I am a ninja of fruit.
That's my tagline on Game Center and it is because Fruit Ninja may be my favorite mobile game of all time. Mechanically it is simple, games are short and the theme is easy to "grok" (or understand for you non-nerdy types). Fruit Ninja is almost as old as the App Store itself. Halfbrick Studios debuted the game on July 12, 2010 as one of the first "designed for iPad" games, and was quickly followed by an iPhone version later that year. If you have never played, read on - I think you are in for a treat.
So the basics. You are a ninja. You slice fruit while avoiding bombs. That's it.
Now a little more in depth. There are four basic modes in the game. "Classic" - which was the only way to play back in 2010 - is all about slashing fruit for points and avoiding bombs. Hit three bombs and you game is over. In "Arcade" you slash all the fruit you can in 60 seconds (still avoiding bombs which subtract time and score when hit). "Zen" mode is a laid back alternative version where you slash fruit for points in a 90 second window with no bombs to deal with. Finally, there is also multi-player mode (with friends on Game Center), where you go head-to-head while throwing bombs onto each other's board. My favorite mode is Arcade - I love the bananas that do crazy things when you hit them and the mode is just frenetic enough to be enjoyable without driving me crazy. There are achievements to unlock a-plenty; from the quirky (get a score of exactly 69) to the impossible high score kind. Many of the achievements are mode dependent, so if you are a "100 Percent-er", be prepared to slice a lot of fruit.
So what's changed in six years? There was some depth added to the game with a "leveling system" and "Missions" that you can complete. These give you a "goal" across games and helps minimize the continuous high score chase. Completing missions awards special in-game fruits that can be slashed for power-ups. Leveling unlocks blades and backgrounds, and these change gameplay in some small way as well, but not to the point that it ruins the fun. You can also choose to play with whatever blade and backgrounds you have unlocked, so any changes are far from mandatory. You can also buy power-ups with actual money, but its not really necessary as you can just grind in the game for more. Halfbrick has worked really hard to keep the game feeling modern (and presumably profitable), but at its "core", (ha) it's still just about slicing fruit. The game has aged well, and feels more contemporary and less monetized than other brands of that era (I'm looking at you Angry Birds). Thankfully Halfbrick abandoned their in-game currency of "star fruit", and we shall not speak of those dark days here.
Fruit Ninja helped define early gaming on the App Store, and it is still ridiculously addictive. Join the Sensei in the dojo and give it a try if you missed out on this one somehow. It is the first game I download on any device I buy. If you still haven't had enough Fruit Ninja here is a 47 minute documentary all about its history. It's actually pretty good....