iPad Game Review: Fruit Ninja HD Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Fruit Ninja HD, like its iPhone/iPod counterpart Fruit Ninja, is a wholly original gesture-based game where you are tasked with using your fingers to slice fruit in mid-air. Bonuses and achievements are awarded for slicing different combinations and amounts of fruit, and the game ends when you let three pieces of fruit fall unsliced, or when you slice a bomb.
If you're a fan of the iPhone version then you're most likely going to like the gameplay of the HD version. The thing that really sets this game apart from other gesture-type games is the unmistakable ninja feeling it gives you. As you build your prowess, you will develop your own starting finger positions, finishing moves, and ninja noises (I dare you to play this game silently). You will learn when to use both hands and when it is best to use multiple fingers of one hand, or even just a single finger for those precision strikes. The reason precision is important is because the game randomly tosses up bombs mixed in with the fruit. Slicing even one of these bad boys will instantly end your game. The game also ends when you let fruit drop unsliced. The fact that you are allowed to miss 3 fruits yet can?t survive even a single bomb means that aggressive play is likely to be punished rather than rewarded? unless you are a true Fruit Ninja, that is. A second mode of play called Zen is also available. My youngest son dearly loves this mode because you can?t lose. Here, you are given the chance to slice as many fruit as possible in a given amount of time. Great for little ones, as well as all of you laid-back produce assassins.
For those social gamers out there, be prepared to add Fruit Ninja HD to your list of favorite multiplayer games. The extra screen real estate means that you can finally test your ninja skills against another player in the split-screen mode. In classic mode, you and a friend will compete head-to-head in an all-out battle to see who is the superior ninja. In Zen mode, a slider will advance toward one player or another based on how many fruit are sliced or missed. I can tell you from experience, don?t engage in a Zen Battle with an 8-year old boy right before bedtime. One of these games can easily last 20-30 minutes, or until your fingers cramp and the screen is obscured with perspiration. Be sure to have plenty of water and a towel nearby. In both modes, the game will toss exactly the same fruits simultaneously, thereby preventing the loser from employing the ?comparing apples to oranges? argument (sorry, I couldn't resist).
The game features OpenFeint integration for those of you who are achievement-oriented. This leads me to what is probably my favorite part of the game: The Sensei?s Swag. Although the game has no pre-designed adventure-type mode, the ability to unlock different blades and backgrounds by slicing specific numbers and combinations of fruit really helps keep the game fresh, especially for those obsessive completionists out there. I was a bit disappointed to find that the iPhone version has recently received an update containing an additional blade and background while the HD version has not. Hopefully, Halfbrick will not be relegating the iPad version to stepchild status the way Chillingo has with Angry Birds HD. iPad users have a legitimate expectation to see the same content as iPhone users, and on a reasonable timeline; especially for 5x the price.
The graphics in Fruit Ninja HD were surprisingly underwhelming. After firing it up, my first thought was that I had inadvertently launched the iPhone version by accident. Unfortunately, I was wrong. The fruit is only marginally higher resolution than the non-HD version; Worse still, the backgrounds look like they simply pixel-doubled the original Fruit Ninja art and slapped it into the game. This gives the whole game a fuzzy, low-res look, especially when compared with that of upstart competitor Veggie Samurai HD. This is a shame because it significantly decreases the game?s value; especially considering the iPhone version is 1/5th of the price.
The sound effects in Fruit Ninja HD are first-rate. From the musical intro at the start of each game to the satisfyingly wet sounds of blades obliterating fruit, this is a game you won?t want to play with the sound muted.
Fruit Ninja HD faithfully reproduces the excellent gameplay of its non-HD cousin. However, the lack of parity in content updates between the two versions is somewhat disappointing, as are the disappointingly low-resolution graphics. If you really need the split-screen multiplayer feature then chances are that feature alone will be worth the $5 price of admission. However, if you tend to be a solo player, my recommendation is to stick with the iPhone version; at least for now.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 2 - Fuzzy, disappointing graphics, although they are nicely animated. Sound: - 5 - Excellent use of music and sound effects are beautifully1sampled. Controls: - 5 - The multi-touch interface is responsive and accurate. This is one of those games that does such a nice job at implementing the interface, you don?t even think about it. Gameplay: - 5 - Classic multi-touch, Fruit Ninja goodness. The addition of a split-screen multiplayer component adds a whole new layer to the game.
Playing Hints and Tips:
-Experiment with multiple fingers/hands to figure out what works best for you. The larger screen real estate means it's harder to respond quickly, but it also gives you more accuracy.
-Take a moment to look at the unlockable blades and backgrounds before you start playing in earnest. Some of these require specific strategies that you are unlikely to stumble upon by accident.