You might be tempted to hold a grudge against Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots. It seems like a vaguely disturbing trend to match popular mobile games to upcoming movies, just because they have compatible premises, for purely promotional purposes. Two games is a trend, right?
But we all knew this was going to be good. It turns out that the license is actually a good thing, as the result is a version of Fruit Ninja with the addition of vocal encouragement from Antonio Banderas. Ah yes!
The other, less Boots-specific additions are delightful as well. Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots offers two modes. The first, Desperado, is the Fruit Ninja we're all familiar with: hacking away at oranges, apples, and even tomatoes until you either hit a bomb or let three fruit fall un-cleaved. There are new backgrounds from movie environments, and new, appropriate cosmetic upgrades, like the "cat claw" sword. But it's still Fruit Ninja's arcade mode.
The second mode, Bandito, is something new. It sort of feels like a mix of Fruit Ninja and WarioWare -- a series of challenges, all around 5 or 10 seconds long, that mix up the gameplay in interesting ways. You might have to cut fruit around a giant bouncing bomb, or as it comes down a conveyer belt, or as it flies across a latticework of bombs. You may have ten seconds to slice three coconuts, which require five hits each. My favorite game in this semi-randomized mode involves a winding trail of fruit, in which another apple (or whatever) pops up right next to the last one, forcing you to trace a meandering line across the screen as quickly as you can.
If you fail three of these rapid-fire challenges, you lose. But if you manage to complete twelve in a game, then you move on to the finale, in which you frantically hack away at a piñata to reveal the seemingly infinite number of smaller piñatas within.
I'd say the super-brief levels lend the game an even more ideal structure for portable play, as you can literally play for ten seconds at a time. But I haven't been able to start a Bandito Mode game without playing all the way through, thus nullifying the point I almost would have had.
If that doesn't sound irresistible enough, the title on the iPhone home screen shows up as "Fruit...aPuss."
Fruit Ninja: Puss in Boots is available on iTunes for $0.99 on iPhone, and for $1.99 on iPad. We're always looking for new distractions. Want to submit your game for Portabliss consideration? You can reach us at portabliss aat joystiq dawt com.