Review: Fruit Ninja is bland solo, but fun dish with friends

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Fruit Ninja samurai

The most common question I get when I tell my friends about Fruit Ninja is, “Does your sword training help?” I have years of training in both Aikido and Iaido, which are both derived from traditional samurai martial arts. Check out the About Us page to see me in my Iaido gear. I actually think the training did complement my Fruit Ninja skills as I would consistently find myself assuming basic sword positions, checking my posture and even noticing my poor footwork while slicing fruit. I also think that after years of sword practice my arms are capable of cutting for hours without getting tired or slowing down, which helps during those really frenzied moments as the fruit hurtles across the screen.

Fruit Ninja dessert

Saturday after playing Fruit Ninja, I had an awesome idea for a dessert to make on my barbecue grill using nectarines. After hours of virtual practice at slicing fruit, I rocked that grill with a nectarines and amaretto dish that made me appreciate fruit almost as much as I appreciate amaretto. Thanks, Fruit Ninja!

Ingredients:
Nectarines — half a nectarine per serving
Amaretto liqueur
Whipped topping
Pecan bits

1) Cut nectarines in half, removing the pits. The pit is hard to remove, so use a sturdy, sharp knife and all your Fruit Ninja skills.

2) Pour some amaretto liqueur in a bowl. Not enough to submerge the nectarines. That will make the fruit sticky and hard to hold when you eat it later.

3) Dunk the nectarine halves into the bowl one by one with the side you cut face-down for a few seconds.

4) Grill face-down for a short period of time on a low setting until scorch marks appear on the fruit. You’re not cooking the fruit really, only caramelizing some of the sugar in the nectarine.

5) Remove from grill.

6) Put whipped topping on the nectarines.

7) Put pecan bits onto the whipped cream.

The simplicity of Fruit Ninja is also what makes it a fun. Having your friends around makes this game a blast and for only 800 Microsoft points, it’s a wonderful addition to the scant titles being offered for the Kinect.

In Fruit Ninja, fruit is thrown into the air on the screen and it’s your job to chop it up with your hands — or feet if you’re that flexible. The game emphasizes combos for cutting several fruits with a single slice, providing double score for combo slices. “Bonus Bananas” offer slight changes to the formula such as giving double points, slowing the game down or hurling a fruit stand’s worth of produce at you. The last one is definitely the most fun, giving you the opportunity to go on a fruit mutilating rampage, coating the walls in citrus splotches.

The game frequently tosses a bomb alongside your quarry, forcing you to try and strike everything but it. The penalty for hitting the bomb depends on the gametype, but should obviously be avoided. While there are different modes offering slightly different approaches, objectives and rules to keep it fresh, after a little practice they all blend together into a fruit pulp that only needs a dash of rum and a little ice to become an excellent cocktail.

When it comes time to fire up the multiplayer, expect some bruises. You can either chop fruit cooperatively or competitively. Cooperative fruit mangling was pretty simple, and without any goal or real sense of challenge it became kind of boring. Competing to chop fruit was where the real hazard came in. Each player must chop up either blue or red fruit, losing points if you chop your opponent’s fruit. As if flailing your limbs violently in close proximity wasn’t dangerous enough, the game also adds random free-for-all white fruits into the mix that offer bonus points to whoever chops it first. I’m surprised those events didn’t lead to more blood loss among my friends as we pulverized each other attempting to reach the white fruit first.

There were really only two drawbacks to the game, and they were minor. The scrolling menu that you use to change blade effects and backgrounds was a little frustrating with the motion controls, but ultimately manageable. The other was that the game only includes 15 achievements for 250 gamer points. Three achievements for 50 gamer points involve the Storm Season expansion pack. The pack is 160 Microsoft points and only includes three minor aesthetic changes. I have no intention of buying it, but it did make me feel like Halfbrick Studios was trying to squeeze a little extra cash out of its DLC customers rather than include that small amount of content. The iPhone version of this game is only 99 cents and the Kinect version is 800 Microsoft points, so why isn’t the pack like 16 Microsoft points then?

Even with the bruising, Fruit Ninja is really fun to play. The controls felt accurate for the most part, giving me the opportunity to slice with precision. Even watching people play single player is incredibly fun, and you’ll laugh at your friends as they do jerky kung-fu moves and get furious at produce. With practice your precision increases, but new players will figure it out instantly and be enjoying themselves pretty quickly. It’s definitely worth playing at your next party while drinking fruity drinks and arguing about whose turn it is to kick some fruit salad ass.

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