Updated: Dec 26, 2019
Based on the popular video game developed by Halfbrick, this is a card game that is Lucky Duck’s take on the franchise. It has the look and theme of the original video game but play is, in the main, less physical (the video game involves swiping fingers across a smartphone screen to slice various combinations of fruit).
In this card-based version designed by Julien Vergonjeanne with art by Mateusz Komada and Katarzyna Kosobucka, players are each dealt 12 cards depicting sliced fruit. There are six varieties of fruit in the game, and 12 copies of each card. Players select a card and lay it face down. Cards are then revealed simultaneously and if any two or more are the same, a bonus points card is awarded to the player who is first to grab the ‘katana’ sword hilt that has been placed in the centre of the table. This ‘snap’ element injects adrenaline into the game play but it can also engender cheating, as you may find players deliberately slowing their own card flip to gain a miniscule but nonetheless advantageous edge. For this reason you may prefer to require players to hold out their cards rather than flipping them from a facedown position on the table.
Snap element aside, the main game involves players adding the card they’ve selected to the ‘combo’ they have been building up. Players can each only have one ‘combo’ pile on the go at any one time: either a multi-fruit combo, where the fruit are all different, or a unique fruit combo, where all the fruit are the same. As you’d expect, players will score notably more for their combo the larger it is (up to a maximum of six cards) but the larger it gets the more they will be pushing their luck in being able to add to their combo on their next turn. Players can at any point choose to cash in and score their combo, allowing them to start a fresh combo on their next turn.
After players add to and/or score their combo, they pass their hand of cards on so that their next card has to be drafted from a different hand. The game plays with three to six but, particularly with fewer players, there’s a strong memory element as you try to recall what fruits were in the hand you previously passed on and what you can expect to receive when the hand works its way back to you.
Fruit Ninja: Combo Party is a light fun family game that can be played on equal terms by adults and children. It’s at its best when played briskly, though negative penalty point tokens are available to calm things down if players get a tad too frisky and jump the gun grabbing the katana. Think of the game as a tasty dessert course to follow a round of two of Sushi Go (Gamewright).