The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Mobile games are a different breed. Designed to immediately jump into the action and provide a quick thrill, many mobile phone games are fun for about five minutes and then are quickly forgotten. Last year, Australian developer Halfbrick released Fruit Ninja for iPhone and other mobile devices. Thanks to its simple charm and intuitive gameplay, the game quickly shot to the top of the charts. Now Halfbrick is hoping to grab the attention of the console market by releasing its mobile darling on Xbox Kinect. The game smoothly handles this transition. Fruit Ninja Kinect is still immediately entertaining, but not so easy to forget after you’re done playing.
For those who haven’t played Fruit Ninja before, the premise is simple. A fruit basket worth of produce is tossed up onscreen, and players have to slash apart the selection of watermelon, pineapples, bananas, etc. Halve three or more pieces of fruit in one swing and you’re awarded a combo bonus. A game of Fruit Ninja tends to only last a minute or two, but slicing fruit in half feels so satisfying and the race to beat your high score is so demanding, that Fruit Ninja achieves that addictive replayability of many classic arcade titles.
Halfbrick keeps this fruit smoothie fresh by iterating on the formula a few times. In classic mode, several bombs are thrown up along with the fruit, and the game ends if you get too careless with your swings and hit a bomb. It’s also game over if you let three pieces of fruit fall to the floor uncut. Zen mode does away with the bombs, but gives you only a limited amount of time to rack up the biggest score possible. Arcade mode also gives players a limited amount of time to top their high score, but then throws negative point bombs and a variety of specialty fruits into the mix. These special bananas do a variety of things such as slow down time, double combos, or initiate a barrage of fruit. Each mode offers its own subtle trials, and a challenge mode sets score goals for each mode, which encourages you to top your personal bests.
It doesn’t take long to experiences everything Fruit Ninja has to offer, but it is a game you can repeatedly boot up during parties or family gatherings. While I reviewed the game, a line nearly formed as half the editors in the office wandered by to test their fruit slicing skills, only to inevitably get sucked in for a second or third round. The game offers both competitive and cooperative two-player modes, but it’s often just as fun to switch off between rounds of the single-player modes. Fruit Ninja tugs at your competitive desire to constantly best yourself and your friends. I probably said, “Just one more round,” five or six times before finally ending my session, and ultimately sliced up so much fruit that my arms were sore the next day. It’s not often a good thing when a game causes pain, but in Fruit Ninja’s case, it’s a testament to its addictive nature.
There is a line of reasoning among certain members of the gaming community that mobile games offer an inferior experience to those on consoles. While Fruit Ninja probably won’t end that discussion, its smooth transition from phones to consoles makes me wonder if mobile games and console titles are more alike than some would admit. If you’re having fun, does it really matter if you’re sitting in your living room or on a bus? It may be that if a game is entertaining then it’s doing its job, and Fruit Ninja Kinect gets that job done.
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