Fruit Ninja Kinect: a different kind of hack-and-slash

September 17, 2011

Fruit Ninja, the fruit-slicing game from Halfbrick Studios, has been available for most mobile platforms before now hitting the Kinect. With more than 20 million downloads, it’s clear that the simple-yet-addictive gameplay is a perfect fit for the touch screen smartphones of today, but how well does this game transition over to a motion-sensing console experience?

Like the mobile version of the game, Fruit Ninja Kinect is based around the idea of slicing fruit with a blade. Classic, Zen, and Arcade modes are included and function largely like they do on your mobile device. In Classic, you earn points slicing fruit for as long as possible. The game ends when you slice a bomb or after you miss three fruit. Zen is a 90 second game without any bombs, where you attempt to score as many points as possible. Arcade gives you a minute to slice as many fruit as possible, with bombs deducting 10 points. The Kinect version of the game also features a Party Mode which is essentially either head-to-head or co-op play.

The big challenge for a game transitioning from touch screen to Kinect is the idea of tracking user movement while also letting the player know where they are in relation to the digital objects. Fruit Ninja Kinect does this beautifully, with a silhouette of each player appearing in the background with hand, and foot, motions triggering the blade slices. What doesn’t work as well as it should is actually triggering a slice. Occasionally a deliberate motion wouldn’t register at all, and other very minute movements would register and usually make contact with a bomb. This gets very frustrating. Two-player gameplay is also plagued by players slicing right into each other, resulting in bruised arms. Navigating menus results in the same level of frustration, as the Kinect sensor is reading the wrong hand or not interpreting a motion as a slice when it should.

As a whole, Fruit Ninja Kinect is a real blast to play in short bursts. As an adult, the idea of flailing around swiping at fruit got exhausting and un-enjoyable after a few rounds. My kids, on the other hand, can sit there for an hour slicing and dicing virtual fruit. Drawbacks aside, Halfbrick set the bar very high for Kinect ports and came up with a simple-but-ingenious way to handle the user interaction.

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.

{ 5 comments }

Corvak September 17, 2011 at 1:16 pm

You hit on what everyone being overly critical of Kinect always seems to miss. That it’s great for kids.

When Microsoft was developing for Kinect, they realized they were missing the kids market, which is understandably dominated by Nintendo (Much to the dismay of all of us core gamers, who don’t really want Nintendo shielding us from the evils of the Internet). Everyone knows the 360 as the “shooter system”, and it gets associated with M rated games frequently. The Wii is a little kid, the 360 is a trash talking teenager, and the PS3 is the more mature college student. And console manufacturers put these labels on themselves, with marketing. All of them want to appeal to everyone, and none of them seem to be able to do it.

I think Kinect adds something for kids perfectly, and fills the hole with something unique. At E3, between all the superficial kinect functions being shoehorned into games – the Sesame Street game stood out, because it’s a wonderful concept for a kids game. Kinect games force adults out of their comfort zones, and typically adults and move controls only tend to really fit together in a party setting.

Chris Rasco September 20, 2011 at 8:45 am

Most gamers fail to realize that not every game was built for them and their demographic. As an adult, it’s pretty obvious that most of these motion sensing games are not made for me. :)

Graham Russell September 20, 2011 at 9:08 am

I disagree, Chris! Clearly Kinectimals With Bears! is directed at you specifically.

Lithilk September 19, 2011 at 5:39 am

What happened to the forum!? How long has the site been like this? :(

Chris Rasco September 20, 2011 at 7:27 am

Hey Lithilk, Cone here. We actually made the move to Wordpress back in June sometime. The custom CMS we had before worked, but there was a ton of manual work that I had to do for content to go up and frankly I was getting in the way. Things are running a lot more smooth from an editorial standpoint now.

As for the forums, I evaluated the volume of posts (read, virtually none) and decided that social media has essentially killed off most small forums, ours included. In the end, I archived the forum and took it offline.

I’m glad to see you back around here though.