Ever since Child of Eden hit months ago, my poor Kinect sensor has been gathering dust. It just hasn’t had a stellar lineup of must-haves…until now. Kinect Fruit Ninja is exactly the game I was looking for. The premise is simple - instead of using a knife to cut fruit, you use your hands while a bunch of fruit items (and bombs) come up, and your goal is to slice as many pieces of fruit as possible while avoiding bombs and slicing power-ups to either freeze time or lead to a monstrous amount of fruit to hit the screen for rapid slicing and dicing action.
That may sound simplistic, but there are score multipliers at play and a variety of modes and challenges to meet that keep things fresh. The mode selection includes Classic, which limits you to three lives and throws the bombs in your path. Each fruit you don’t chop takes away a life, while bombs are an instant game-ender. The arcade mode that lasts a mere minute and encourages you to get as high a score as possible while avoiding bombs, which instead of taking away a life as in Classic mode, just take away ten points, and making use of power-ups. Players who want to just enjoy the game without concern will have a blast with the Zen mode, which puts two minutes on the clock and takes away bombs and missed fruit penalties.
Each mode has their own pros and cons - Classic is great if you want a challenge, while Arcade gives you less of a challenge because of the reduced bomb penalty, and Zen is a happy medium because it usually has higher score targets for you to achieve, requiring more accuracy even if it takes away the penalties. Some challenges may seem simple, like getting a score of 60, but even something like that is harder than it seems because you can only miss three fruits. Another requires 250 points and is very dependent on you avoiding bombs and racking up combos so the post-game bonus points swing wildly in your favor.
While the core gameplay is still hollow even with the multipliers and alterations between modes, it’s a blast to play. The only thing I feel really hurts it is the Kinect’s not quite 1:1 motion detection, which hurts all Kinect games, but causes more problems for games that require precision timing and aiming. This issue is very annoying when you’ve got multiple bombs on-screen and have one near a fruit, but due to the lag here compared to the 1:1 control of a touch screen, you can easily find yourself hitting the bomb instead of the fruit you’re aiming for.
Visually, KFN looks as good as I can imagine a game involving slicing fruit looking. The fruit itself looks pretty good - realistic enough to show what each item is, but also somewhat cartoony as well. The chopping board backdrops all look nice too, especially when they’re splattered with a million kinds of fruit innards. That’s one of those things that isn’t exactly fun to see in your own kitchen, but on a virtual chopping board, it’s a glorious sight. There are also a variety of unlockable chopping boards to change up the backgrounds a bit, although actually using the menu to select them is a bit more of a chore than it should be. There isn’t much music to speak of, but what’s here is fine and the flute-based tunes fit the “ninja” part of the title well, but isn’t very memorable.
All in all, Kinect Fruit Ninja delivers a lot of fun for $10. It’s not a very in-depth experience, but for a game about chopping fruit, how much depth could there really be? If it was $15, I’d say wait for a price drop, but $10 is a fair price even with its Kinect-related drawbacks. It would definitely be better on the DS/3DS due to a touch screen being the best way to play this, but using the Kinect is an acceptable, if imperfect, substitute. If you’re dying for a really fun, new party game for the Kinect, this is it, because you can easily get video of your friends looking like complete fools flailing their arms around trying to chop virtual fruit. If you do, don’t be greedy - let them take video of you, and just hope that their camera’s Youtube functionality is faulty.