If the Government want people to eat five items of fruit and veg a day, it can be argued that fruit really needs to be more fun. Give your child a plate of greens, or sometimes even a banana, and they'll turn their nose up at you while they scoff their packet of crisps. To them, it seems, fruit's just too boring. If the world were more like Fruit Ninja Kinect, however, we'd likely be in a different situation. If every time you had to eat some fruit, you had to slice it out of the air with your bare hand like a boss before eating it, and, most importantly, you earned points for doing so, we'd probably be onto a winner - and a whole lot healthier to boot.
If you have an iPhone, or iPod Touch, or even know anyone who does, it's likely you'll have heard of Fruit Ninja Kinect. Luckily, for those of you who haven't, there's very little you need to know in order to get up to speed. Using the Kinect sensor, Microsoft's full body tracking thingamajig, you stand in front of your Xbox, as bits of fruit get fired up into the air. Like the true ninja you are, it's up to you to dice the evil fruit into tiny sections before it hits the bottom of the screen - and that's about all there is to it.
If you're the sort of person who looks for a deep, involving storyline in your games, then Fruit Ninja Kinect obviously isn't for you. On the other hand, if you're fine with the idea of standing in front of your TV, looking like you've either got ants in your pants, or are being swarmed by hundreds of invisible wasps, (and don't mind the neighbours thinking you're a bit of a loon), then read on.
There are three main modes of play here; Zen, Classic, and Arcade, but the basics stay the same between all three - all you have to do is slice as much fruit as you can in the time limit you're given. In order to help you tell where you are in relation to the fruit, there's a little silhouette of your body at the back of the screen, which is something of a Godsend as the levels get more complex. Thankfully, the learning curve here is pretty much non-existent, as it's incredibly easy for even the most novice of players to pick up and play - almost literally, all you have to do is stand in front of your TV, and flail about like an idiot - although even a brief explanation of the goals of each mode would have been nice.
You see, although each of the three main modes has its own little twist, there's actually nothing in the game to explain it to you - not even a "How to Play" section, which is the standard for every other Xbox Live Arcade title. It's lucky they're all fairly easy to figure out - although there are still a few bits we've had to look up.
The first of your modes, Classic mode, is, if you've played the iPhone version, your classic Fruit Ninja experience. There's no time limit here, but you need to hit every single piece of fruit that gets fired up the screen - miss three, and it's a game over. To make your job harder, bombs ocassionally get thrown up into the mix too - and should you hit only one of those, it's curtains for you. The idea here is basically to last as long as you possibly can - which is seemingly not that long, thanks to the game's nasty habit of firing up bombs, which are hiding behind fruit, leaving you with an impossible situation - either way, you lose.
Stepping away from the frantic pace of Classic is Zen mode, which is a much more relaxed affair. Here, there are no bombs, and no real objectives, as all you have to do is get the highest score you can in ninety seconds. As in the other modes, the best way to do this is through combos, which earn you bonuses for taking out more than three pieces of fruit in a single swipe - should you manage to take out eight in one go, there's even an achievement for your trouble.
Finally, and offering a nice middle ground is Arcade mode, which is basically a combination of the previous two. Giving you sixty seconds to slice as much fruit into a gooey mess as possible, Arcade mode throws a few extra things into the mix. For starters, the bombs it throws up now don't kill you, but instead take ten points off your score, while special, power-up bananas can be sliced to activate brief periods where either the fruit slows down, your score gets doubled, or it throws crazy amounts of fruit at you, leading to massive combo possibilities.
Bringing up the rear of the pack is Challenge mode, which, well, sets you a number of challenges to achieve across the various modes. Whether it's asking you to score over 160 in Zen mode, or beat 500 in Arcade, this is actually the only mode that has any real sort of progression to it, and isn't simply about beating your last high score - which is one of the few falling points of Fruit Ninja Kinect.
If you have more than one person who uses Kinect in your house, then you'll likely get a lot more out of Fruit Ninja than someone who plays on their own, as a large part of the appeal of the game is in beating other player's scores. If no-one else uses Kinect, you'll only be competing with yourself, and with no real single player mode to progress through, it's likely Fruit Ninja Kinect will lose its appeal pretty fast. Of course, if everyone in the family has a go on Kinect, and you've got plenty of Xbox Live friends with the game, then beating them to the top of the weekly leaderboards will be a challenge worth making your arms drop off for - and when the game's this much fun, you'll want to keep yourself coming back.
As a big plus, Fruit Ninja Kinect is actually one of the least space hungry Kinect games out there. Seeing as it only really has to track the top half of your body, you only need five to six feet in between you and your camera - which is nothing compared to some games (we're looking at you, Your Shape), and means that we don't have to entirely re-arrange our living room when we want to play!
As an even bigger plus point, the game also comes with proper, two player simultaneous co-op and versus modes, letting you slice and dice to see who's the best mid-air chef between the two of you. As a quick word of warning, though, it is important to make sure you've got plenty of room between the two of you before trying this - it can lead to a few too many bruised arms and bumped heads if not.
Like all great games, Fruit Ninja Kinect takes a simple concept, and refines it to the point where it's a lot more fun than you think it really should be. In fact, our only real concern is the pricing. With little in the way of a single player mode, and the iPhone game available for 79p, while this costs a not-unsubstantial £6.80 for what's effectively the same game, only with added motion sensing controls, it's hard to justify the increased price. Similarly hard to justify are the two DLC packs out at the moment, which cost 160 Microsoft Points, and add an extra background, extra colour of slicing, a new type of silhouette for you, and three new achievements - basically, nothing at all - but it still means you won't be able to 100% complete the game without downloading the (pointless) extras. Sigh.
Still, with a friend in tow, or with a few friends to compete against on the leaderboards, Fruit Ninja Kinect is a lot of fun. It just really should be cheaper.