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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
Any way you slice it, Fruit Ninja is one of the most popular mobile games of all time. It's built around such an unassuming foundation that it lends itself perfectly to those lulls in life when you don't really want to think ...

Free games photo
Free games

Halfbrick makes some good games, and now all the iOS ones are free


Happy holidays
Dec 18
// Brett Makedonski
Ah, the holiday season. That awkward time of year when you're expected to be in the same room as your extended family, talking to your great aunt that you barely remember about how no, you're not in school anymore; you gradua...
Xbox One photo
Xbox One

There's going to be a Fruit Ninja Kinect 2


Sure, why not?
Jul 11
// Jordan Devore
A ratings board listing has outed the existence of Fruit Ninja Kinect 2. You cool with that? Fruit Ninja was one of the rare titles for Xbox 360 that made decent use of the motion-sensing device, so it makes sense that the ne...
Halfbrick photo
Halfbrick

Halfbrick is getting into the publishing business, starting with Birzzle Fever


Beyond Fruit Ninja
Jun 17
// Chris Carter
Halfbrick has been around basically since the beginning of the revolution of the mobile market. With Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, it cemented its status as a respected developer, and even dabbled in the console aren...

Jetpack Joyride photo
Jetpack Joyride

Jetpack Joyride is still getting free updates nearly three years after launch


Version 1.7 arrives
Jun 14
// Chris Carter
Say what you will about mobile games in general, but a whole heap of developers are doing the platform right. One of the good guys is Halfbrick, who has contiuously updated Jetpack Joyride for nearly three years now with...
Bears vs. Art gameplay photo
Bears vs. Art gameplay

Bears vs Art gameplay shown in short new trailer


More pieces of puzzle game revealed
Mar 18
// Conrad Zimmerman
Last week, Halfbrick announced their latest game for iOS devices, Bears vs. Art, setting up a bunch of (adorable) exposition about a bear and the art museum which has infringed upon his territory but barely offered anything ...
Bears vs. Art photo
Bears vs. Art

Halfbrick reveals new puzzle game Bears vs. Art


When nice bears go bad
Mar 10
// Conrad Zimmerman
I hope you have some insulin handy because this trailer introducing Halfbrick's new game, Bear vs. Art, is sweeter than strawberry sundae topped with candy-coated gumdrops. I have watched it four times and still giggle at ho...

