Fruit Ninja Kinect (Video Game Review)

My arms are sore.  Really really sore.  Go ahead and make your jokes, but I have a damned good reason for it this time:  I’m woefully out of shape.

Also – Fruit Ninja Kinect.

Like many of you reading this, I have a terribly bad habit of being an early adopter.  I picked up Kinect when it launched last fall, and with the exception of my brief Dance Central love affair, the device has sat largely untouched.  I had to wipe about an inch of dust off the sensor before firing it up for Fruit Ninja, but I’m glad I did.

Fruit Ninja Kinect is the first truly killer app for Microsoft’s Kinect.  Sure there have been the occasional worthwhile releases (I’ll say it again – Dance Central), but for the most part, the Kinect has suffered from the same lack of must-have software as the PlayStation Move or the 3DS.  Let’s face it – this last year hasn’t been the best for new gadgets.  Luckily for Microsoft, Fruit Ninja Kinect changes all that.

Essentially a straight-up port of the popular mobile game by Halfbrick Studios, Fruit Ninja Kinect will have players attempting to slice up fruit to rack up a high score.  The obvious difference between this version and its predecessor, however, is that instead of gently swiping with your finger you’ll be flailing your arms around like they’re the legs of a QWOP victim.

And my arms are really really sore.

Like the portable version, Fruit Ninja Kinect offers a few different modes and tons of unlockables to work towards. The original mode, dubbed “Classic,” will have you trying to slice as much fruit as you can before you miss 3 or accidentally slice a bomb.  While the mechanics are the same as on the iPhone, the experience is much more challenging when you’re using your whole body.  It’s easier to miss fruit, and avoiding bombs when making huge sweeping motions with your arms can really take some getting used to.  Still – it’s never frustrating in that “this game is brokenzzorz!!” sense.  It’s more of an “I won’t let this game beat me!,” which in my opinion is always a good thing.

Still – playing in the one minute Arcade mode is a little more forgiving, and definitely a better place to hone your skills/have fun.  In Arcade there are plenty of power ups and wacky twists, so while you may enjoy the challenge of Classic, the sheer fun of Arcade will no doubt keep you in its clutches for a fairly long time.

The game also features a multiplayer Party Mode where two gamers can either work together or square off, but for some reason we had trouble getting this mode to work consistently.  Multiplayer in other Kinect games works fine, but for some reason Fruit Ninja kept trying to recalibrate the Kinect whenever we had two people standing next to each other.  This didn’t happen too much with adults, but when small children were playing, getting a two-player game going simply wasn’t going to work.

Still – with the one minute Arcade option and limited floor space, the game was plenty of fun just taking turns in single player.

As you complete challenges, you’ll be able to unlock new backgrounds and blades – again, like in the mobile version.  But Fruit Ninja Kinect has one more trick up its sleeve for unlockables: shadows.

Since players are represented on the screen by their shadow, unlocking new ones can add to the game’s appeal.  For example, in our game, we’ve already ditched the natural shadow for a pixelated one that looks pretty badass.

Kinect games should be simple, quick, and cheap by their very nature – but until now, none of them have been.  Xbox Live Arcade is where Kinect games could really be given a chance to shine. Now that Fruit Ninja Kinect has kicked off Microsoft’s “Kinect Arcade” branding, maybe they’ll do just that.

Your own lack of grace may take some getting used to, but if you’re a fan of the mobile game, you already know how much sense this release makes.  Time to dust off the Kinect, early adopters: this one’s a must buy.

Jim Squires

5 comments

Killer app? Really?

…really?

Ok, this is the first time that I’ve ever actually wanted an XBox. I only just played Fruit Ninja for the first time a few weeks ago, but it’s pretty addicting!

Thanks Jim,

I was debating, but if there is one opinion I “usually” can trust, it’s you man. I’ll be grabbing this when I get some more MS points. Like you I’ve had the Kinect since launch, but I play it at least once a week (usually new demos or something I’ve rented) Child of Eden is beautiful, but just too short even with the replay value it’s too short. Any thoughts on the Zombie Kinect game? It looks interesting.

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