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Fruit Ninja Kinect

Score: 88%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Halfbrick
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Arcade

Graphics & Sound:

The Kinect has been selling slightly better than I expected it would, but if Microsoft wants to get more units into homes, they're going to have to find better, more interesting games to show off what the sensor can offer players. Although games like Kinect Adventures and Dance Central have been great ambassadors, they are still physically demanding, which might scare away some customers.

Add Fruit Ninja Kinect to the list of ambassadors. It is a very simple concept combined with motion-controlled gameplay that is slightly less taxing, but still showcases motion-based gaming.

There isn't a whole lot to Fruit Ninja Kinect in terms of presentation. Fruit flies across various backgrounds - which look like everything from wood walls to tiled backgrounds - and you slash at them with two flashy hand blades, sending juices splattering all over the screen. It is simple, yet incredibly effective.

If there are any problems with presentation, it is the menus. Although easy to understand, they are tightly packed. It isn't unusual to accidentally slash one option when you mean to choose another.


Gameplay:

Fruit Ninja Kinect is a very simple concept yielding incredibly fun gameplay. Similar to the mobile version, your sole goal is to slice through pieces of fruit as they fly across the screen. Single slices give you a few points, though you need to slice multiple objects at once to get a higher score. This is made harder by bombs, which are sometimes tossed in with the fruit, requiring a little patience and restraint rather than waving your arms around like a madman. You'll also come across power-ups, that either slow down time, launch more fruit or double your score.

The same gameplay carries through across all of Fruit Ninja Kinect's play modes: Arcade, Zen and Classic. Each mode adds a slightly different twist to the formula. For instance, Zen is a bomb-free slicing experience, while Classic lets you slice for as long as you want as long as you don't hit three bombs.

One of the few major bumps against Fruit Ninja Kinect is its length. It is unlikely you'll squeeze more than a few minutes of fun out of any play session. Similar to the mobile version, the game is fun in short bursts rather than long marathon sessions. Adding friends for co-op sessions extends the playtime and, in my opinion, is the preferred way to play. This is the sort of game where friends get together, act like fools and laugh it up.

If you're the competitive type, Fruit Ninja Kinect offers Leaderboards, allowing you to compare your scores with friends or players worldwide. There's also a slate of unlockable rewards, like new blade types and Avatar awards. New blades don't change gameplay other than giving you cool slashes on the screen, but they're a great motivator. Just seeing a locked award dangling in front of me was enough to keep me playing for a few more games.


Difficulty:

Fruit Ninja Kinect is a challenge. Although it is an incredibly easy game to understand, there's a certain required finesse if you want a higher slot on the Leaderboard (or that one, last reward just out of reach). When you first begin, it is incredibly tempting to start waving your arms around and slashing at fruit the minute it hits the screen. This works, but you'll end up missing fruit or hitting bombs. The key to success is to watch trajectories, figure out where different pieces of fruit will converge and choose your slices carefully.

Like every Kinect game, Fruit Ninja Kinect is a major workout. You're constantly swinging your arms, so depending on how in shape you are, you might find games harder the longer you play. The more you play, however, the better your endurance and accuracy.


Game Mechanics:

Fruit Ninja Kinect is probably one of the more finely calibrated Kinect games I've played. Of course, this is contingent on how closely you stand to the device, but I can't remember running into an issue where I knew I sliced something, but didn't receive any feedback from the game. In fact, at times they felt a little too well calibrated -- such as my previously mentioned menu troubles. Even when snaking my hand around certain icons, I would sometimes make enough of slicing motion I would accidently activate another menu item. I eventually learned to "guide" my shadowy figure through areas, but there are slight accessibility issues if you're the type to blaze through menus without a thought.

Again, most control issues are related to finding the right spot in relation to your Kinect. Playing solo, you want to get close enough that your shadow covers most of the screen, while during two-player games, you want enough room for each person. I have a small play area, so the two-player setup was a bit of an undertaking, though I was eventually able to get something working.

Overall, Fruit Ninja Kinect is a great purchase, at least if you're looking for something to play at parties or an easier to understand (and easier on the body) game to show off the Kinect. Although the games won't keep you engaged for longer than a few minutes, it is still fun and offers a nice arm workout at the same time.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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