Today developer Halfbrick Studios unleashed the newest update to its wildly popular fruit slicing game Fruit Ninja [99¢]. In version 1.4 a brand new multiplayer mode allows you to square off against players online using Apple's Game Center. Upon starting a game, a new option for multiplayer can be chosen which takes you to the Game Center online lobby. From here you can choose to start a new game which will match you up with a random player or you can pick a friend from your Game Center friend list to send them out a request to join a game. As with other Game Center online multiplayer games, matching up is simple, quick, and basically lag-free.
The Fruit Ninja multiplayer mode is also really simple to understand. A series of fruits are tossed up just like they are in a normal game. All of the fruit either have a red, white, or blue border. The blue fruit are your own, and you will gain points including bonuses for combos by slicing them. The red fruit are your opponent's, and if you accidentally slice them it will deduct points from your score. The white fruit are fair game for either party and if you can slice them before your opponent does you'll earn some bonus points for your score. Multiplayer rounds last for one minute, and whoever has the highest score at the end wins. When the round is over you're taken to a post-game lobby where you can choose to rematch against the same opponent or quit back to the menu. It really is very simple but also a tremendous amount of fun. Things get hectic with so much fruit flying around and trying to slice your own while avoiding your opponents.
The Game Center online multiplayer is pretty much all that is in the Fruit Ninja version 1.4 update, but Halfbrick is planning on bringing even more new features soon. Leaderboards and achievements will be added for Game Center, and according to one of the devs in our forums so will post-game lobby voice chat. Halfbrick also hints that the long-awaited "banana mode" is nearing completion and should be made available in the near future. Another interesting point is that the new Game Center functionality runs in tandem with the existing OpenFeint integration. So upon starting the game you'll get a welcome pop-up from each service, and all of the OpenFeint options are still available from the menu just as they were before. Conceivably, you could disable one or the other and just use a single social service, but the online multiplayer only works with Game Center enabled.
At any rate, this new update to Fruit Ninja is a ton of fun, and I've been pleasantly surprised with how well Game Center multiplayer works and how much it can add to a game. If you own a copy of Fruit Ninja for your iPhone, make sure and grab this latest update and head over to the Game Center username trading thread in our forums to add some friends to your list and partake in some competitive online fruit slicing.
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