Wednesday, August 17

Fruit Ninja Kinect Review (X360) - You'll want a tablet for your back

Available on Android, iOS and Windows Phone 7, Fruit Ninja is a true success story for the Australian games industry and the casual gaming revolution at large. If you've never played an iteration of the game prior to now, it's safe to assume one of two things:
  1. You're still packing a Nokia 3320 and are of firm belief that Snake is as good as mobile gaming can get.
  2. You've awoken from a coma recently and are still unsure as to why you can't find Game Boy Colour games at your local games retailer. 
Microsoft have opted to include a motion-controlled version of the game as part of its Summer/Winter of Arcade promotion this year with mixed results.

The Good
Bring the family - While I'm not a huge fan of Kinect-powered gaming or motion control in general, Fruit Ninja Kinect will get young and old off their feet and swinging their arms with gay abandon. My wife was more than happy to trial this title with me; something I can't say for any other game I've reviewed this year.

 I am NOT cleaning this up!

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! - Few would refer to me as patriotic, but I'm still very proud of Brisbane developer Halfbrick's tilt at world domination through casual gaming. To think that this touch and motion-controlled phenomenon was born from developers based in my hometown is enough to warm my cold, black heart.

"Tuck-shop lady arms" be gone! - This an observation from my lovely wife: the frantic flailing of limbs required to succeed in Fruit Ninja Kinect will ensure that excess arm flab becomes a thing of the past. I'm no personal trainer, but my experience with the game produced a few litres of sweat and some sore appendages; but more on that later.

Spirit of competition - Fruit Ninja Kinect employs a leaderboard system that allows for sometimes-spiteful fruit slashing fun. Upon finishing a game, your score will be ranked above or below your friend's best efforts which - in the case of our household - led to many incendiary hand gestures. While the gameplay itself wasn't always satisfying, smashing a friend's score always was.

The Bad
The question of value - Fruit Ninja Kinect is as much as fifteen times more expensive than other versions of the game. Sure, some may not have local multiplayer or properly functioning leaderboards (I'm looking at you, Windows Phone 7 version!), but whether you get more fun out of this exponentially-more expensive version is debatable.

The Ugly
Be sure to stretch - Embarrassing admission: I threw my back out something fierce after my first session with Fruit Ninja Kinect. To be frank, I was about two ibuprofen tablets shy of agony after flinging my arms around in front of my Kinect sensor like a madman. Halfbrick and Microsoft may not have thought to warn you, but I will: stretch, and stretch well before you play this game. You're welcome.

Unfaithful - Fruit Ninja Kinect's gesture-based controls are inaccurate at best, and just plain non-responsive at their worst. Short slicing motions will often fail to register at all; meaning that you'll miss all of those smaller fruits that evade your larger swings. To make matters worse, almost every backswing would get picked up by the Kinect sensor and there was - at times - noticeable lag between a large swinging motions and when they appeared on screen.  I couldn't achieve scores anywhere near those you'd find on my Windows Phone 7 handset. I couldn't even hit triple figures in Classic mode.

Good luck with that errant pear.

Bare bones - Apart from your friends inching ever closer to your high scores, there's very little to bring you back to Fruit Ninja Kinect. If it weren't for the room-hogging local multiplayer (co-op and competitive modes are available) and gesture-based controls, there's very little here that you can't experience on your phone or tablet - and I'm sorry that I can't get away from this - at a considerably-lower price.

The Verdict
Make no mistake, Fruit Ninja Kinect offers fun for the entire family. How much fun however, is dependent on how much time you've spent with the game previously on other platforms. The inaccurate controls and lack of longevity also make this hard to recommend.

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