STRAWBERRIES WERE CULTIVATED IN ANCIENT ROME!
THE SEEDS MAKE UP OVER 50% OF THE WEIGHT OF A POMEGRANATE.
STAR FRUIT ARE NATURALLY FAT AND CHOLESTEROL FREE.
LIMES WERE FED TO BRITISH SAILORS TO PREVENT SCURVY.
You’re a ninja. You slice fruit. What more could you ask for? This is literally the Citizen Kane of gaming.
If you’re part of the 1 billion plus crowd of people that have ever downloaded Fruit Ninja on mobile devices, you know exactly what to expect from Fruit Ninja Kinect 2’s presentation—they’re not the flashiest visuals you’ll ever see, but everything on display here gets the job done. Bright and colorful, recognizable at a glance, and easy to read, they’re the textbook example of workmanlike. Even the audio design is quite good, with a satisfying array of sounds to compliment the often chaotic onscreen action. Maybe some appropriately-themed ninja tunes could have worked their way into the game, if only to create a better sense of frantic urgency during some of the timed game modes, but this is a minor complaint. It’s not the packaging here that matters, it’s the gameplay.
Thankfully, Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 is just as fun as its Xbox 360 predecessor, which I enjoyed immensely. Actually, I take that back: Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 is even MORE FUN than the original. This is largely due to the addition of a four-player party mode that sees each ninja engage in one of three, randomly selected minigames that are layered atop the traditional fruit-slicing mechanics, the freshest of which is undoubtedly Ninja Posing. This minigame has you strike a series of poses to match the ones shown on-screen, quickly becoming incredibly silly. There is also the more traditional two-player Battle Mode, but with an added twist: new power-up bananas can be sliced to harass your opponent by quickly filling up their side of the screen with bombs or by making their fruit faster and harder to hit. It’s a great new feature that makes the game a lot more competitive and conducive to repeat play sessions.
“But wait, there’s more!” Festival contains four all-new game modes, each presented by a different character. Katsuro and Mari (that’s the green and red-haired ninja, respectively) have disappointingly similar challenges: shuriken dodge and spotlight avoidance. There’s nothing bad about them, they’re just rather bland. Conversely, Nobu (the bald one) and Han (the blonde-haired one) have each got much more interesting challenges to their name. Nobu’s Bamboo Strike tasks the player with preventing an outbreak of bamboo by slicing its seeds before they hit the bottom of the screen. Bamboo obscures your vision, prevents fruit from appearing, and traps bombs in its shoots, forcing you to cut through the bamboo in order to proceed.
Perhaps the most interesting new mode, however, is Han’s Apple Range, which plays more like a game of darts than it does a proper Fruit Ninja minigame. In this mode, players are tasked with throwing blades at wooden boards in the hopes of pinning fruit to them, As a result, it’s got an entirely different sets of motions associated with it, which was quite jarring during my first encounter with it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun and it works well (much like the bamboo challenge), it just seems a little out of place here. The other returning modes are exactly as they were in the original 360 release, so they’re not really worth talking about except to say that if you had fun with them then, you’ll almost assuredly have fun with them now. Technically, there is a new progression system that ranks you all the way to level 30, but you can ignore it entirely as it doesn’t add much to the Fruit Ninja formula.
As a final point of discussion, however, it should be noted that Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 pays honor to its name by having exceptionally accurate Kinect tracking. Projecting the player’s “shadow” to the background provides a constant frame of reference for real-world movements, giving you constant feedback should you need to adjust the aim of your swipes. The game doesn’t struggle to keep up with you, and that’s commendable.