Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 Review

By Jonathan Barnes, 1 year ago
"Is that the game where you just flail your arms around?"

I just told my lovely, non-gaming wife about my latest review assignment of Fruit Ninja Kinect 2. As a game series clearly designed with casual gamer in mind, Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 essentially boils down to my wife's summation in terms of gameplay. You're going to be spending a lot of time flailing at fruit with modest degrees of success. Fortunately, this sequel to the 360 version (and winner of our 2011 Best Kinect Game) does contain some new wrinkles and game modes to keep those infatuated with camera gesticulation coming back for a bit more.

Title

Much like the original game, FNK2 tasks gamers with standing in front of their Kinect and using their arms to slice fruits that are lobbed up onto the screen while avoiding bombs. It's a simple mechanic that virtually everyone can understand and grasp. That being said, the essential question that every Kinect game boils down to is, "Does it work?" Holding FNK2 to this standard seems to be setting a low bar, but on this front the game passes easily. The Kinect is quick to scan in your figure and presents your body as a shadowy outline on the screen so that you can track your own movements as you attempt to flay the fruit. While the (occasional) demand for fine detail in some of the game modes does leave a little to be desired at times, I found no major issues with playing the game both seated and standing.

Festival fun for some!Festival fun for some!

FNK2 brings back the three modes that veterans of the 360 version will be familiar with: Classic (don't let the fruit fall, don't slice bombs), Arcade (set time limit with various bonus/power-up fruits thrown in), and Zen (set time limit but no disqualifications). In addition to the tried-and-true classics, FNK2 also throws in four "Festival Modes" that all have varying degrees of success in their concept and execution. "Katsuro's Ninja Dodge" challenges players by having them avoid shurikens that are thrown at their on-screen shadows, all while slicing fruit. "Mari's Strawberry Stealth" has players slicing fruit while avoiding a spotlight that moves around the screen. "Nobu's Bamboo Strike" tosses bamboo seeds into the fruit mix. Missing one of the seeds causes a small bamboo grove to grow up onto the screen, obscuring the view until the player can slice it down. Finally, "Han's Apple Range" puts targets on the screen and tasks the player with throwing knives to "pin fruit" to each target. The novelty of including a defensive mindset is a great twist on the game, but it's incredibly diluted in the fact that the "Katsuro's Ninja Dodge" and "Mari's Strawberry Stealth" use an identical gimmic; you're simply avoiding something on the screen while doing what you normally do. "Nobu's Bamboo Strike" is a nice twist on the game's standard mechanic and adds a small layer of depth to the gameplay. Where FNK2 really misses the mark, though, is with "Han's Apple Range". While the standard slicing and dicing of fruit always appears on the screen, when players move their arms the Apple Range plays differently, and not for the better. Instead of an arcing swing of the sword, players hands act as if they're throwing knives. This mechanic is incredibly frustrating in that you're not sure where the release point of your "throw" is with each swing of your arm. More often than not, I found myself attempting more a dart-throwing motion as opposed to a knife throwing motion in an attempt to get better accuracy. I wish I could say it was more effective, but it seemed just as spotty. The mechanic of the Apple Range is a novel idea that would have been a great addition to the gameplay, but instead feels sloppy.

While none of the game modes really differentiates from the others in any great way, the use of in-game missions helps spur players to explore all of the modes to level up. In any given game mode, the player has three different missions that ask them to do things like "Accumulate 2500 Points" or "Play 3 Games in a row with out slicing a bomb". Completing these missions gives you tokens that level up your ninja belt. Leveling up your ninja belt also unlocks "Swag" which includes everything from blades, backgrounds, and shadows, all of which are purchased with starfruit that is earned from playing games and slicing starfruit when they appear on screen.

Mission... POSSIBLEMission... POSSIBLE

FNK2 also features a multiplayer component. While a friend can quick join any of the single-player modes, there is also a dedicated multiplayer mode which features Party and Battle variants. Party mode accommodates up to four players while Battle mode puts two players head-to-head. Each of these modes takes aspects from all of the Festival and Standard gametypes and sloshes them together into a ragout that will throw various power-ups and penalties at players as they wildly gesticulate together to cut their own specific fruits. In the time I tested these modes with my wife, she gave them a tacit thumbs up and then demanded to play by herself for a bit because I was crowding her style.

On the achievement front, FNK2 has a really excellent list that is going to appeal to both casuals and completionists. There is a good mix of easy pops like Comeback which has you hit three bombs in an Arcade game but still score over 250 and Welcome to the Festival! which only tasks you with unlocking all four Festival modes. There are a few grindy achievements like hitting Ninja belt level 30 and slicing 10,000 fruit, but these can easily be grinded when going for the real tough achievements like slicing all propellers in a single game of Katsuro's Ninja Dodge. There are also a few luck based achievements like Feels like the lottery and All Bonused Out. The biggest hurdle are probably the achievements that will require a friend like, All for one and one for all!, Just like a mirror, and There ain't no party like a ninja party. As of this writing, there does not seem to be any unobtainables and (as with most Kinect games) some the ratios are REALLY high (the game currently sits at 3,833 TA).

Bring me my Hattori Hanzo!Bring me my Hattori Hanzo!


Summary

Let's get down to brass tacks, if you like Kinect games, you'll probably enjoy Fruit Ninja Kinect 2. It's simple, somewhat addictive, and contains some easy gamerscore that is sure to hold a decent ratio. On the opposite side, if you treat your Kinect like some sort of wizard boy to be kept under the stairs, there's nothing here to convince you otherwise. The addition of Festival Modes injects a little bit of variety to the gameplay, but are largely unremarkable. With a price point of $14.99 (or your regional equivalent) the game is a nice spot of family-friendly fun and a solid (if unspectacular) Kinect game.
3.5 / 5
Positives
  • Good showcase for Xbox One's Kinect
  • Fun for all ages and game skill levels
  • Great for parties
Negatives
  • Festival modes feel unremarkable
  • Tough completion
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent around seven hours honing his ninja skills on various fruits, trying all of the game modes, and unlocking 21 of the 30 achievements before ceding profile control over to the wife to pop a few. The copy of this game was provided by the developer for the purpose of this review.
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.