Fruit Ninja Kinect doesn't have any structure. You just sort of load it up, play, and move on. The Xbox 360 port of one of the iPhone's greatest games is rigidly stuck in its original mobile mentality, now with the addition of, uh, mobility. It's a combination that should scream "shallow garbage," especially at ten times the original price. Instead, it winds up as a surprise hit in the Summer of Arcade lineup.
Above: You'll need to be acutely aware of your body's position at times
While we're on the subject, let's just acknowledge that prancing around your living room or bedroom and flailing like a friggin' fool is the last thing we needed in the summer. It is far too hot to put this much effort into karate chopping groups of juicy fruits. It's an utterly exhausting experience for fatasses that's strangely empowering. The glowing trail behind our precision punching and the satisfying pop bursting from our delicious victims is far more fulfilling than it has any right to be.
Most Kinect titles require limited or sustained gestures because, let's be honest, they're either lame launch games that didn't do anything interesting with the hardware or they're fitness games. Fruit Ninja was already chaotic when we swiped and slashed with our thumbs to score big combos. With the freedom of movement in an area the Kinect demands, the simple-minded, minute-long rounds have an added sense of urgency and accuracy. We were often forced to risk detonating a bomb and losing points to score a sweet combo with the perfect arc of our arm. We did notice an annoying dead zone in the center of our on-screen body that messed up the gesture detection from time to time, but we eventually just stopped swinging from the center - this worked out better anyway, since swinging outward rather than directly at a line of coconuts usually leads to accidental bomb-exploding. Don't do that.
Even for the iOS-obsessed audience, FNK is a wholly different game based on the same mechanics. This is especially true when you're standing beside your roommate who you accidentally punched in the balls going for the flashy 2x bonus banana. (Seriously, sorry man.) Adding another physical body to the co-op and competitive multiplayer modes is far more fun, if only for the mutual sympathy for each other’s suffering, a far more fun bit of mini-gaming than bluetooth on the iPhone allows.
Above: Be careful during Frenzy bonuses in multiplayer. That's a lot of hands hitting a lot of fruit
It's not much more than an HD port of the iOS game (eerie lack of music and all) so Fruit Ninja Kinect isn't designed for the style of play we're used to on 360, even on Live Arcade. This may be its greatest advantage. It doesn't tie itself down by abiding to unnecessary console conventions. We hop in for a 60-second challenge, fail a few times and crawl to the kitchen for some water, leaving the game behind until we once again feel the irresistible urge to fuck up some fruit.
Aug 8, 2011