Not being particularly inspired this month, and vastly enjoying the game To-Fu, I thought perhaps I’d try for some sort of food-related feature. You know, games about meat and veg and nuts and candy and such. Weak, I know, and technically I don’t think tofu is really a food, so the whole idea was kind of doomed from the start.

(By the way, before I get too far away from talking about To-Fu, and I probably will, you should go grab it and the sequel. Fun stuff, took me a week or two to get through all 150 levels. Not straight, obviously. This isn’t my only job, you know.)

Anyway, while I was looking for free food on the App Store, I was not surprised to find the world-famous, industry-changing, genre-spawning Fruit Ninjaa gracing my plate. Having never actually played Fruit Ninja, I thought what the hey, and gave it a whirl.

And you know what? It was fine. No big surprise there. After all, genres aren’t usually spawned from garbage. Well, unless you count zombies, but I think that’s just me.

Out of interest (and still technically on the subject of food), I thought I’d see what sort of spawn a genre-spawner spawns. So while I was popping Fruit Ninja into my cart, I also pulled down Veggie Samurai, followed by Tropic Ninja, Pizza Fighter, Veggie Cut and Pixel Slice Plus. I washed it all down with Jewel Cut, and, because it seems I missed this one back in February, The Tossing Dead (yes, the malformed lovespawn of two genres).


What to slice: Apples, kiwi, melons, pineapples… pleasingly diverse.
What not to slice: Bombs.
Bonuses: Multi-slice, and the super-frenzy bonus slice pomegranate (I think it’s a pomegranate).
Brings to the table: Being first. Overall, it’s nice.

Veggie Samurai

What to slice: Onions, eggplants, corn, carrots, broccoli, etc.
What not to slice: Bottles of poison.
Bonuses: Multi-slice, super-frenzy mega veggie pepper slice, onion blossom, and thick cut fries.
Brings to the table: Dicing! Get up to three points per veg by slicing into quarters, get dice-chain bonuses. Also, 6 different game modes.
Better than Fruit Ninja? In my opinion, yes. Same game but improved.

Veggie Cut

What to slice: Carrots, beets, radishes, tomatoes (questionable if veggie), and watermelons (solidly not a veggie).
What not to slice: Bombs.
Bonuses: little +3s and +7s pop up all the time, but I can’t work out why I earned them.
Brings to the table: Nothing.
Better than Fruit Ninja? Doesn’t hold a candle.

Pizza Fighter

What to slice: Pizza.
What not to slice: Pop, or perhaps it’s Maalox.
Bonuses: Not sure if there are any. Probably for multi-slice.
Brings to the table: Builds on dicing; you can slice pizza into 8. They chuck whole pizzas, half pizzas and quarter pizzas at you, and you can slice them all down into eighths.
Better than Fruit Ninja? No way, falls far short. It’s glitchy, unappealing and abrupt.

Tropic Ninja

What to slice: Tropical fruit (so it’s different, you see).
What not to slice: Hang on, this is by the same people who did Veggie Cut, they just swapped out their veg art for fruit art and changed the name on the menu. They didn’t even change the bomb art. They’re flooding their own market. Don’t get this one either.
Brings to the table: Nothing.
Better than Fruit Ninja? No.

Pixel Slice Plus

What to slice: 8-bit groceries, anything from Popsicles to milk to washing powder.
What not to slice: Er, I think you slice everything. There don’t seem to be any hazards.
Bonuses: If you slice more than one, you get a COMBO flash up, but I don’t know what it gets you.
Brings to the table: An abysmally bad menu, and the promise of other game modes if you can be bothered to play Timed mode 60 times.
Better than Fruit Ninja? No.

The Tossing Dead

What to slice: Zombies (and, if that’s not enough, zombie rats).
What not to slice: Pipebombs.
Bonuses: Multi-slice Massacres +3, Eradication +4, and Slaughterhouse +5.
Brings to the table: Guns… Most of the time you’re slashing away with a hedge trimmer, but occasionally a gun flies by. Sadly, compared to the trimmer, the gun is more frustratingly slow to reload, and usually ends up being your downfall. Unless I’m doing it wrong.
Better than Fruit Ninja? No, but different enough to warrant a second glance for a bit of a giggle. Certainly not anything you’d play obsessively though. Also: bonus points for a great title.

Jewel Cut

What to slice: Jewels.
What not to slice: Nothing, it’s all jewels.
Bonuses: Number of jewels in a row.
Brings to the table: Slight twist on the play… Some bi-coloured jewels have a specified split down the middle, and rather than the frenzied squiggly lunge you’re used to, these require precise directional flicks down the seam. It also chucks jewels in from the top AND bottom for a bit of spacey vertigo, and the design sports a weird retro future-of-the-80s feel (though I think it may be unintentional).
Better than Fruit Ninja? Nah, but far enough to one side to be worth a non-comparative look. I think if you’re the sort who likes Bejeweled you might go for this, but if you’re the sort who likes Bejeweled you probably stopped reading when I started talking about zombies and went to play Bejeweled.

As far as I’m concerned, here’s the thing to remember about genres… You’ve really only got two chances to make it big.

Chance number one: Be first. New technology breeds new ways of using it – the mouse, the Wii controller, the Kinect, the touchpad – and if you’re the first to come along with a funky new spin on the whole thing that’s easy and fun, then you win. Ergo, Fruit Ninja wins.

Chance number two: Be significantly better than the first. Take what was done the first time, look at all the 4-star user comments that say ‘Good, but would have kicked ass with a [function it’s sorely lacking].’ Add that function to yours, and all the other suitable enhancements, and make the whole package smoother and sexier than the original. Veggie Samurai, though it is so much a blatant knock-off (not least the title) it’s laughable, also wins.

Fruit Ninja’s good, Veggie Samurai’s better, but there’s definitely room for two.

And as a final note to everyone else who tried out: I did not say ‘as smooth and as sexy’, I said ‘smoother and sexier’. If you’re simply on par, you might as well not have bothered. And if you can’t compete (and exceed) on every level, stay home. While I assume it must be heartbreaking to spend three months making a knock-off game, only to find out it falls well short of the original, please be honest with yourself.

Otherwise, like a salad at a barbecue, you’re just taking up space on the table.