Fruit Ninja has raised the food-slicing bar by releasing an update that allows for multiplayer matches over Apple’s Game Center. As it turns out, this is just what the game needed to launch into Must Have territory.
Competing online is easy. Just slice the “multiplayer” fruit on the mode select menu and choose whether you want to play against a Game Center friend or a random opponent. If you choose a Game Center opponent, the game sends a push message to your friend while you wait for him or her to respond. If you select a random opponent, you’re put into a match with someone else looking to play at the same time. In our tests, we never had to wait more than five seconds to be matched up.
The rules for multiplayer are as simple as they are for single player. All pieces of fruit tossed onscreen are outlined in either blue, red, or white. You must slice the blue fruit and avoid the red fruit. White fruit can be sliced by anyone, and is worth three points. Accidentally slicing your opponent’s fruit docks you three points. It’s great fun to compete with real people in real time, and to work on your win/loss record.
Fruit Ninja currently straddles both Game Center and OpenFeint social networks, with the former handling multiplayer and the latter tracking achievements and leaderboards. On their info page on the App Store, developer Halfbrick Studios says that full Game Center support is coming soon. We’re not sure whether they’ll drop OpenFeint entirely at that point, but it seems likely.
At any rate, we think they’re on the right track with their updates and can’t wait to see what’s next.
Fruit Ninja celebrated its two year anniversary with an update that adds an in-game store that lets you purchase power-ups. Buying these power-ups requires currency, which comes in the form of starfruit. You get starfruit just by playing the game, but– as is the way of these things– if you want more, you can buy them through in-app purchase.
Three different power-ups are on offer, including Bomb Deflects, which swat bombs off the screen when you accidentally hit them, Berry Blasts, which appear randomly as you play and give you five points apiece instead of the usual one, and Peachy Time, which add extra time to Arcade and Zen Modes. All of the power-ups are automatic, so you don’t ever have to think about pressing a button to use them. That’s particularly nice, because it means you can focus on clearing the screen when things start getting hectic.
So this is definitely a fun little update, but with this new revenue stream it would be nice if they would offer the game for free, like how they do with Jetpack Joyride. And we’re not so thrilled with what adding player-purchased power-ups does to the integrity of the leaderboards. Still, the update adds value even to players who don’t spend any actual money on the new power-ups, and it’s good to see a two year old game receive attention.
Fruit Ninja is a game so simple that it can be summed up in two words: chop fruit. Against a wooden backdrop, various kinds of fruit (and the occasional bomb) are tossed into the air. All you have to do is slide your finger across the screen to slice the fruit in half before it falls out of view. Three strikes and you’re out. Hit a bomb and you’re out. That’s it.
The more fruit you slice, the longer you stay around. The longer you survive, the higher your score. It’s a simple game that benefits from its simplicity. If you play it for 10 seconds, then you’ll know everything there is to know about Fruit Ninja. You’ll know it’s fun, and you’ll know you want to keep playing.
After accepting the game’s limited scope, our only complaint is that there’s no way to hike up the difficulty early on. As is, pro players will be bored for the first minute or so as the fruit-tossing kicks into gear. But that’s certainly not the end of the world. The OpenFeint leaderboards and accurate slice recognition more than make up for this shortcoming.
Even a simple game like this can pack in a few flourishes. Fruit makes a whooshing sound when it’s tossed up, and bombs emit a hiss, which gives just enough warning to keep players on their toes. Each type of fruit makes a different sound when cut (thud, thwack, squish), and the whole time in the background you’ll hear birds chirping and surf lapping at a beach. It almost makes you wish you could stay there forever.
So grab this game next time you’re waiting in line for something. We can assure you, it’ll slice the time in half.