Before you even begin to read this review, I want to tell you right up front that it is a severely half-assed piece of work. Transparency is where it's at, homey. The reason is simple: there was never supposed to be a Fruit Ninja Kinect review. A downloadable throwaway of 800 Microsoft Points, meant to do nothing but kill a few hours, turned into something far more engrossing than I expected.
In case you're part of the 2% of folks who have never heard of the touch gaming sensation Fruit Ninja, here's a bit of background. You put your finger on the screen and swipe at flying fruit much like a samurai battling hallucinated ghosts in an orchard. Now replace the mobile with your living room, and the touch screen with a Kinect. You got it, mad fun.
What has changed from the small screen of mobile devices to the larger screen in your living room? Not much, except the fact that you ain't touching a damn thing. It's a Kinect game, you know, your body is the controller and all that. So what it boils down to is the player standing in front of their Kinect, waving their arms like a deranged man attempting to rid himself of unending pestilence. Fruit flies (get it?) on screen, and you kill it with your hands. The Kinect's tracking is spot on, maybe due in part to only the upper body being tracked. I tried slicing with kicks, and most times the movements did not register. However the waving of arms is quite good enough, and will make you feel like a bad ass after you've racked up a nice combo. You may also feel pretty freakin' cool after you complete a slash and hold the pose until your next swipe. Posing like Ultraman, or Power Rangers: that is truly otaku but gangsta.
Now would be a opportune time to tell you that I've never played the original Fruit Ninja, which is both bad and good. Bad because I have no reference for this Kinect remake, and good because this is a brand new experience for me. Though even if you've invested the equivalent of a few weeks time in Fruit Ninja touch, the Kinect offering will feel new and fresh, I'm certain. There are plenty of play modes, most having the player trying to meet a particular score criteria while continually attempting to one-up the previous scores. You can 'tag' in and out of single player to create a bootleg two-player experience. The Kinect projects your body as a shadow which, by true ninja standards, disappears with a poof when you've moved out of the camera's field of view. Anyone else can step in front of the sensor, their shadow will appear with a poof, and they just pick up the slicing where the other left off. There's no pause or lag in-between tagging, so swapping in and out becomes a game in itself, to assure your team doesn't miss any fruit while switching shifts.
Of course, there are also proper multiplayer modes built for two. The split screen battle has two players competing simultaneously with different colored fruit for each to maim. Attack your opponent's fruit and you lose points. Either player can attack a neutral colored white fruit for bonus points. The whites come soaring onto the screen randomly, so react quickly and expect things to get nasty. You will reach onto your opponent's real estate, and someone is going to get slapped, inadvertently or not. Good times.
If you're feeling less than comepetitive, you can enter cooperative fruit genocide where both players swipe at everything on screen, with points adding to a pool. There are fruits that freeze the action, slowing everything down and making it a breeze to line up massive combos. The frenzy fruit floods the screen with ripe little thangs eager to meet their demise, but this frenzy will also possibly hasten the depletion of your stamina. Make no mistake, you will wave wildly in an attempt to keep up. Last but not least, purple bombs will negate both of the above effects before their limited time is up, and also deduct points from your pool when struck. While these variables exist in most of the game modes, I feel as if they're most prevalent in two player cooperative. You will be trying to amp up your partner during a frenzy, or scolding them for accidentally chopping a bomb. Pay attention, dummy!
You may have noticed this review has avoided touching on art and sound design, mostly due to my own laziness. But before you start complaining about the incomplete write up, I will preemptively counter by saying this review is giving you all you need to make an informed decision. Fruit Ninja Kinect is easily the most fun I've had with the motion device since my first days with Dance Central. The 800 MSP ($10) price tag makes this purchase a no-brainer if you've invested in a Kinect. Money well spent.
Buy it: If you've always wanted to feel like a member of Power Rangers Ninja Storm, OR simply if you own a Kinect
Don't buy it: if you don't own a Kinect, duh!
The Score: 8 outta 10 Blasters