Bored at a commercial break, I take out my phone, and the next thing I know I am slicing apples, oranges, pears, and the all-important bananas. I am playing my favorite casual game, Fruit Ninja. Over the years my interest in this game has come and gone; however, with this assignment I plan to take a critical look at some of the characteristics of Fruit Ninja that make it a casual game.
According to the chapter “What is Casual?” by Jesper Juul that we read for class, Fruit Ninja meets all five of the specifications for a casual game, it is fictitious, easy to use, it has interruptibility, there is a low amount of punishment, and it is highly juicy. In this blogpost I want to specifically address the punishment and juiciness aspects of the game. Fruit Ninja has three modes, and each has a varying level of punishment. In “Zen” mode there is absolutely no punishment, fruit simply flies up for ninety seconds before the game terminates. In “Arcade” mode there is slightly more punishment; in addition to the fruit there are now bombs, which if hit will lower a player’s score by ten points and will remove any blitz that the player currently has. In the grand scheme of the game, a ten-point reduction is very small, and the blitz can easily be re-earned by slicing more combos. Even in this mode it does not appear that the punishment is overwhelmingly harsh. The final mode, “Classic,” has the strictest punishment. In this mode there is no time limit, instead the player slices fruit until he or she drops three fruit (after every 100 points one drop is erased) or until a bomb is hit. This is clearly the most severe punishment in the game, as a single errant slice could end an entire game. However, the difficulty level, especially in the early stages, makes the game very accessible to players of all abilities.
This picture shows the minus 10 points from hitting a bomb in “Arcade” mode
Finally, I want to talk about the juiciness of the game. As one might expect when violently slicing all types of fruit juice flies on to the screen. More to what Juul discusses in the aforementioned chapter, there is almost endless positive feedback, both visually and audibly. For example, when a player gets a combo a graphic pops up that tells the player about the combo, along with a special noise that only accompanies combos. In “Arcade” mode, the juiciest of all the modes, a player is capable of getting combo blitzes when he or she gets a certain amount of combos in a certain time period. A blitz is accompanied by a special light in the background of the dojo, which acts as a reinforcer for the player. In addition to the lights in the background, every blitz is accompanied by what sounds like an “ahh” from the crowd. Juiciness is one of the hallmarks of a casual game, and Fruit Ninja, at its core, is full of juice.
This picture shows the background yellow lines along with multiple examples of positive reinforcement from the previous slice
Source: Let’s Make Juice