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Fruit Ninja: Combo Party

An adaptation of a popular mobile game from 2010, Fruit Ninja: Combo Party combines card drafting, with speed, memory, and some elements of push your luck.

From colorful artwork to a fun katana handle set piece, the game is enjoyable to look at, but how does it play?

Gameplay

The round, wooden katana handle is placed in the middle of the table, each player is dealt twelve cards, and the game begins.

Each player selects one card from their hand and all cards are revealed simultaneously. This is the start of each player’s combo. Next, you pass the remaining cards to the player on your left and take the hand from the player on your right. Once again, players each choose a card from their current hand, they’re revealed simultaneously, you add your card to your current combo, and then pass your hand to the player on your left. At any time, after adding a card to your combo, but before passing your hand to the next player, you may choose to end your combo, score it, and discard it. The next card you draft from your hand will start a new combo.

If two or more players ever select the same fruit type on a turn, they must race to grab the katana. The player who grabs it first gets to draw a reward card (these are worth points at the end of the game).

You can create two different kinds of combos. One can have all the same kind of fruit, and the other can have all different fruits. Sometimes, as the cards you have to choose from become fewer, you will be forced to select a card that does not fit with the current combo you are building. In this case, the card is discarded and the combo is immediately scored.

When scoring a combo, you earn two point tokens of a value determined by the number of cards in the combo. If you chose to score the combo, you also draw a certain number of reward cards. If you were forced to score it because of a card that did not fit into the combo, you do not get any reward cards.

Once each hand of cards only has two cards remaining, you select one and discard the other. A new round then begins, with each player being dealt a fresh hand of twelve cards. When you pass the cards, you will now pass them to the right. After two to four rounds (as chosen by the players) the game ends, and the player with the most points wins.

Fruit Ninja: Combo Party Components

Review

The Fruit Ninja mobile game is certainly enjoyable, but the gameplay of swiping fruit doesn't translate well to a tabletop game. However, Lucky Duck Games was able to replicate the bright colors, the juicy looking fruit, and the need for speed.

While the card drafting is the central focus of the game, the need to constantly be on the alert, always ready to grab for the katana, keeps you watchful and the game exciting. The reward cards are also a nice way to award points. It keeps players in the game who are slower and more focused on creating their combos, while still giving you a reason to race for that katana.

You’re also trying to remember the cards in each hand so you know when to score your combo and when to hang on for a few more cards. And sometimes, you just can’t remember and you have decide whether to gamble that something you need will be in the next hand. You can also select cards as a way to block other players.

The scoring didn’t feel entirely balanced, as we found that the combos requiring unique fruit were significantly easier to make larger combos than trying to collect several of the same type of fruit, but they both score the same.

Fruit Ninja: Combo Party doesn’t do anything really new, but its mechanics come together in a neat game that’s both fun and easy to teach. Not every game needs to be big and new. Some of them can just enjoyable, and that’s exactly what Fruit Ninja: Combo Party is. Everything comes together nicely and results in a simple yet engaging card game.

Pros: Mechanics come together nicely, nice and attractive components

Cons: Scoring feels a little imbalanced

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.