Review: Colossatron: Massive World Threat

Dec 19 // Chris Carter
Colossatron (Android, iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5])Developer: HalfbrickPublisher: HalfbrickReleased: December 19, 2013MSRP: $0.99 As the game begins, you'll see the story unfold through the eyes of the "Metro 6 Action News Team," and their "straight shootin'" lead reporter Rick Dalton. A giant dragon robot creature (dubbed the "Colossatron") is heading straight for earth, and it's up to General Moustache to blow it off the map. Yep, this is the team that brought you a guy named "Barry Steakfries" and a machine-gun powered jetpack, and it's just as goofy as ever. The visual style has a cool classic cartoon vibe, to the point where I would have believed it was a real show. Everything from the names of the characters and the bright colors ooze charm, and it wasn't hard to buy the premise based on looks alone. Having said that though, Colossatron is really slow to start -- as in, sluggishly slow.Your job is to allow the Colossatron to wreak as much havoc as possible by "grabbing" interlocking pieces of its body floating out in the city, and "sliding" them into its snake-like body with the touch interface. You'll find your basic red, blue, and yellow variations, and you can actually choose the order that they go in based on where you slide them. So in other words, you can have the "tail" consist entirely of reds cannons, and the neck can sport blue snow beams. [embed]267267:51781:0[/embed] That's basically all you do at first -- collect pieces of the snake's body and put them into place, as the game will take care of the aiming and movement for you. Throughout the course of the first world, things were moving painfully slow, to the point where I actually wondered "is this it?" But once I completed the first set of levels, the game really opens up. At that point, you have the option to unlock "gadgets" for the Colossatron and change its properties in multiple ways. You can add targeting capabilities that allow you to touch a certain part of the screen and focus fire, healing effects, shockwave abilities, and extra weapons like flamethrowers. Each country opens up a new tier of gadgets, which basically let you customize your snake to your liking. You'll also start to see the potential with combining different colors together, with an interesting overarching risk-reward type strategy. Should you decide to mix primary colors together to form dual combos like purple and orange (all with their own bullet types), you're limiting the overall length of your robot, essentially giving it less "HP" and a higher propensity to explode. If you go for tons of smaller attachments you may not be as powerful, but your survival rate increases significantly with the right gadgets. It's an interesting system for sure that gets better with time, and it's really unique -- especially given the touch-centric control scheme that wouldn't work as well with a controller. Then you add in a few other curveballs like atomic bomb attachments that can be detonated at will, and things start to get a little more interesting. Although each new gadget opens up a new window of gameplay for the Colossatron, you're going to be doing the same thing over the course of the game's seven stages, unless you spring for the score-attack portion of the game. Basically, going back and re-doing old countries will open up a "Survival Challenge" mode, in which you go for the highest score possible and compete with friends (sadly, you have to sign into Halfbrick's servers with Facebook or Google+ to do this). The problem is, it's not all that enticing as the vast majority of your creature's upgrades are earned through the campaign -- so you're essentially playing for points alone with no real motivator in sight. Although I had a great time with the story, I'm already waiting for a content update and more substantial upgrades for my character. Colossatron takes a short while to get started, but it ramps up into a really fun, simple experience that's best enjoyed in portions. It never truly hits the heights and endless replayability factor of games like Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, but it's a solid offering in Halfbrick's growing list of mobile classics.
Colossatron photo
Cheesy '90s cartoon goodness
In the modern era of videogames that tends to take itself seriously a bit too often, I occasionally enjoy kicking back with ridiculous, over-the-top games. Games that remind me of the '90s -- where teenage turtles and Super S...

Halfbrick photo
Halfbrick

Halfbrick's Colossatron launching December 19th


For iOS and Android
Dec 12
// Chris Carter
Halfbrick has announced the release date of their newest mobile game -- Colossatron: Massive World Threat. It'll hit both iOS and Android marketplaces on December 19th, and will be a universal app for the former. Halfbrick i...
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You need to destroy the world in Halfbrick's new game


Colossatron: Massive World Threat
Jul 18
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Halfbrick, makers of hits such as Fruit Ninja, Jetpack Joyride, and more, have just announced Colossatron: Massive World Threat. The game sees you taking control of a giant robot snake alien thing and your goal is simple: BL...

