The arrival of the new generation of video gaming gave gamers around the world the chance to take in some outstanding gameplay, stunning visuals, hard beats and emotional stories. Basically, the arrival of new gen has managed to scratch even the most hard to reach of itches.
Now though, it has brought us Fruit Ninja Kinect 2. Great…because I think we all know what to expect from a Fruit Ninja game.
Whilst the original mobile title has quite clearly had its day, the initial transfer to the big screen with the Xbox 360’s Fruit Ninja was a fairly decent triumph. But that was back when the slashing of fruit as fast as you can was a bit of a worldwide phenomenon. Those days seem to be long gone, but whilst the hardcore gamers of this world no doubt scoff at the fact that Fruit Ninja can be played on Microsoft’s latest console, surely there is still a small place in the world for a newer greater version of Fruit Ninja?
Well Halfbrick Studios and Hibernum Creations certainly think so.
But I’m not too sure.
Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 does exactly what it says on the tin. The Blueberry Moon Festival lets you take your ninja skills to a whole new level throughout the classic Quickplay mode, across some new ones set up specifically for the Festival or up against your friends in the 2-4 player multiplayer that is on offer. Slicing and dicing is the name of the game, with the more fruit hit, the bigger the combos gained and the gathering of the highest score you can being the main objectives of everything you do. With the power of Kinect for Xbox One, and the increased precision that comes with that, the slight issue that the previous game had on the less refined Xbox 360 is surely all but overcome.
With recent motion controlled games faring supremely well (take a look at Fantasia: Music Evolved for the near on perfect Kinect title), Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 pales into the background when compared to other Kinect titles. It’s simple to use with very little gaming experience needed, but neither the implementation or indeed the core game gleams, as five years after first experiencing the craziness of fruit slashing, the enthusiasm and wow factor has near on completely worn off.
Halfbrick and Hibernum can’t be faulted for the amount of gameplay options on offer though.
Quickplay is the meat and drink of Ninja Kinect 2 and brings the standard Classic mode (miss 3 fruit or hit a bomb and it’s game over), Zen mode (90 seconds of play with no powerups or bombs…just basic old score building required!) and Arcade mode (60 seconds to chop as much fruit as possible) to all gamers. Anyone who has played Fruit Ninja on any format over the years will be instantly at home and will, for a reasonable amount of time, be happy with what they’ve got. The Blueberry Moon Festival also brings a number of mini-games to Xbox One in an attempt to freshen things up a little. Initially all of Mari’s Strawberry Stealth, Katsuro’s Ninja Dodge, Nobu’s Bamboo Strike and Han’s Apple Range give budding ninjas something else to aim at (quite literally) but even the dodging of spotlights and shuriken throwing instead of the usual swiping and slashing gets boring real quick.
The graphics are clear, crisp and wonderfully bright, with the numerous options in the Swag store giving you the chance to amend things to your own taste, but the actual swiping mechanic required to ensure the game is a success seems a little off. With one person playing solo, there are times when hitting the right menu button for instance turns into a bit of a chore. Granted, precision isn’t totally necessary when swiping through the fruit on show whilst in game, but I’d have liked a little more accuracy put in place. Throw another two or three players alongside you and even the smallest of arm crossing sends the ninja inside the Xbox One into meltdown.
The one real saving grace for wannabe ninjas could well have been the inclusion of a four player multiplayer mode, but after an initial fun period spanning no more than five minutes, issues quickly arise. With two players involved, other than a mix up in arms, things work okay; but take the party size up a notch or two and it’s all a bit of a mess. This is no more prevalent than when four players try to enjoy the game as only a room of huge proportions will suffice; with the average sized living room only managing to house two players in game comfortably. I’ve not seen this issue on any recent Kinect game (and my living room certainly hasn’t changed in size), so it’s disappointing to see Fruit Ninja struggle with the usual dimensions. Even if you do manage to get a few playing together, the game unfortunately loses track of the players far too readily. Sitting down and playing Fruit Ninja (something which really should be possible) is also a bit of a no-go area.
Overall then, and other than the issues with multiplayer, Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 does nothing majorly wrong. However, unless you really need to wave your arms around attempting for high scores once again, it doesn’t bring an awful lot new to the gaming table. In fact, I’d only really continue playing Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 if I was all that bothered about earning new Ninja Belts by leveling up, if I was looking to complete one of the many challenges that were available, or if I was adamant that I could beat one of the higher scores on the leaderboards. Unfortunately, none of that interests me.
My enthusiasm for fruit slicing was already at an all-time low, and Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 doesn’t help perk it up at all.