Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots brings a world of challenge to the Fruit Ninja experience

There was a time, not so long ago, that a game based on a movie license was something you’d want to steer clear of. And games based on kids movies? Doubly so. But then, earlier this year, film studios’ got the bright idea to pair up with top iOS developers to release games based on their movies that took advantage of existing mobile gaming franchises. Rovio and 20th Century Fox teamed up for the fantastic Angry Birds Rio, Lima Sky and Universal Pictures put together the Easter-themed Doodle Jump Hop, and now, Dreamworks have jumped into the mix with Halfbrick to release Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots.

What really surprised us about the earlier movie/game pairings was that, rather than simply cashing in on an existing franchise, the developers took it as an opportunity to evolve the gameplay. I’m delighted to report that Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots is no different.

At its core, Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots offers the same gameplay that Fruit Ninja veterans know and love. Fruit is still tossed into the sky alongside some hazardous bombs, and players will slice and dice with a quick swipe of their finger. In fact, the game is so similar to the original offering that one of its two modes is pretty much a cut and paste of the Fruit Ninja‘s classic mode.

Well, maybe “cut and paste” isn’t exactly a fair assessment. In Desperado Mode, you’ll still play endlessly until you miss three fruit or hit a bomb, but this time it’s presented with a Puss in Boots flavor. The sound of Spanish guitar fills your ears, as does the voice work of Antonio Banderas (or a convincing imitator). They’ve also added in “magic beans,” which, when sliced, will replace one of the health points you lost by missing a fruit. And unlockables like new blades and backgrounds? There’s a definite movie influence there too.

Small tweaks aside though, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing new to get excited about. The real draw for veterans of Fruit Ninja is in Puss in Boots other mode, Bandito – a series of challenges that changes every time you play it.

Bandito provides something of a campaign feeling to this otherwise arcadey app, providing players with three acts and a finale to work towards, with each act containing four stages. The stages are selected randomly and get progressively more difficult as you advance through the acts. Sometimes you’ll need to slice 15 lemons with fruit and bombs hiding behind different doors. Sometimes you’ll slice one fruit at a time, as the bombs on the screen turn to fruit after a preceding fruit has been sliced. Sometimes you’ll be faced with contraptions and strange layouts that will direct the fruit in different directions, making it more of a challenge to not swipe a bomb. The variety here is tremendous.

 Puss in Boots

 Puss in Boots

More important than that, though, it’s just really really fun. With each stage lasting only a few seconds, you’ll be bouncing from one thing to another and back again before you know it. If you’ve ever played a WarioWare game, you’ll be familiar with this frenzied feeling.

The only real downside to the package is that there are only two modes to play. The Zen, Arcade, and Multiplayer modes that have proven so popular in the original Fruit Ninja just didn’t make the cut in this pseudo-sequel.

On the one hand, I’m a little disappointed to see that not every mode from Fruit Ninja has made its way into Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots. On the other, though, there’s a part of me that would have happily paid for Bandito mode as a standalone game. It’s just that much fun. They could have dropped the movie license, called it Fruit Ninja Challenges, and it would be just as entertaining – even without the rehashed classic mode. Adding in the kitty-centric unlockables and a cool Spanish twang? That’s just icing on the cake.