Review: Fish Out of Water

Apr 20 // Chris Carter
Fish out of Water (iPad, iPhone [reviewed on an iPhone 5])Developer: HalfbrickPublisher: HalfbrickReleased: April 18, 2013 (iOS)MSRP: $0.99 (with minor microtransactions Fish Out of Water, simply put, is a game about throwing and skipping fish across the sea for points. You'll choose from a pool of six fish -- including a dolphin, which the game highlights is not a fish -- as you set out to appease five crab judges and earn the highest score possible. One fish excels with horizontal flings, another, vertical movements. One of the fish splits into multiple fish to maximize skips, and another can be flung really high into the air for maximum distance and so on. As you fly through the air, you can randomly pick up boost orbs. Reading the weather and decided which fish to fling, and the technique of the actual toss, is key to consistent success, but beyond tapping the screen to boost at the right moments, there's a massive amount of luck involved that may turn off people looking for a deeper play session. As shallow as it sounds, it's actually pretty fun in short bursts. Like an interactive zen garden, the plopping sounds and whimsical music are fairly relaxing, and although it's a departure from the unique graphical style of Halfbrick's usual work, the cute designs work on a fundamental level. [embed]252027:48230:0[/embed] Fish has a rudimentary "challenge" system in place, tasking you with goals like "skip 50 times" or "maintain a certain speed for 15 seconds." These goals help to keep you engaged, but they aren't nearly as interesting or addictive as say, Jetpack Joyride's challenges. Most of the goals are dry, and don't really do a good job of making me feel like I absolutely need to complete them, which is a problem. There's a "league" system in place, where you can sign up to represent a named team (such as Destructoid, or Reddit), with a scoreboard that collects every member's maximum rating and pits them against other teams. It's a somewhat neat feature, provided you're willing to link your Google or Facebook account to do it. But despite the zen-like nature of the game, one of Fish Out of Water's major faults is the lack of replay value. The maximum score you can earn is a cumulative "10," and on top of that, fish don't have individual power-ups to utilize, which leads to a homogenization of gameplay. Maybe if each fish had a leveling system, where you could actually feel a sense of progression, I would feel the urge to push on -- but as it stands, I'm only compelled to pick the game up for a few minutes, then put it back down. The magic of most of Halbrick's games is the addictive need to keep playing at all costs. In fact, I spent three hours once running through Jetpack Joyride's challenges until I effectively "beat" the game, only to prestige and keep playing more. With Fish out of Water, it's not the same experience, as it can really only be played in short spurts. Fish has in-app-purchases, but they're so hard to find that I almost think Halfbrick didn't even want to include them. If you click on a tiny icon in the corner, you can buy a collection of one-use power-up crystals to buff your fish -- the same crystals you earn through completing challenges. While  almost a non-issue, it's something to be aware of. If you're looking for a new time waster, Fish Out of Water is a decent experience, despite its lack of depth. If you require something with a little more meat on its bones, feel free to wait, because in all likelihood, just like Jetpack Joyride, this will go free at some point given the fact that in-app-purchases are already featured.
Fish Out of Water photo
A very minor splash
Not all videogames have the same goal. Some seek to challenge the player, others, to relax them. Halfbrick usually resides somewhere comfortably in the middle, with easy-to-pick-up titles like Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride ...

Fish Out Of Water photo
Fish Out Of Water

Halfbrick's Fish Out Of Water out on April 18


Finger flishing flicking
Apr 16
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Halfbrick, makers of hits such as Fruit Ninja, Jetpack Joyride, and many more, are set to release Fish Out Of Water this week on April 18 for iOS devices as a universal app. Their latest title sees you flicking an assortment...
Fish Out of Water photo
Fish Out of Water

Halfbrick reels in new game Fish Out of Water for GDC


Flinging fish for fun
Mar 26
// Dale North
Halfbrick had us flinging fish with their newest title, debuted here at GDC. Fish Out of Water has you pulling up fish straight out of the ocean with your fingertip, flinging them, and watching them go the distance as they s...
Jetpack Joyride PSN photo
Jetpack Joyride PSN

Jetpack Joyride boasts over a million PSN downloads


For PlayStation 3 and Vita
Feb 15
// Chris Carter
Congratulations Barry Steakfries! You've reached one million PSN downloads for Jetpack Joyride. Halfbrick just announced last night that "1,000,000 accounts" have downloaded the game over the PlayStation 3 and Vita platforms....
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Jetpack Joyride launches for free on PSN and Vita


Free steak fries!
Dec 21
// Dale North
Mobile hit Jetpack Joyride launches on PS3 and PS Vita this month, with Europeans getting it today while North Americans wil have to wait until December 31. It's in full HD, features leaderboards and trophies, and will be abs...
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Fruit Ninja is free today on iOS


Grab it in the next 24 hours
Dec 17
// Chris Carter
Odds are if you have a mobile device, you've heard of Fruit Ninja. It's pretty much perpetually in the top fifty rankings, and it even had an Xbox 360 release. The simple concept of slicing fruit with your fingers has been co...
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Jetpack Joyride is on PlayStation Network


Only $3.99
Nov 21
// Dale North
Halfbrick isn't satisfied with the 35 million mobile downloads they've got for Jetpack Joyride so far, so they're adding the game to the PlayStation Network this week.  This one-button wonder comes to PSN for the low pr...
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Jetpack Joyride finally out on Android, and it's free!


