(As with all of my reviews, this was written by me for GamerEuphoria.com)
Fruit Ninja Kinect Review (Xbox360)
We’re over half way through this years Summer of Arcade lineup and the fourth title to land is Fruit Ninja Kinect. It’s a new title for the Xbox, but it’s not new for the fans. Fruit Ninja has been released on multiple platforms and has been met with such a great reception that it’s earned it’s very own release on the 360.
So how does it fare? Does it live up to the hype that the WP7 version has generated? Let’s find out.
The premise of the game is incredibly simple, so even if you have never played any of the aforementioned versions of the game, you’ll pick it up within thirty seconds. You are a Ninja. Fruit flies up onto the screen. You slice through said fruit – and that my friends, is pretty much it. Having said that, this is fruit slicing at its best, if there is such a thing. The game, is beautiful. The animations are incredibly crisp, the fruit looks fantastic and when they are sliced in half the interiors look just as they would in real life. Visually, the game is a pleasure to play. It’s aided by a few nice touches as well ; so you can keep track of yourself, instead of the usual “kinect tracker box” in the bottom right hand corner, your shadow is displayed prominently on the background. It fits in well, looks fantastic, and lets you know exactly where you are at all times.
Fruit Ninja Kinect not only holds up against these (Child of Eden, Kinect Sports) titles, it probably surpasses them in terms of controls and responsiveness.
Many people will be mainly concerned about one thing though, as with all Kinect games, how does the game control via Kinect? Well, let’s put it like this : I’ve owned Kinect since release, and I own all the “best” controlling/responsive games (Child of Eden, Kinect Sports etc) ; and Fruit Ninja Kinect not only holds up against these titles, it probably surpasses them in terms of controls and responsiveness. I thought Child of Eden was as good as it would get for Kinect, but I was wrong – when playing the game the sensor tracks both hands perfectly (and it’s the only Kinect game that worked with the lights off for me). It was fluid and smooth, making the cutting of fruit incredibly simple. However, it’s a shame that the same amount of attention couldn’t be paid to the menus ; they’re fine if your slicing a fruit to select an option, but its a nightmare if you want to scroll up or down through any form of list or leaderboard.
The game itself is as simple as its premise. There are three core modes included, but unfortunately they are very similar with slight exceptions :
Arcade Mode – a time based mode where you have a minute to score as many points as possible. There are three kinds of powerups (Frenzy, Freeze and Double Points) to add a bit of variance to the game. There are bombs, which upon slicing lose you ten points. You are not punished for missing any fruit.
Zen Mode – As the name suggests, a state of calm. This is all about slicing the fruit for the points. It’s another time based mode where you are given 90 seconds to hit as high a score as possible. There are no powerups or bombs on this mode, and your not punished for missing any fruit.
Classic Mode – This is the original version of the game – instead of being time based like the other two modes, you’re given three lives, which can be lost upon missing a fruit. Bombs are back on this level, but instead of losing points if you hit one it’s game over.
The three different modes do offer a slight variation, but unfortunately not enough. Your still slicing fruit, the only difference is sometimes your aiming for powerups and sometimes your dodging bombs. Scores can be increased by hitting combos’ and blitzes, combos where you hit three or more fruits during one slice, and blitzes where you hit multiple combos in a row. Critical hits can also be landed from direct 50/50 slices to fruits gaining you a nice +10 score bonus. In all modes, mastering these techniques is key to hitting the higher scores. Out of the three modes, Arcade is definitely where the fun is at. It’s faster and more frantic than the other modes, and the powerups add a nice touch. There is also a challenge mode, which is basically integrating the leaderboards into the game itself – its showing you when your scores are beaten, and then you have to go win that score back.
The game does feature Xbox Live leaderboards, which are integrated brilliantly. They are tracked separately across all three game modes, weekly and all time scores, and friends or global lists. After the initial half hour of play has worn off, you’ll find yourself checking the leaderboards quite regularly, as it’s the only real incentive to go back into the game itself.
It looks brilliant, and the Kinect controls are wonderful. It’s just unfortunate that the depth isn’t there in the gameplay.
For the first time in the series Fruit Ninja boasts a co-op mode, and it works well. It can either be played competitively or co-operatively. In co-op, either you or your partner can slice any fruit you want, but playing against each other the fruits are highlighted red or blue, and you can only slice the fruit that corresponds to your assigned colour.
The game has a nice set of unlocks, which are granted to you upon completion of various tasks; for instance, slicing twenty bananas’ during freeze. The unlocks consist of either new blade animations or a new background, and once again the lack of depth is rearing its head. The new blade unlocks do nothing apart from change the tint of your sword, and the backgrounds, while cosmetically pleasing add nothing to the game. For the achievement hunters out there, I’m pleased to tell you that you do get a fairly easy 200g. If you’re good at the game, you could nail the whole 200g in a couple of hours. If your not great, it may take a little longer, but you’ll definitely get there.
Overall, the game is decent ; but once the novelty wears off, you may not feel the need to pick it up again. It looks brilliant, and the Kinect controls are wonderful. It’s just unfortunate that the depth isn’t there in the gameplay. It’s fun to play, but after twenty minutes it gets pretty boring – and I don’t want to be harsh here, I’ve had more fun playing Indie games. They may not look as crisp, or control as well, but surely these things are irrelevant when compared against the “fun factor” a game has?
At least I learnt something though – the Kiwi is considered the national fruit of China. I bet you didn’t know that either.