If you're like me, your Kinect is probably collecting dust while you wait for new games to be released for it. Well, I'm happy to report that for just 800 Microsoft Points, you can download the Xbox LIVE Arcade game Fruit Ninja Kinect and finally have some more fun with that peripheral!
If you've ever played Fruit Ninja on your phone, then you're already familiar with the game, because it's exactly the same, except instead of swiping your finger on a touch screen, you flail your arms around like an actual ninja. Well, a fruit ninja, anyway. (The slicing gameplay extends all the way to the menu. Instead of holding your hand over a button and waiting for it to activate, you just slash it!) If you haven't played the game before, basically, various fruits are catapulted across the screen, and you wave your arms to slash them in half to gain points. Multiple fruits in a combo will net you even more points, and special fruits offer up other bonuses. Earn a high score, Achievements, Avatar awards, and leaderboard bragging rights.
There are three main gameplay modes: Classic, Arcade and Zen. Classic is the standard game, where you have to slash fruit for as long as you can until you either hit a bomb by accident, or let three pieces of fruit fall to the ground still whole. Arcade gives you a 60 second time limit, and throws power-up fruits into the mix that can slow down time, give double points, or create a frenzy of fruit flying across the screen. (And combinations of those bonuses can really rack up the points!) Just watch out for the bombs, because they won't end your game immediately, but they will knock 10 points off your total score! Zen mode lets you play for 90 seconds without having to worry about pesky bombs at all, which is nice. I just wish it would last longer! At the end of Arcade or Classic, a pomegranate freezes at the center of the screen, and you slash at it as frenetically as possible because however many slashes you can deliver are added to your score. And after that, a few more bonuses are added depending on how you played.
A separate Challenge mode combines the three single-player modes to offer you a goal that must be beaten to proceed. And I don't know if it's just me or what, but sometimes they're incredibly difficult! On the plus side, they seem to be randomly generated, so if a challenge proves too difficult for you, swapping to another mode and going back, you'll be presented with a new challenge.
There's also two-player, which you can play in either co-op or competitive modes. Co-op has both of you sharing the same screen, teaming up to slash all the fruit together that you can manage. In competitive mode, the screen is split down the middle, and half the fruit is outlined in blue, the other in red. Slashing your opponent's fruit will cause you to lose points, so be careful how you flail around. There is white-outlined fruit, though, which is worth extra points and can be sliced by either player. Surprisingly, I experienced no injuries while playing two-player Fruit Ninja Kinect, and at E3, the Halfbrick employee demoing it with me insisted that nobody had been hurt during the convention. You'd think with two people flailing around like lunatics that someone would lose an eye, but honestly? It's not that bad!
Graphics are simple, but effective. The fruit looks good, and briefly leaves a smear of guts and juice on the wall in the background after being sliced open. Your on-screen shadow is a helpful aid in aiming your slashes, but honestly, it's mostly unconscious, because the controls work really well. At no point did I ever feel like I was slashing at fruit that wasn't being sliced open. The backgrounds are swappable, as you unlock them through playing the game. You can also unlock different blades and shadows. There's a pixel shadow that's probably the niftiest of the bunch. The knives run the gamut from plain colors to piano ones that make music and leave a trail of keys as you swipe across the screen. All the unlockables have different requirements, so while most can be opened up through regular play, some have very specific goals that must be met, and they can be tricky.
Basically, Fruit Ninja is a freakishly addictive game, and Fruit Ninja Kinect is no different. You just play it differently. Which is where the only major complaint I have with the game comes in. You will be sore after extended play sessions. And with this kind of "one more try" gameplay as you attempt to beat your own scores (or your friends' on the leaderboard), play sessions will be extended. Other than the physical strain of actually playing the game, my only complaints are minor. The "back" button is all the way on the bottom right corner of the screen, so you kind of have to lean all the way over to activate it, and often I'll accidentally hit "retry" right next to it instead. Also, because the fruit and power-ups are random, sometimes beating challenges in Arcade mode can be extra hard. If you don't get the right power-ups at the right time, your score won't be high enough.
But overall, Fruit Ninja Kinect is an absolute blast, and if you're a Kinect owner starved for games, I highly recommend downloading it as soon as possible. It's just as addictive as the mobile phone game, and with the added bonus of giving you arms of steel by playing it!
A copy of Fruit Ninja Kinect was provided by Halfbrick for the purposes of this review. All game modes were played, and most of the unlockables were unlocked.