Itâ€™s been a busy 15 months for developer Halfbrick. Their vegetation hackâ€™nâ€™slash game first arrived on the scene in the form of an iPhone / iPod Touch game back in 2010. Since then itâ€™s been ported to the iPad, Android devices and Windows 7, and amassed over 20 million sales across all platforms as of March 2011. Now Halfbrick have taken Fruit Ninja to the Xbox 360 to take advantage of the new Kinect technology.
For those who havenâ€™t played Fruit Ninja, the gameplay concept is simple. Fruit of various shapes and sizes are thrown up on the screen and the player must slice them in half using various gestures. On the iPhone for example, a swipe of the finger chops through anything in its path like a samurai sword. With the Kinect camera, you must chop through the various fruity targets using your entire arms (and even your feet if youâ€™re crazy enough). As usual with the Kinect, the motion capture isnâ€™t perfect. But considering the speed of your movements, the hardware still does an admirable job of tracking your Ninja gymnastics.
Initially, Fruit Ninja Kinect is a frantic display of waving your arms around like a complete lunatic and is probably the equivalent of 20 laps doing the butterfly stroke in an Olympic-sized pool. But for more seasoned players, there is a method to maximising your score and preventing cardiac arrest mid-game. For example, bonus points are awarded for slicing multiple fruits conservatively with one slice, and combo slices reap big rewards. Occasionally, in-between the flurry of strawberries and watermelons, bombs are also thrown onto the screen and will result in a loss of life if accidentally struck. Quick reflexes and a sharp eye will separate those with true fruity kung-fu.
Fruit Ninja Kinect is broken down into three single-player modes: Classic, Zen, and Arcade. Classic mode, taken from the iOS version, is a non-stop fruit-chopping frenzy where the player must chop up every piece of fruit that appears while avoiding bombs. Missing three fruity targets results in an instant game-over. Zen mode, despite the name, is similar to Classic mode but ironically even more frantic. It removes the bombs but instead adds in a relentless count-down timer that will end your game when it reaches zero and only increase if you manage to keep the fruit segments flying. The Arcade mode mixes the two, using a timer and adding in bombs, but hitting bombs only costs points rather than an instant fail.
Truthfully, the three modes are all much of a muchness. However the Kinect version also introduces multiplayer to the Fruit Ninja experience. It features co-operative and competitive gameplay for two players using the Kinect camera. Players must either compete to tear up more fruit than their opponent, or work with a friend to double your limb power and plough through as much fleshy seed-associated structures as possible. Watching your mates go into a spastic ninja fury also makes this a great party game (as long as you bubble-wrap every item in the house first).
Fruit Ninja Kinect is available now for 800 Microsoft points, and for a reasonable 140MB file-size, is definitely a worthy download for those with a Kinect camera at the ready.