Fruit Ninja Kinect Review: I’m A Fruity Ninja

So let’s face it: you’ve always wanted to be a ninja. Perhaps you’ve sunken hours upon hours into watching reruns of Naruto in order to perfect the art of turning into a log. Maybe you’ve honed your skills by playing variations of the Ninja Slap Game and have dominated your weaker, less agile friends. You’ve gone and filled out applications for ninja positions, but your lack of the necessary tools and a lord in which to swear your fealty has always held you back. Fear not, would-be denizen of the shadows: Fruit Ninja Kinect is here to fill the void!

Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Halfbrick Studios
Genre: Tricep Soreness Measurement App
Release Date: August 10, 2011
ESRB Rating: Everyone

Once only available on mobile devices, Fruit Ninja‘s console debut on the XBLA opens up new avenues of gameplay, allowing players to use their arms and legs to destroy helpless fruit. Thoughts of worldwide virtual food shortages aside, it’s a game that’s a lot of fun in short bursts and will absolutely drench you in sweat if not played in moderation. It is a downloadable title that blends addictive gameplay with a motion peripheral to create a smoothie that tastes of badassery and perspiration. Wait… eww.

The graphics are what you would expect from an XBLA game; they’re crisp, clean, colorful, but ultimately not too mind-blowing. Since this title is mostly about the gameplay, the graphics take a backseat. But there are some cool touches in Fruit Ninja Kinect that add some flair to what might be an already familiar game, like the inclusion of your shadow in the background. This graphical representation allows you to track your movements in real time. It’s really awesome to watch yourself appear in a cloud of smoke and then pull some weird poses before the fruit-slicing mayhem ensues. It’s even cooler to go offscreen and disappear into a puff of smoke. Oh yeah, baby. You’re a ninja now.

There is very little in the way of sound for this game. Music is only present when you’re in the menu, leaving you to slice away in silent bliss during gameplay. I found the lack of background music to be appropriate, seeing as how ninjas are supposed to be silent. I mean, you wouldn’t want that pomegranate to know you were sneaking up on it because it heard your badass dubstep theme song, right? The only sounds that pervade the air are the pops that indicate fruit being launched, squishes, and whatever sound your blade makes. I always opt for the flame blade because it makes me feel like a firebender, prompting me to flail my arms around like a moron even when there’s nothing onscreen.

The game modes are identical to the mobile versions, but also allow you to play cooperatively or competitively with a friend, an enemy, or a frenemy. Whatever relationship configuration you use, someone’s bound to get hit in the face by a stray hand. It’s a little disappointing that you can’t play online against other ninja wannabes, but I’d rather hit my friends in the face anyway. There’s a timed Arcade mode that tests your skills by only giving you three lives. If you hit three bombs, it’s game over. Choosing Zen mode gets rid of the lives and lets you annihilate as many bananas, watermelons, and apples as you can in 90 seconds. Challenge mode pits you against different point levels to beat, ultimately reducing you to tears for not getting 700 points. However you slice it, you’re going to get a bit of a workout.

Surprisingly, the Kinect’s motion tracking was very accurate. The slices are based on the speed of your movements, so don’t think you can just point a finger at each fruit and make them explode to get crazy combo multipliers. You’re supposed to be a ninja, not a Norse god. You don’t have to have the hand speed of a Wing Chun grandmaster as long as you use relatively broad slicing motions. But there’s also a downside to this awesome tracking though, as the Kinect will also sense the slightest of swinging motions. There have been times when I found myself stretching after a torturously fun round. After letting my hands fall back down to my sides, I’d inadvertently slice through the “Continue” option that pops up. These moments would be when my arms fall off from the fear of attempting to beat 700 points again.

Fruit Ninja Kinect is a sweet game that’s made even sweeter when you play with others. I personally enjoy the game a lot, but because of the physical nature of the gameplay, I don’t see it as a title that you’d play for more than a few minutes a day. At a $10 price point, you’ll have to decide just how much you want to drive yourself into a limb-swinging frenzy and if the imminent sore muscles are worth the price of admission. If you’re OK with sweating it out, why not add an extra level of challenge to the game and wear wrist and ankle weights? A few weeks or so of playing like that and you’ll be a pro. If anyone is still unconvinced of your ninja skills, play them in a competitive round of Fruit Ninja Kinect. Lose on purpose and sullenly ask for another round. Watch them gloat before they agree to kick your butt again.

And then take the weights off.

Review Disclosure: A retail copy of Fruit Ninja Kinect was purchased by Warp Zoned for the purposes of this review.

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