Also available on: iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7
Publisher: Microsoft Games Studios
Fruit Ninja Kinect arrives at a time when Microsoft's motion device has started to show its true potential. Countless new, ambitious and promising Kinect games were announced at this year's E3 event in Los Angeles, while recent titles such as UFC Personal Trainer and Child Of Eden have proved that Kinect can indeed handle the basics. The latter in particular has shown that this controller-free gaming malarkey has the potential to produce some real gems.
While Fruit Ninja Kinect may not be as innovative or creative as Ubisoft's sublime shooter, it's tailor made for the Kinect experience, and is exactly the sort of simple to play party game that should flourish on the system. However, as games such as Sonic Free Riders and Fighters Uncaged have shown, Kinect isn't always the easiest system to develop for.
For those who have never heard of the game, Fruit Ninja Kinect is based on the iOS and Android game of the same name (minus the Kinect part). Instead of using fingers to swipe a screen, however, players use their arms to slice and dice the scores of strawberries, lemons and limes that fly across the screen with reckless abandon. Players are represented on screen as a shadowy figure (adding to the whole Ninja theme), while customisable coloured trails are used to display the slashing motions. It's incredibly simple, utterly addictive and works exactly as it should, thanks to the Kinect camera offering immediate and accurate body tracking.
Fruit Ninja Kinect contains four game modes, none of which deviate from the basic slice and dice objective. Classic mode is potentially endless, essentially giving players three lives to chop until they drop. Lives are lost for any pieces of fruit that fall from the screen intact, while accidentally detonating a bomb results in an instant game over. The current high score is displayed on screen at all times, which really drives the game's competitive element, especially for obsessive types, while the inclusion of Xbox Live leaderboards further adds to the fun.
Arcade mode is even more chaotic and features lots of additional power-ups and potential pitfalls. Fortunately, each session only lasts a minute because the mode is unbelievably draining, although certain pieces of fruit freeze time and slow down the action, while others add point multipliers and swish visual effects. Zen mode is also timed, but is far less frantic, giving players 90 seconds to slice as much fruit as possible without having to worry about bombs and point penalties. None of the modes are exactly brimming with depth, but they are all highly addictive and feature additional challenges to freshen things up.
Fruit Ninja Kinect also contains a more traditional multiplayer mode, which enables players to work together to slice fruit in unison or battle side-by-side for the highest score. The twist in the latter is that players and produce are matched by colour. The red player may only slice the red fruit and the blue must stick to the blue. Points are docked for any infractions, while neutral coloured fruit is also thrown on to be sliced by the fastest ninja. Both party modes are good fun, but neither offers quite as much enjoyment as taking it in turns and competing for the highest score in Classic or Arcade mode.
Aside from a few potential multiplayer injuries, the game's biggest flaw is that the motion sensitivity - while perfect for the instantaneous in-game action - causes a few problems in other areas of the package. In particular, menu navigation is incredibly clumsy. Any slight movement will see players selecting incorrect menus and modes, which are as difficult to exit as they are easy to enter. A comprehensive voice activation system might have been a better option for the game, or the now standard hover and hold approach adopted by the majority of Kinect titles.
Occasionally the overly sensitive swiping and slicing affects the action itself, causing players to accidentally detonate bombs, although these instances are generally few and far between. The price may also prove a stumbling block for some. At 800 Microsoft Points (£6.80 / $10), it is cheaper than shelling out for a brand new Kinect-enabled retail title, but is still substantially more expensive than downloading the original from the Android Market or iTunes Store. Also, despite a generous number of extras such as backgrounds and swipe effects, it would be nice if there were a few more game modes to play around with.
Fruit Ninja Kinect may be infinitely more shallow than fellow Summer Of Arcade releases From Dust and Bastion, but is certainly no less enjoyable. The latest Xbox Live Arcade release is simple enough that anybody can play, incredibly addictive and offers short bursts of fun in both a single and multiplayer capacity, making it perfect for groups of all ages and skill levels. Quite simply, Fruit Ninja Kinect has all of the ingredients of a classic party game and is another juicy addition to the Xbox Live lineup.
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