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Fruit Ninja

Review: Fruit Ninja Kinect 2

Mar 16 // Brett Makedonski
Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 (Xbox One)Developer: Hibernum CréationsPublisher: Halfbrick StudiosReleased: March 18, 2015MSRP: $14.99 For the few who don't know, Fruit Ninja relies on the suspension of disbelief that you are a ninja (apologies to the actual ninjas in the audience), and that fruit is your mortal enemy. As fruit is tossed up on the screen, slashing, slicing, dicing, chopping, and cleaving motions dispel the pesky produce. Efficiency is key, and eliminating melons, berries, and citrus in numbers of three or higher is more rewarding in every sense of the word. Again, it's a simple premise. Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 warmly welcomes back arcade, classic, and zen modes, all of which remain (almost) untouched in their varying degrees of danger and urgency. However, there's also an attempt to add depth with four new modes, a bolstered multiplayer system, and campaign objectives. They're all fine improvements -- small tweaks on a formula that really can't be tweaked all that much. Festival is where seasoned Fruit Ninja players will find the most jarring changes. These four games each place their own significant caveat on gameplay. Two of them require avoiding incoming shurikens and staying out of a moving spotlight while still slicing fruit. Another throws seeds into the mix which, when not disposed of, turn into bamboo that needs chopping down. And, in maybe the biggest twist yet, one game trades in faux katanas for barroom darts. [embed]289110:57801:0[/embed] All that mostly ends up serving as a distraction -- a palate cleanser when the three mainstay modes temporarily overstay their welcome. They'll also have a share of campaign objectives that are unique to them, as Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 has a level progression system that sees the player from whatever unremarkable title rank one holds, through Fruit Ninja at rank 30. In the past, the only real reason to keep at Fruit Ninja was for leaderboard dominance. While that urge is still present, the stripped-down campaign does a lot to encourage continued play, even if there's nothing notably unique about it. Honestly, Fruit Ninja Kinect 2's most alluring prospect is as a party game. Fortunately, the multiplayer has evolved significantly since the past iteration. Now, four-person play is supported (although only two at a time, with swift trade-offs), and there are mini-games galore to ensure that everything's more varied than "chop more fruit than your friends." Predictably, Fruit Ninja Kinect 2's biggest weakness comes from the implementation of the Xbox One's Kinect. It's not a perfect motion peripheral, and that can become all too evident when laser-like accuracy is necessary. But, to their credit, the developers did the best they could minimizing the severity of the issue. One of Fruit Ninja Kinect's greatest strengths (and it's true of this game, too) is that it maps the player's shadow to the background. It seems somewhat insignificant, but this gives the player an omnipresent frame of reference, something that other Kinect titles couldn't offer. Most importantly, it mitigates the imprecision of the Kinect by projecting a constant and reliable method to altering body movements that'd achieve desirable results. And, brilliantly enough, this all exists in the player's subconscious. Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 is subject to the same technical downfalls in theory, but it handles them a bit better in execution. That's to be expected; it's using improved hardware, after all. There aren't many instances of Kinect just flat-out refusing to read your movements. The issues are more nuanced than that. Sometimes it'll put players on the wrong side in multiplayer and refuse to fix the problem. Other times, it won't accept the bowing command to pause the game. Most of these are niggling complications that can be worked around once you know how Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 consistently functions. Still, it's frustrating until that point's reached. Ultimately, Fruit Ninja Kinect 2 is a game that improves upon its predecessor in almost every conceivable way. Anything less would be unacceptable given that this feels somewhat more like a remaster of sorts than a true sequel. There aren't any major alterations, as the Fruit Ninja concept can't be shaken up too dramatically. But hey, it turns out that frantically slicing fruit still makes for a nice little distraction, regardless of whether it's on a tablet, a phone, or a television.
Fruit Ninja review photo
Banana, split
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