I admit that I feel a little odd writing about Fruit Ninja Kinect. After all, there are probably not that many gamers out there who haven’t played of or at least heard about the franchise. It’s available now on practically every mobile device known to mankind. Considering its roots and how much I enjoyed it, though, I feel compelled to do a quick write-up.
If you’re not familiar with the basic concept of the Fruit Ninja series, you’re given a static 2D background that a bunch of fruit is launched into. You must chop through the fruit while avoiding chopping the occasional bomb that appears. Slicing through fruit earns you points, while bombs either end the game or deduct points depending on which version you’re playing – the Kinect version is the latter. You earn bonus points by slicing through multiple fruit with one swipe or by scoring a critical hit. In the Kinect version, there are special bonus fruit that can either temporarily slow down time, throw extra fruit on the screen, or give you a bonus multiplier. A new fruit, the pomegranate, was added to the Kinect version. The pomegranate appears at the end of every round and remains on screen for a few seconds so that you can unleash one last flurry of strikes on it. It’s a fun little bonus that lets you cut loose and have fun.
The big appeal for the Kinect version is the fact that instead of swiping your finger across a touchscreen, you’re using your arms to swipe at the fruit. The game projects your body as a silhouette on the background so that you can tell where you are in relation to the fruit. Although there’s a minute amount of lag between your motions and the on-screen actions, this is one of the best implementations of motion tracking I’ve seen with a Kinect game. Not once did I get frustrated by glitches where the camera would lose my position or fail to register a swipe. The closest thing I found to an actual issue was when one person would walk off-screen after a round. The camera would occasionally pick up on their movement as a swipe and activate a menu option to purchase the full game. Note that you actually have to confirm the purchase before it would happen. Aside from that, it was a seamless experience.
I did not see an option for multiplayer during the trial which was one of the bigger marketing points. I’m interested to see how well the game plays with two people. The fruits are color-coded indicating which player gets points for slicing which fruit. I’m curious to see how well it would work having two people swinging their arms around within a close vicinity of each other. I have to wonder if there’ll be many Wii Tennis-like injuries. I also would like to see whether or not the Kinect has trouble picking up on which movements belong to which player.
I admit that I actually enjoyed the game far, far more than I thought I would. A lot of it I think has to do with a party atmosphere. It’s a lot of fun having everyone go up and take their to see who can get the best score, get the best bonuses, and get the most strikes on the pomegranate. I honestly don’t see myself playing this alone, though the inclusion of a Friends leaderboard on the main page might be enough incentive to keep me coming back. Even though it’s a much more involved experience thanks to Kinect, I also have a hard time justifying the $10 price tag associated with the full game. I can play it for far, far less on the mobile platforms. In the end, I’ll probably wait for Twisted Pixel’s The Gunstringer which comes out later this year and will include a voucher for Fruit Ninja Kinect. If you’ve yet to try the series on any other platform and own a Kinect, this might be the perfect version for you.
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