Sep 28
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Android owners can finally play one of the most enjoyable mobile games ever with the arrival of Halfbrick's Jetpack Joyride. Best of all, it's free! You can download the game either through Google Play or the Amazon App Store. You really have no excuse here. We gave Jetpack Joyride a 9 out of 10 in our review last year. And did I mention it's free? Because it's free. FREE!
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Jetpack Joyride is now on Facebook


May 11
// Chris Carter
The insanely successful mobile game Jetpack Joyride (formerly known as Machinegun Jetpack) has hit Facebook. Right now it's in "beta", but from what I can tell, this version is essentially the entire game. For the uninitiated...
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Fruit Ninja Kinect slices up over a million in sales


Mar 07
// Chris Carter
One of the staple "go-to" games in the Carter household is Fruit Ninja Kinect -- it seems as if I'm not alone, as Halfbrick's Phil Larsen has just announced that the game has topped one million downloads (that's not even incl...
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GDC: Jetpack Joyride 1.3 update brings gadgets to the mix


Mar 06
// Dale North
We met with Halfbrick's Phil Larsen yesterday here at GDC to eat all of his candy and steal all of his beers in his hotel suite. During this invasion he showed off a bit of Jetpack Joyride's upcoming update, which will intro...
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These cats are better than you at Fruit Ninja


Dec 30
// Dale North
Gaming animals are rare, so we should treasure them. Especially on slow news days.  "Cat playing Fruit Ninja" is Mack1094's first YouTube video, and it's already nearing 49,000 views. His adorable kitty is a pro at Frui...
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OMG: Jetpack Joyride free on iOS devices right now!


Dec 19
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Jetpack Joyride is free for a limited time right for the iPod, iPhone and iPad! The runner style game sees you avoiding obstacles and collecting coins through the use of a jetpack that happens to be a freaking chain gun. Seriously, Jetpack Joyride is stupidly addictive and you're a horrible stupid face if you don't even try the game. You jerks.
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Fruit Ninja Kinect's Free Christmas DLC is up now


Dec 14
// Dale North
I love Halfbrick. They're good guys that make good games. Fruit Ninja is one of those games that everyone loves. I mean, how could you not love karate chopping flying fruit?  You also love free stuff, right? Fruit Ninja ...
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Fruit Ninja toys are actual things you can buy


Dec 06
// Jim Sterling
I still remember Halfbrick when they were just a tiny little Aussie studio with an obscure game about skeletons. Nowadays, these guys are mobile powerhouses, with Fruit Ninja being one of the most recognized games on the mark...
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Holiday Kinect bundle has Fruit Ninja, Gunstringer, more


Nov 01
// Jordan Devore
Microsoft has announced that a new limited-edition Kinect Holiday Bundle, priced at $149.99, is on the way. It's actually worth considering, if the games included -- The Gunstringer, Fruit Ninja Kinect, and Kinect Adventures ...
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Jetpack Joyride is free if you Like it


Oct 28
// Maurice Tan
In case you haven't had a chance to check out how fantastic Jetpack Joyride is, you can now get it for free through the AppStore Facebook page. Just go there, Like it, click the giant "Get App Now" thing (or do that here if y...
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Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots slashes onto iOS on Oct 20


Oct 07
// Jason Cabral
Halfbrick, the developer of Raskulls, Jetpack Joyride, and the hugely popular Fruit Ninja series has just announced a new title in the portable slicing genre. Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots will be releasing on October 20 a...
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Fruit Ninja's sticky juice to splatter all over China


Sep 29
// Dale North
Man, there's just something about Fruit Ninja. Even the most jaded, weathered, hard core gamer can still find some time for this casual delight. Everyone loves this chart-topping Halfbrick mobile title! You're a cranky piece ...
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Free Jetpack Joyride update adds dragon and other goodies


Sep 13
// Jordan Devore
Halfbrick's much-loved iOS title Jetpack Joyride has reached 350,000 downloads in its first week, proving once again that the studio seems to have a handle on this whole App Store business. Alongside this news of success come...

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