Game designers can debate what separates a “Game” from an “Activity” but whatever your definition of a “Game” is, Fruit Ninja just barely qualifies as a one. It originated as a 99¢ iPhone app in which players swipe their finger across the screen to chop fruit icons that lazily fall through the air. The free demo on the iPhone encapsulates the full experience, and there’s no reason to spend 99¢ on it. The Xbox version of the game costs a whopping ten dollars, and doesn’t offer anything new to the experience aside from the novelty of being on the Kinect. After a few minutes with it, you’ll have experienced all that it has to offer. It is one step up from the free games on the Kinect Adventures DVD.
The premise of Fruit Ninja Kinect is that players are a ninja who uses martial arts skills to chop fruit, much like John Belushi in Samurai Deli. A shadowy outline of your body appears in the background of your TV screen, while pieces of cartoon fruit float through the foreground. Any gesture you make with your arms or feet results in a slashing effect on the screen, and any fruit that happens to be in your path is sliced in half.
There are a variety of Modes and Challenges that add a small bit of variety to it, but no matter which mode you play, you’ll still just be waving your arms at virtual fruit, trying to score some points or beat a timer. There are a few power ups that increase or decrease the rate at which the fruit appears, and the various modes will penalize players for hitting bombs, or missing a piece of fruit, but all of this can be fully explored within minutes.
Of course, there are many gamers who fire up their Xbox specifically for short simple play sessions, and enjoy this kind of casual gameplay. It definitely has an audience as evidenced by the success of the iPhone app, and fans of the iPhone version will be happy to hear that the Kinect will detect different kinds of movement, and would-be ninjas can karate chop, kick, and twirl around to chop fruit. So, if you already enjoy Fruit Ninja in its portable form, you’ll probably enjoy being able to slash your imaginary fruit with your whole body, rather than being limited to just one finger.
Small, energetic children are likely to have an enthralling experience. The Department of Electronic Entertainment allowed one of our 9 year-old Deputy Agents to try it and he had to be pried away from Fruit Ninja Kinect. This is one of the unusual aspects of Fruit Ninja Kinect; it’s more fun to watch other people playing it than to actually play yourself. Usually when you watch someone else playing a video game you ask “Can I play”, but Fruit Ninja Kinect prompts the exact opposite reaction: “Hey, you give it a try”.
Hardcore gamers, and most grown-ups should stay far away from Fruit Ninja Kinect. If it came free with your copy of The Gunstringer, then it’ll worth taking a few minutes to explore, but don’t consider it a ten-dollar bonus. It’s not something to be invested in unless you already have some eight-year-old ninjas running around your house, or if you’re desperate for another simple party game for your Kinect. This family-friendly game has a DoEE Age Rating of C-71.