It’s been almost a year since Kinect launched and today marked the release of the very first Xbox Live Arcade Kinect title! And what a title it is: this is not some random unknown game, this is the immensely popular iphone and android game “Fruit Ninja” but now playable with Kinect! We got into our ninja suits as two members of the 123Kinect.com team dove in and tested Fruit Ninja Kinect. Here is what we think about it.

Destroy some fruit

For those that have never played Fruit Ninja on the mobile platform here is a quick summary of what the game is like: Fruit flies up and you have to slice it before it falls off-screen again. Slice it to get points, make combos to get extra points and get as many points before the time runs out. That’s it, simple but quite genius! This formula translates into a couple of game modes that all introduce slightly different elements to provide for an altered gameplay experience. In Classic Mode the game will end when you fail to mutilate three fruits and in addition bombs fly up that will end the game immediately when sliced. Then there is Zen Mode in which there are no bombs and there is a timer instead of the three misses that will end the game. And finally there is arcade mode in which there are powerups that will either freeze time, give you double points or increase the fruit-throughput considerably. With all this the game doesn’t deviate that much from the mobile version of the game but of course there is one major difference: it’s Kinect powered!

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Great accuracy is rewarded with great points!

The Kinect in Fruit Ninja Kinect

Fruit Ninja and Kinect are like a symbiosis, those two are made for each other! Forget that Fruit Ninja was originally made for the mobile platform to make full use of touch screens and swiping motions, Fruit Ninja belongs on Kinect! When you first start the game you will immediately feel comfortable with the controls: they are intuitive, responsive, accurate and fluid. Play the game a bit longer and you will really feel like a real ninja: swinging your arms in all directions trying to frantically slice the fruit before it falls of screen. The Kinect controls of the game not only make it more fun to play, but it also makes it far more challenging! This is not anymore about merely flicking your finger around, this is a full body workout! And if you are too slow or not so accurate with your movements you will not do well with this game. Kinect really enhances the fruit ninja formula, in every possible way!

Hit a friend

New in this version of Fruit Ninja is the multiplayer mode, or the “Hit a Friend” mode as it quickly became known among us. In this mode you will either cooperatively slice fruit (combining your score) or you will fight it out in an intense battle for the highest score. So why do we call it “Hit a Friend” mode? Well, because the play space in which you stand is probably quite limited and the motions you have to make with your arms are quite extreme. This makes it very likely that you will end up hitting each other, and while this might be a bit painful at first, it actually adds to the fun! Fruit Ninja Kinect is a great party game and the multiplayer mode is in my opinion the most fun this game has to offer.

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Multiplayer is really the star of this game

For short bursts of play

There are some small negatives about Fruit Ninja Kinect as well, just like the mobile version of the game it can get quite repetitive and while there are quite a few different modes all the gameplay is very similar. The game is fun, but only for a limited amount of time. Another thing that adds to this is the physical stress it puts on your arms: the first time I played it my arms got very sore after about 30 minutes and after an hour of play time my hands got all swollen from sweeping them around. Still, after some time of not playing it is still fun to pick up again, especially because there is quite a bit of stuff to unlock in the game (new swords and backgrounds).

The most awkward menu ever

Just as a final note I have to say that Fruit Ninja Kinect has a bit of an awkward menu. Just as with the mobile version menu items are depicted as fruits, and you have to slice them to select that menu item. The problem is here that you can’t “not” slice. On the iphone you can take your finger of the screen and move it to the right position to slice the fruit menu item you want, with Kinect you can’t do this! When you move your hand to the position in which you can slice your wanted menu item you might slice another fruit in the motion! The only way to get around it is by very slowly moving your hand to the right position, taking great care in not moving too fast so it would slice and then slice the wanted fruit. This gets even worse in the bits where you can scroll up and down: you scroll down by slicing down and scroll up by slicing up. In this case you’ll end up slicing down to scroll down a bit, but if you want to scroll down more you have to move your hand up again in order to be able to slice down, resulting in an upward slice and thus an upwards scroll. It’s awkward and it just doesn’t work.

Conclusion

Fruit Ninja Kinect is a great Kinect game and the Kinect controls work absolutely great. The game is fun to play and especially with the newly added multiplayer guarantees play sessions full of laughs and joy. While these play sessions will get a bit repetitive after a while there is tons to unlock which is a great incentive to return to the game. The menu control are a bit awkward but this doesn’t really inhibit the overall playing experience. If you have a Kinect you should definitely get this! If you can however wait a bit you might be interested to know that Fruit Ninja Kinect will be included for free with The Gunstringer (which will save you the 800 points of buying it separate). All in all: get it now, or get it with The Gunstringer, you will not be disappointed!

8/10

A copy of Fruit Ninja Kinect was provided by Microsoft for review.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Fruit Ninja Kinect
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