Fruit Ninja did incredibly well on the App Store and for good reason: its fruit-slicing gameplay was a perfect fit for the short-burst gaming the iPhone offers. It also felt at home on a touchscreen device, offering precise sword swinging by swiping your finger across the screen. It was also 59p. On the Xbox 360 Fruit Ninja Kinect isn't on a platform perfectly suited for short-burst gaming, there's no touch screen and it costs 800 Microsoft Points (almost £7). But it works and is jolly good fun.
The basics of the gameplay are essentially the same as they were on the handheld: slice fruit to earn points, slice a bunch for combo points, avoid bombs and try not to miss any fruit. The rules vary between each different game type, but the core mechanic sees you flailing your arms (and legs if you want) about, cutting various juicy looking fruits in half.
All the iPhone game's modes are included here along with some exclusives only found in the 360 game. Classic asks you to slice up fruit while avoiding bombs, with the game only ending if you miss three items of fruit or strike a bomb. The requirement to hit all the fruit while dodging bombs means Classic mode is the biggest test of Kinect's functionality and precision, and for the most part the hardware does the job very well.
Initially it's a hard to judge exactly where you're slicing (the game places a silhouette of your body on the screen), but after a few games both hands will be whizzing about the screen with a level of accuracy only marginally below that offered by the touchscreen interface on the iPhone. There's a small about of lag on your inputs but nothing that will be noticed by anyone who isn't looking for it, and the ability to wave about two arms feels more natural than swiping two fingers on the touchscreen.
More immediately accessible are Arcade and Zen, which take place under timed conditions but don't have any Game Over penalties. Arcade mode throws in point-deduction bombs but you're always left to play through until the timer counts down, while Zen is just you against the fruit. Zen mode might be where you'll go to tune your slicing skills without the stresses of the other game modes, but Arcade is where the most fun will be had.
As well as the aforementioned bombs, Arcade throws in a number of power-up bananas that alter the game by offering double points, a frenzy of fruit or severely slowed down time. A pomegranate also appears during Arcade and Classic games, slowing down time and allowing you to slice the poor purple fruit into a pulp before it explodes and clears the screen in the process. This found its way into the iPhone release in the latest update and works brilliantly in the Kinect version of the game.
New to Fruit Ninja Kinect is Challenge mode, in which you're tasked with reaching certain goals: 50 points in Zen Mode, 150 points in Classic mode, etc. These are a neat way to jump right into the action with a clear objective, but there doesn't appear to be a steady rise in difficulty. You might have a string of challenges achievable with your eyes closes, followed by something that requires ninja-like reflexes, making for some frustrating moments.
Multiplayer for two players includes the versus mode found in the iPhone game (slice your coloured fruit, avoid your opponent's fruit, and try to get the white fruit first) in which highest score wins, as well as a team mode in which you just hack up the fruit together. Versus mode is the most fun, but as with all Kinect games, you do need a fair bit of room in order to avoid accidents resulting from flailing arms.
As a word of warning, Fruit Ninja Kinect is one of the most active games available for the device. It's incredibly easy to get carried away with your slicing and after each session you can expect your shoulders to be feeling it - a bonus for anyone using Kinect to inject some activity into their normal daily routine.
There's no denying that Fruit Ninja Kinect is great fun when played alone or with friends, and makes excellent use of the Kinect hardware, but it's also a little overpriced when compared with the iPhone offering. You get slightly more content, but I can't help but think you're paying for a beefed up mini-game. Still, if you own Kinect Fruit Ninja is one of the best experiences available for it.