Late last week Halfbrick officially released its early access version of Fruit Ninja VR. Over the weekend I had the time to fully get to know the game. The big question is how well the traditionally mobile game experience translates into the realm of VR, and whether it’s worth your money.
Let’s dive in and find out, shall we?
For those that have played the standard Fruit Ninja, you’ll find the experience here is very familiar. Doubly so if you ever tried Fruit Ninja for the Xbox Kinect. Sure, the addition of 360 viewing gives it a whole new depth (literally), but the goal is still the same as ever: to slash away at fruit.
The game currently is available only for the Vive, but will be coming to other platforms including Daydream and the Rift in the future. The game uses accurate 1:1 motion tracking and I never ran into any issues with the game. The VR version is still a work in progress and will continue to add more content as time progresses, though in its current mode it already offers three game modes: Classic, Arcade, and Zen.
In classic mode you slash away at fruit, with the goal to never miss a fruit or hit a bomb. If you hit said bomb, you lose. If you miss out on slashing three fruits, you lose.
Arcade mode has you slice and stab at fruit within a time limit, all while avoiding bombs. Hitting those bombs will take away from the allotted time limit. There’s also special fruit that give you unique powers like slowing down time.
Finally, there’s zen mode. This mode removes bombs and let’s you purely focus on cutting up as much fruit as you can, within a certain time limit. This is certainly the most relaxed of the three modes.
Sounds pretty familiar, I know. But what about the VR side of things? How does this differ? Probably the biggest difference is you have a sword in each hand this time around. You can also stab at fruits and stack them up. And of course the added depth allows you to move in on the fruits in ways that just isn’t possible with the 2D experience.
Visually, the game is obviously more striking than the mobile version, as you no longer are looking at just a cutting board (or whatever that wood background is in the mobile variant). Instead you are in what I presume is a dojo where you master feels throwing fruit and bombs at you is the best training method.
Mechanic wise, stabbing is about the only thing new that VR brings, aside from the ability to move in closer to fruit as it flies to you. There’s very little need to do things like jump, duck, etc — and really you probably could play the game without doing much more movement than moving side to side and swinging your arms.
So in the end, this is just Fruit Ninja, in 360-degrees. Still, thanks to the brand recognition and the “so simple anyone can do it” style of the game, Fruit Ninja VR is easily recommendable as a great choice for those who are looking for “the showcase game” to let friends who are new to VR try it out. Especially if these friends are more of the casual gaming type.
Another big deal about the VR experience is that Halfbrick made a fast paced action experience that still plays very smoothly, and is virtually free of any “VR sickness” issues. I’m personally not super easily susceptible to this VR illness anyhow, but even my family members and friends tried it out and had no problems whatsoever. When you are demoing VR, you want the newcomers to have a memorable experience with no side effects, and so that is a big plus for Fruit Ninja VR.
I’ve heard a lot of praise for Fruit Ninja VR, both from other websites and from my own “VR newbie” friends and family members that I let try it out. As someone who has played a bit over a dozen VR games so far, I’ll admit I don’t find myself compelled to play it outside of the initial few hours I spent getting to know it. If I’m looking for that arcade style “score based” experience, I think I’d rather spend some time in Space Pirate Trainer personally.
At the end of the day though, Fruit Ninja is a franchise many know and it makes for a great VR ice breaker. It’s also a lot of fun, just don’t expect yourself to sink dozens of hours into it, unless you REALLY like Fruit Ninja. It’ll probably be a game you play once in awhile when you have some time to kill, and it’ll be a game that gets better over the months to come, thanks to its early access status.
The one thing I can say is that I feel the early access price of $11.99 (final price will be $15) seems a tad pricey for what is basically just a VR imagining of a casual VR game. Personally I feel that this should have been a $10~ game. Then again, I realize that developing for VR isn’t necessarily easy and I applaud Halfbrick for developing an experience that stays true to the series while doing a good job of translating everything over to VR.