STAFF REVIEW of Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 (Xbox One)

Friday, March 20, 2015.
by Adam Dileva

Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 Box art It’s that time again to slice and dice some flying fruit by flailing your arms about and getting some use out of your Kinect. You may recognize the Fruit Ninja title from its incredibly popular mobile game version that released a short 5 years ago and is on almost any platform out there. In 2011, Halfbrick released a Kinect version for the Xbox 360 and was surprisingly decent and one of the few games in Kinect’s life cycle that worked well.

For those that have never played Fruit Ninja before, the general premise is that you’re a ninja with a strong detest for fruit, as you need to slice and dice any that pop up on the screen. For its mobile iterations, you simply swiped the screen to cut them in half, but with the Kinect versions, you use your arms as swords and will slice the flying fruit tossed up the screen. Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 improves upon what the Xbox 360 version introduced, granted, we have a much more powerful and accurate Kinect this time around with Xbox One. You need to be efficient with your chops by eliminating many different fruits in multiples of three to gain a higher score and multiplier bonuses, and the new Kinect gives you much more accuracy to do so.

If you played the game previously, the staple modes of Arcade, Zen, and Classic return once again, almost unchanged, but there are some new additions for veterans. There’s four new interesting modes that add some depth to the simple gameplay, a leveling system, a much improved multiplayer mode, and smaller tweaks that feel more of a refinement than an evolution. Festival is where the new modes are contained and introduce some new gameplay elements to the series. Here you’ll have to not only eliminate any fruit you see as per normal, but each game will have its own objective such as avoiding shurikens, spotlights, not letting bamboo seeds hit the ground and grow, or even gives you the ability to throw knives at targets.

My favorite of these new modes was easily the throwing darts, as wooden boards will randomly appear and your goal is to throw darts as them as fast as possible, hopefully pinning some fruit to them in the process for big point gains. The other mode where you are tasked with destroying bamboo seeds is an interesting diversion, as if they fall they instantly sprout bamboo shoots that need to be cut down since you’re unable to see or slice any fruit that flow behind them. The new modes are very straightforward, as is the game as whole, but that makes it very accessible for players of any age or skill able to play and enjoy themselves.

Almost every mode lets you work towards the encompassing leveling system that gives you small objectives to strive for, and once you complete these you’ll net a medal. Collect three medals and you’ll rank up and gain a new title, all the way up to level 30. To earn the medals you’ll have to do anything from slicing a certain number of fruit, ending a level with a specific score, slicing a specific number of specified fruit, and many more. Most are quite simple to do either over time or if you solely focus on the objective itself, but there are a few that are much more challenging and will take a few attempts. The new ranking system does add a little more incentive to continue playing over time, but leaderboards and the multiplayer are what will keep you coming back for more (unless you truly are a ninja who despises fruit).

Multiplayer has a bigger focus this time around, most likely due to the better hardware, and actually allows for up to four people to play together, well, kind of. Four players are supported but only two at a time will actually be able to play, allowing for quick tag-ins to swap players. There are two modes for multiplayer, the first being a more traditional head to head, seeing who can chop the most fruit but with power-ups that can be used to make the opponents gameplay much more difficult. The second is a bit more whacky and will have you slicing fruit as per the norm, but also randomly having to do goofy poses among other objectives. It’s basic, but that’s part of the allure and I can see it being entertaining with a group of friends over, especially those that aren’t the biggest gamers.

I really only have two complained about Fruit Ninja Kinect 2. The first being the way you’re supposed to pause the game. In theory you’re supposed to put your hands together and bow, just like you would show someone respect, but I’ve never gotten this to work no matter how many times I tried. Many times I wanted to pause because of my toddler running in front of me but I could never get it to execute, even once. Not a deal breaker, but an odd Kinect issue, especially when the rest of the game controlled just fine. Lastly, as a whole, Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 feels incredibly hollow as a gaming experience. Sure there’s a leveling system in play that you can work towards, but if you don’t have friends to play with regularly, it feels as if there’s little replay value once you’ve unlocked most of the items with the currency you earn through playing.

That being said, it is fun in short bursts. It’s a great game if you simply have a quick 10 or 20 minutes to kill, or kids that need to burn off some energy. The game is so simple in its premise that there really is little to no learning curve, as even my non-gaming wife was able to play instantly without having to ask any questions.

Is Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 a reason to go rush out to the store and grab a Kinect if you don’t have one already? No. It is a fun game though if you do already have one and have been wanting a game to have for it or something to play for friends coming over. It’s not as embarrassing inducing as a dance game, so non gamers will likely have a better chance at giving it a shot if others are playing it as well. The core game is virtually unchanged, but it is improved and a better experience overall. No matter your age or gaming abilities, you’ll be able to channel all of your ninja prowess and chop mountains of fruit all in the name of fun.

Overall: 7.2 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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