Fruit Ninja is one of those mobile games which took the world by storm when it was first released for iOS devices back in 2010, and currently has more than 1 billion downloads across all supported platforms. A year and a half after release, Fruit Ninja Kinect made its way to the Xbox 360, and instead of using your finger to slice fruit like a badass ninja, gamers flailed wildly in their living rooms slicing and dicing fruit. Fast forward three and a half years, and Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 is coming to the Xbox One this Wednesday. We were fortunate enough to get an early review copy from Halfbrick Studios, and take a look in our Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 review.
As with the original Fruit Ninja Kinect game,the object is to slice as many pieces of fruit as you can within a specified time period using your arms as the blades. Developed from the ground up, Halfbrick Studios teamed up with Canada’s Hibernum Créations for the sequel. For Fruit Ninja Kinect 2, a new cast of characters who guide you through the Festival portion of the game is introduced, as well as five new gameplay modes, and a new four-player party mode.
The game still includes the original Fruit Ninja Kinect modes – Arcade, Classic, and Zen – and has added four new game modes that you play through as part of a Festival. In these new game modes, not only do players slice fruit but there are other objectives included as part of each mode.
In Katsuro’s Ninja Dodge, players must also dodge shurikens. Get hit with one and you lose points (although there is an achievement for getting hit by every shuriken in a level of this mode). If you haven’t played the first game, you can see a shadow outline of yourself on the screen which helps with dodging the shurikens and figuring out where your hands are in relation to the fruit flying across the screen. As well, this mode adds the fast “Copter Fruit” – you know, the fruit you see flying around with copter blades? – for an even greater challenge.
As you play, you level up by completing other objectives to increase your belt rank (just like a real ninja!) including slicing a certain number of fruits, hitting a specified number of combos in one game, and many more. After reaching rank 2, you can head into Mari’s Strawberry Stealth mode where you must avoid spotlights by ducking, dodging and weaving. Like the Ninja Dodge mode, stand in the spotlight and you lose points.
At rank 3, players are introduced to Nobu’s Bamboo Strike – slice seeds quickly, if you miss they’ll grow into bamboo shoots which not only restrict your vision but prevent you from slicing fruit and even trap bombs. If you do miss a seed, you’ll have to slice the bamboo out of the way quickly in order to continue your fruit salad slicing bonanza.
While the previous three modes involve slicing, Han’s Apple Range takes advantage of the Xbox One’s updated Kinect Sensor technology. Instead of slicing, players must making throwing actions to throw darts at the screen. You get points for each fruit you hit, but you get more points if you can pin the fruit to a target.
As you level up, you also earn unlocks or fruit credits to buy additional sword or shadow effects, as well as different backgrounds to use.
As far as the gameplay goes, the new modes are really fun and add that much more enjoyment to the classic Fruit Ninja Kinect modes. Being a Kinect game, I’m sure you’re all wondering how well it responds as Kinect games are generally hit or miss with responsiveness. While the Kinect does respond well, there were a few instances where your shadow seems to shift and as a result, your hands are too high or too low. Stepping back out of range of the Kinect (or off to the side), then back in seems to fix this behaviour but it does make it a bit of a pain when you are in the middle of a level.
The graphics are fun and very colourful, and as with the previous games in the series, the cartoon look fits the game well. The various blades and shadows you can unlock are generally well done, and the option to choose your backgrounds (after you’ve unlocked them of course) allows for some fun game customization.
The sound effects are great as well, from the swooshing of your “sword” to the sound of fruit or bamboo being sliced in half and the sharp zing of the shurikens and throwing knives. Bamboo sounds like wood being cut, fruit sounds like fruit being sliced, and the additional sounds depending on what shadow or blade you’re using work very well.
But what fun is slicing fruit if you don’t have a partner? In Fruit Ninja Kinect 2, anyone can jump in during any mode – including the new Festival modes. Battle Mode also makes its return, and this time power-up bananas have been added which, when sliced, can be used to shrink your opponent’s fruit, make your opponents fruit go faster, or even cause a flurry of bombs to appear on your opponents side of the screen.
While Battle (and the other) modes only allow for two players, the new Party Mode allows for up to 4 players. At first thought, you’d think four people flailing about in front of a TV would not only be hilarious but also potentially dangerous, however even if four players are playing, Party Mode has you playing in groups of two. During each round, mini-games are triggered between the two current players. The mini-games consist of Ninja Poses (where players must match the pose on the screen), Balloon Popping (tossing daggers at the screen to pop balloons), and Pomegranate Slicing (get the most number of slices on a pomegranate before it explodes). Every once in awhile the round pauses and indicates which two players should be in front of the screen. At the end of the round, each player has had the same number of turns and amount of time played and a final score is tallied.
Unfortunately, this is where Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 stumbles a bit. During a couple hours of Party Mode play, there were a few times where the game would fail to register the second player properly and as a result one player would have a significant advantage while the other player tried to get back into the action. While this may not seem to be a big deal, it can be quite frustrating, especially when playing with an 8 and 10 year old who immediately start complaining about how unfair the game is.
When the game did register both players properly (which was most of the time), it did work great and was just as responsive to each players actions as it is during solo play and everyone had a blast playing it.
Even given its multiplayer shortcomings, Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 is a fun game that adults and kids alike should enjoy. The new Festival and Party modes add a fresh take to a classic game, and it makes great use of the Xbox One Kinect sensor. If you’re looking for a fun party game, you can’t go wrong here.
Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 launches on the Xbox One on March 18th for the price of $14.99USD.