Theme and What is it?
Fruit Ninja: Combo Party is a tabletop adaptation of the app Fruit Ninja. In the app, you learned to slice fruits, but in the tabletop game, you attempt to become the Master of Combos! Develop your fruit combos and your lightning-fast reflexes to please the Honorable Sensei and win the game.
In Fruit Ninja: Combo Party, players are given a hand of 12 cards. Players select a card, place it face-down, then all simultaneously flip them face-up. If two players play the same fruit, each must try to grab the Katana (the wooden totem) first for an extra Reward card! Each player’s hand of cards is then passed around the table, so you’re never entirely certain what will be coming your way.
When selecting a card to play, you’re either trying to get a Unique Fruit Combo (multiple of the same fruit) or a Multi Fruit Combo (multiple different fruits). The more cards you get in your combo, the bigger the reward! Rewards come as both Golden Apple victory tokens and Reward Cards, which provide a boost of one to three Golden Apple victory points per card.
Press your luck and see if you can get the elusive six-card combo, or play it safe and stick with smaller, more frequent scoring of your combos. The six-card combo pays off big-time, but can be VERY tricky to achieve!
I have played the Fruit Ninja game on my phone before, so I was familiar with the brand, but I had no idea how they were going to turn it into a tabletop game, let alone a FUN one! I expected that it would be a good family game (and it was) but I was a little nervous to see how a video game would convert into something with physical pieces and cards.
Game Build Quality
The cards are fairly standard size and thickness, with a nice glossy feel. The Katana is a wonderfully weighty wooden piece that’s sure to stand up to my nine-year-old grabbing for it — repeatedly. I love that it comes with a cute little scorepad. The instructions are very well written, so it was really easy to pick up the game and play, without devoting a whole lot of time to rules reading.
The illustrators took many elements from the video game as a basis for the art in this tabletop version. It’s colorful, kid-friendly, with Asian accents to complement the ninja theme. I think the artistic vibes of the game could have been carried a bit further into the components though. The Katana, for example, is made of wood, but I think it would be a more artistic choice to make it out of bamboo, and a more sustainable choice as well.
We laughed a lot while playing this game. For the most part, we were relaxed, sharing some M&Ms, and enjoying a nice before-bed game while the baby slept. It was nice and casual and a great way to wind down the evening.
There were, however, some tense moments when my husband was being way too quick with the reflexes and my son and I were getting frustrated. We ended up putting a two-second handicap on my husband so that the nine-year-old had a fair shot. You also have to be wary of card-counters (looking at you, Cute Husband) that have an unfair advantage.
Age Range & Weight
Fruit Ninja: Combo Party is a really light, friendly game that’s great for families. No literacy skills are necessary, so late preschoolers could play, with a little assistance tallying their points at the end. The younger the players are, though, the more I would recommend the adults and older children at the table pause a second before grabbing the Katana, just to avoid frustration from the little minds that take a bit longer to process stuff. The box says the game is for children ages eight and up, but children younger than that can definitely play with ease. Just make sure that the Katana is within easy reach of all players, and things should go pretty smoothly.
Like I said earlier, I really wasn’t sure how this video game to tabletop version would pan out. Luckily, the box did not come complete with a set of samurai swords, and there was no actual slicing involved. They did turn Fruit Ninja into a wonderful little game that’s good for warming up board game parties, for family game nights, and for easing new people into the boardgaming hobby.
I’d really like the Katana to have been made of bamboo, or at least shaped like bamboo, but I think I can get over that. Related to the Katana: I really liked how the game designers kept dexterity involved in this tabletop version like it was in the video game. I thought that was an important factor to consider, and I was glad to see they found a way to keep it.
I also really appreciate when game designers keep length in mind when developing games intended for children and families. Children and lengthy games do not go hand in hand. The box advertises that this game takes 20 minutes. Our first game took closer to 30 or 40 minutes, but we were all still getting used to the flow of play and some people in my family (looking at you again, Cute Husband) take an hour to decide anything. I’m pretty sure our next game will go more quickly. This is a great game to play while dinner’s in the oven, in that odd interlude between getting off the school bus and starting homework, and before bed, when the kids need something to do that doesn’t involve a screen.
Lucky Duck Games has done a wonderful job with Fruit Ninja: Combo Party, and I can’t wait to see what they come out with next!