The basic gameplay element for Fruit Ninja is simple: slice all the fruit on the screen while avoiding bombs. When the game starts, different varieties of fruit will fly up from the bottom of the screen. The player will use their fingers to swipe across the screen and slice as many pieces of fruit that they can in one swipe. The player can swipe up to 5 fingers at once if need be. There are different blades and backgrounds that can be unlocked when certain milestones are achieved.
In Classic Mode the player is faced with the task of not just slicing fruit, but also avoiding bombs. Throughout the mode bombs will randomly join a group of fruit, and if the player slices a bomb, it's game over! Also, if the player allows three pieces of fruit to fall without being sliced, the game will end. The score is based on how many fruit you sliced, plus bonus points for combos and critical hits. Also, the player can gain back fallen fruit chances for every one-hundred points they gain.
Zen Mode is a slightly less stressful version of Classic Mode. There are no bombs and no limit on how many fruit the player can drop; however, the game is timed at 90 seconds. Zen mode encourages players to play for combos to increase their overall score as compared to simply just slicing fruit with no pattern. It is a great mode for beginners to get the feel for the game without the stress of failing.
With the 1.4 update, Halfbrick added the ability to play online multiplayer games through Apple's Gamecenter. You can play with a friend or a complete stranger. In Fruit Ninja’s multiplayer mode, a series of fruits are tossed up like in a normal game, but the fruit either have a red, white, or blue border. The blue fruit are your fruit and you gain points for slicing them. The red fruit are your opponent's and must be avoided. If red fruit is sliced, points will be deducted from your score. The white fruit are for both players. The player that slices the white fruit first will get extra points added to their score. Multiplayer rounds last for one minute. The player with the highest score at the end wins.
In Arcade Mode players have 60 seconds to get the highest score possible. This game mode features bombs and three powerups that take the place of bananas as well as a bonus score awarded at the end of the round. The double points banana will award you double points for a short period of time. The frenzy banana causes tons of fruit to fly in from the side of the screen, no bombs are thrown up for the duration of the powerup. The freeze banana stops the timer and slows down the entire screen allowing for easier combos.
Like most iPhone games, Fruit Ninja has achievements. These achievements are supported by Apple's Game Center and by Openfeint.
The Achievements are as follows:
- Fruit Ninja - Get a score of 50 in classic mode
- Great Fruit Ninja - Get a score of 100 in classic mode
- Ultimate Fruit Ninja- Get a score of 200 in classic mode
- Fruit Fight - Killed 150 fruit total
- Fruit Blitz - Killed 500 fruit total
- Fruit Rampage - Killed 1,000 fruit total
- Fruit Rampage - Killed 5,000 fruit total
- Fruit Annihilation - Killed 10,000 fruit total
- Go Banana - Killed 10 bananas in on round of classic mode
- No Doctors Here - Killed 15 apples in one round of classic mode
- Purple is a Fruit - Killed 20 plums in one round of classic mode
- Lucky Ninja - Get 6 critical hits in one round of classic mode
- It's all Pear Shaped! - Killed 3 Pears in a row in classic mode
- Mango Magic - Got a critical hit with a mango
- Deja Vu - Killed 4 of the same type of fruit in a row in classic mode
- Are you kidding me? - Failed with the same score as your personal best
- Wake up - Failed with a score of 0
- Tee Hee Hee - Failed with a score of 69
- Almost a Century - Failed with a score of 99
- Combo Mambo - Sliced 6 fruit in one combo
- Moment of Zen - Achieved a score of 200 in zen mode
- Patience is a Virtue - Sliced 10 "Coming Soon" fruits
- Year of the Dragon - Sliced the secret fruit (This is a rare fruit that comes from the side of the screen and gives the player 50 points)
- Lovely Bunch - Get the Lovely Bunch star in zen mode (A Lovely Bunch is a combo with just coconuts)
- Over Achiever - Get a score over 400 after all bonuses in Arcade Mode
- Under Achiever - Ger a score less than 20 after all bonuses in Arcade Mode
- Hit three bombs and scored over 250 after all bonuses in Arcade Mode