Fruit Ninja Frenzy might be the best way to play Fruit Ninja to date

I’ve faced off against watermelons on the iPhone. I’ve fought duels to the death with oranges and pineapples on the Xbox 360. They have all shuddered at the sight of my juice-dripping blade. And now, at last, I’ve followed the path of the Fruit Ninja against the seeded hordes on the plains of Facebook, and I have walked away content. Fruit Ninja Frenzy may not bring much new to the chopping block, but its combination of the best aspects of the standard game with the trappings of Bejeweled Blitz make this a title worth noticing.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a fruit bowl for the last year and a half (or still haven’t gotten over your Angry Birds addiction), you likely know what to expect here. At its core, Fruit Ninja is about nothing more than swiping your cursor in an attempt to slice fruits in two as they fly across the screen. You can gain more points by slicing through multiple pieces at once, and you can strike special bananas for bonuses such as point multipliers and slower fruit movement. Occasionally bombs will pop up as well, which will deduct points from your score if you strike them and cause a brief but significant lull in the gameplay. In the end, your goal is no more complex than scoring higher than your friends.

Fruit Ninja Frenzy

Fruit Ninja Frenzy is basically the “Arcade” version of the original, complete with weekly leaderboards a la Bejeweled Blitz and “Smoothies” that provide up to three powerups for each 60-second match. And there’s a lot of powerups to choose from. “Spirit Bombs,” to name but one, effectively remove bombs from the game, and “Extra Time” tacks on seven extra seconds once the timer runs out. Some of these are even holiday themed, depending on which holiday is around the corner. At the time of writing, for example, players could buy a “Bat Blast” powerup that blasts nearby pieces of fruit when you strike another one. If there’s a drawback, it’s that you can only use one powerup slot at first, but Fruit Ninja Frenzy provides a couple of ways to unlock the other two slots.

You could, of course, just pay for them with Facebook credits (or starfruit, as Halfbrick calls the game’s premium virtual currency). At 200 and 400 credits respectively, unlocking both slots will cost you a couple of bucks. If you don’t want to fork out real cash, however, you can also earn starfruit by accomplishing some of the game’s many achievements and cashing in the “Juice” you earn each round. Most are simple (such as avoiding all strawberries during a round) and completing a tier of achievements will net you around 60 starfruit.

Fruit Ninja Frenzy

It’s hard not to be impressed by the game’s presentation values. Fruit Ninja Frenzy features the game’s famed responsive controls, and you’ll be best served if you play the game with a mouse instead of a touchpad. Some systems do sputter a bit while playing the game, but you can remedy this by simply turning down your settings (and, indeed, the game will prompt you to do so if it thinks you need it). You’re not even stuck with the same visual appearance as is the case with so many other games. Depending on your level or how many achievements you earn, you can alter the background for each match or choose from a wide variety of different blades.

Fruit Ninja Frenzy is a fine example of one of those celebrated casual games that actually gets better when you play it in a restricted 60-mode, especially since it allows you to see how well you do against your friends. The Bejeweled Blitz format suits it well. I have to admit that I’ve barely even played the regular version of Bejeweled after falling so deeply in love with Bejeweled Blitz, and I expect that Fruit Ninja Frenzy will affect me in much the same way. The path of the Fruit Ninja isn’t so long and arduous (although it’s probably more than a little messy), and its many awards outweigh its almost non-existent flaws.