E3 2011: Fruit Ninja Frenzy takes a slice out of Facebook this summer
At this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, we had a chance to go hands-on with Halfbrick's upcoming port of the popular iOS game Fruit Ninja - Fruit Ninja Frenzy - on Facebook. As of this writing, you can Like of the game's official fan page, and you can "play" an incredibly short version of the game, slicing one single fruit just to see what the mechanic would look like (you hold down the left mouse button and then slice just as you would when drawing your finger across a touch screen).
For this E3 demo, however, we got to take a look at a fairly final version of the game, which is more comparable to Bejeweled Blitz and other one-minute games than anything else. In Fruit Ninja Frenzy, the same basic gameplay from the mobile version has been retained, but has been chopped (no pun intended) into 60-seconds of bite sized fruity goodness. Your goal is still to slice as many pieces of fruit as you can in the 60 seconds to earn points. You'll earn combo points for slicing multiple fruit at once, and you'll need to what out for bombs that will remove points from your score.
While all of that remains the same, the Facebook elements here give you an overall profile and score. Sure, each game has an individual score, which allows you to climb your leaderboard of friends that have posted scores, but you'll also earn a tenth of your points as Juice, a new currency in the game (that is, if you scored 100 points, you'd receive 10 Juice). Another currency, Starfruit, allows you to unlock Smoothies, which are power-ups that can be activated before each run at the game.
This power-up system will be familiar to Bejeweled Blitz fans, as they allow you to make bombs harmless (they'll show up as dimmed outlines and can't be sliced), add more time to your clock and so on. You'll start with only one power-up slot free, but can eventually expand to three by spending more Starfruit, which can be earned through simply playing the game or purchasing it outright.
For iOS fans, the game will connect to the iOS version, just as the way Bejeweled Blitz works on iPhone. The Frenzy gameplay will be available in the palm of your hand, and if you happen to beat your high score posted on Facebook, it will be updated via this cross-platform support. Additionally, just as with the iOS version(s) of the game, you'll be able to unlock achievements, blades and other unlockables on Facebook, giving you an incentive to keep going (as if you really needed any extra persuasion).
Does Fruit Ninja Frenzy break the mold when it comes to 60-second gameplay on Facebook? Not really, but it doesn't have to. The game has become so iconic to mobile players, and the gameplay was incredibly smooth here, making for a seamless transition. I can't wait to be able to spend five minutes (or more, let's face it) here and there slicing and dicing my way through fruit to earn bragging rights among friends.