on my iPad for $1 and love it.

Posted by Ozone

It did look like you had legitimate fun when playing with it on the Happy Hour. I'm tempted to pick this up, but will wait for Gunstringer's release to get my hands on it.

Posted by mrangryface

@RE_Player92: Cool! Is there some way to hook my ipad up to my kinec...oh wait a second hahaha.

It's price for ipad is irrelevant to kinect owners- it isnt even the same play experience.

Posted by Juicebox

Summer of arcade has been getting some inflated reviews lately ....

Posted by Scheds

Looked like so much fun on the Happy Hour! Makes me wish I had a Kinect at my disposal.

Posted by csl316

Despite the fact that seeing this in the Summer of Arcade line up gave me a reaction of "it looks dumb as hell," it honestly looks pretty fun in small doses.

Too bad I don't own or plan to buy a Kinect anytime soon.

Posted by Slaker117

Kind of surprised that there is even this much to say about Fruit Ninja, but hey. Good that it's good.

Posted by emem

Nice review, but still no reason to buy a 360 + Kinect.

I think I'll wait for Sony's MovePlus/MoveAdvanced/ReaLMove/Move4Real/MoveIT.. whatever it'll be called. Or maybe the next Xbox with a Kinect+.

Posted by Godlyawesomeguy

Glad the Kinect has another worthwhile game for purchase because it has been pretty lackluster up to this point.

Posted by Sticks

Still not worth 10 buckaroos. Nice they added new features at least

Posted by mrangryface

IMO Child of Eden is the best game ive played for Kinect. Dance Central is too embarassing- making me do those girl moves; wtffffff

Posted by Mystyr_E

so let me guess....Toy Soldiers is getting a 4, too? surprised even this thing got a 4

Posted by Marokai

"Kinect's strengths" being incredibly simplistic games that can't possibly amount of anything that appeals to people looking for a serious experience with it.

Online
Posted by BaconGames

@Marokai said:

"Kinect's strengths" being incredibly simplistic games that can't possibly amount of anything that appeals to people looking for a serious experience with it.

If you're looking for a serious experience then Child of Eden fits the bill I think. In general though game that rely on Kinect aren't very deep or compelling for long periods of time.

Online
Posted by mrangryface

Release a game for Kinect = "ALLS U DO IS WAVE ARMS"

Dont release a game for Kinect = "WHY DONT U SUPPORT KINECT! LOL BOMBA"

Posted by Claude

Kinect is slowly growing. Slowly.

Posted by mrsmiley

I played this game at E3 at absolutely loved it. I finally have a reason to dust off my connect.

Posted by Xsheps

Just when I put my xbox away, now I kind of  want a kinect.

Posted by Vinny_Says

wow, I guess this isn't the Castlevania HD of XBLA SOA 2011?!
 
I understand what the product is and what it's place in the market is, but I thought that even for a wacky kinect title it would suck like most other games. This is a pleasant surprise.
I'm still waiting for Forza 4 to sell me on Kinect though....

Posted by StoffInator

4 out of 5? Really? Has hell froze over?

Posted by Gravywilde

Watching you guys flail about was enough for me.

Posted by NathHaw

...and once again:

Edited by queenulhu

I'm just glad that they've given up the greater evil (apple) for a moment.  Hopefully they won't go back!

Posted by Cyrisaurus

How does this game even deserve a review?

Posted by Jdaman

If they do Fruit Ninja, might as well talk to the buddies at Epic to do Infinity Blade Kinect.  It was designed initially for Kinect, might as well bring it home.

Posted by Thor_Molecules

Fruit ninja is still a great game, regardless whether it's on the iPhone, iPad, or in this case, Xbox Kinect. 
Great review, Ryan!

Posted by Sooty

So I'm the only one that got bored of this within 10 minutes?
 
...4 stars, I don't even. :(

Posted by onan

@Jdaman said:

If they do Fruit Ninja, might as well talk to the buddies at Epic to do Infinity Blade Kinect. It was designed initially for Kinect, might as well bring it home.

YES. This.

I've got Fruit Ninja on my iPod. I get this is about the experience, but I can get that from the demo. I can experience flailing my arms around for a few minutes, and then get bored, and then maybe come back and do it again. The only thing I'm lacking is stat tracking by not buying it, right? How is it still worth $10?

Posted by Swoxx
Posted by HalfDane1975

It looked allright on the quick look. But Ryan 4 stars for punching fruit ??? I think you just made alot of ambitious gamedevs cry...

Posted by mnzy
@Cyrisaurus said:
How does this game even deserve a review?
Because it's a game.
And a popular one at that.
Posted by Vexxan

4 stars? How about that...

Posted by kalmis

4 stars?

Posted by SuperSambo

I only bought this to get Crimson Alliance, but its good to know that it isn't terrible.

Posted by Grognard66

Hopefully, this will sell well and other iOS devs will port games to Kinect/XBLA that make sense (Infinity Blade maybe?).
Posted by sirdesmond

Pretty excited about this game actually. I have always thought it would be a good fit for the Kinect. I'm just glad to see that it looks polished and is fun, rather than frustrating, to play.

Posted by ProfessorEss
@onan said:

@Jdaman said:

If they do Fruit Ninja, might as well talk to the buddies at Epic to do Infinity Blade Kinect. It was designed initially for Kinect, might as well bring it home.

YES. This.

I've got Fruit Ninja on my iPod. I get this is about the experience, but I can get that from the demo. I can experience flailing my arms around for a few minutes, and then get bored, and then maybe come back and do it again. The only thing I'm lacking is stat tracking by not buying it, right? How is it still worth $10?

Double yes. There aren't many games that I'd say this about but Infinity Blade would be tits on Kinect (I'm guessing that's what that Ryse game is going to be like).
Posted by CharlesAlanRatliff

Been interested in this since the Happy Hour. Will be purchasing it today!

Posted by AssInAss

Simplistic, well-executed, and for $10. Yeah, I can see why it got 4 stars. 
 
Can we bring voice-controlled Facade to Kinect? I think it'd be perfect, relationship sim that you can show to a larger audience.  

Posted by Slaker117
@Swoxx said:

OMG so what you're saying is that this game is as good as Halo reach!?? fuck you!!

No, I think what they're trying to say is that it's twice as good as Catherine.
Posted by Shuborno

Looks like they pulled off exactly what they needed to with this game.

I was thinking of waiting until Gunstringer for this but I might just pass on Gunstringer and buy Fruit Ninja now.

Posted by mrangryface

Played it this morning, fun and requires skill/timing. To those who are complaining but don't own a Kinect- wtf. To those that own a Kinect and are complaining... Why did you buy a Kinect?

Posted by skrutop

I should get the Move kit. Wonder if it's on sale anywhere?

Posted by MisterMouse

I think I would rather play the mobile version... but that is just me.

Posted by chilibean_3

@Slaker117: :D

Looks fun. It's kind of sad that this is one of the few Kinect games worth playing but that's not the fault of the developers.

Posted by Gordo789
@mrangryface said:
Played it this morning, fun and requires skill/timing. To those who are complaining but don't own a Kinect- wtf. To those that own a Kinect and are complaining... Why did you buy a Kinect?
my guess about why people who own a connect are complaining is because they own a kinect.
Posted by nasie

i'ts still 10 times the original handheld price, seems like really poor value to me.

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