Almost a decade ago, Fruit Ninja released on iOS devices. Alongside Doodle Jump and Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja was one of the first great touchscreen games that had people hooked and excited for the new generation of mobile games. Fast forward to 2019, and we now have Fruit Ninja VR, the same great fruit-slashing experience, playable in virtual reality on the Oculus Quest.
You have the three classic modes, which function the same way you’ve always remembered them, and one special mode. In case you haven’t played them before, here’s a brief summary: Classic mode has you cutting fruit and avoiding bombs, Arcade mode pits you against a timer to get the highest score with some wacky modifiers added to the mix, and Zen mode removes bombs to just let you slice your exotic breakfast in peace - well, actually, there's still a time limit, so "Zen" mode might be a misnomer.
The standout for me, however, is the Survival mode. Instead of the standard setup where fruit appears vertically in front of you, Survival mode fires the fruit directly at you. It starts with a single steampunk drone that hovers around before firing a volley of berries and citrus at you and moving to another spot. Not only is this a better use of VR as it includes another dimension, forcing you to adjust your stance and focus, but I found it was far easier to keep everything in view. Even though extra drones are added to the mix as you progress, the field of vision didn’t matter as much as the other three modes because they were generally grouped together better.
This was the mode that I kept coming back to, so much so that my highscore landed me in the top 30 on the global leaderboard. Even so, this mode has its own issues; namely, the drones sometimes get confused and can fire at ridiculous angles. A few times I had two of them fire simultaneous volleys at me, which seemed like a bug as one’s shot would be delayed by another drone’s flight. You also need a large playing space for Survival mode in particular, as the bots can fly in a full 180 degrees around you. If you don’t have room to turn and swing freely, this will be an issue.
The Quest version of Fruit Ninja VR also suffers from a low Field of View (FOV), something I didn’t really notice in other games. I haven’t seen this complaint before so it might be a Quest-exclusive issue, but I found it difficult to see everything I needed to at all times. This is exacerbated during Arcade mode’s Frenzy, where the fruit is flung at you from the sides, making it almost impossible to keep everything in view at once. You can guesstimate and swing your katana without looking, though, which usually garners most of the available points.
I also had a few times where turning my wrist during a swipe would result in me limply slapping a fruit away instead of slicing clean through it. Is this realistic of a sharpened katana? Maybe, but it felt like overkill for an arcade title like Fruit Ninja. It was especially noticeable when multiple fruit were on-screen at once, but didn’t line up in a clean row. You end up having to swing your arm in an arcing motion, and it’s disheartening to cut all but one fruit and be penalised for connecting with the final one at the wrong angle.
On the other hand, the sounds are incredible. Even with the Quest’s built-in audio, I was able to tell which direction to turn for incoming fruit. The clangs and swooshes of your blades also had me flourishing a little more than I needed to, finishing each flurry with a ceremonious “sheathing” like I was in a cheap samurai film. I didn’t care that I was being corny, Fruit Ninja VR gives you that "powerful swordsman" feeling and there’s a lot of room to have fun with it.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a particularly strong motivation to keep coming back to Fruit Ninja VR. It would have been nice to have some unlockables such as new blades or environments - the iOS version definitely implemented these, at some point - but you’ve currently only the bragging rights of a leaderboard to return to. Survival mode makes for a nice little workout, though, so if you’re using VR for fitness then the quick reactions and dodging required can be an entertaining way to stay in shape.