“The full impact of fruit destruction”: How Halfbrick cultivated Super Fruit Ninja on Apple Vision Pro

Fruit Ninja has a juicy history that stretches back more than a decade, but Samantha Turner, lead gameplay programmer at the game’s Halfbrick Studios, says the Apple Vision Pro version — Super Fruit Ninja on Apple Arcade — is truly bananas. “When it first came out, Fruit Ninja kind of gave new life to the touchscreen,” she notes, “and I think we have the potential to do something very special here.”

What if players could squeeze juice out of an orange? What if they could rip apart a watermelon and cover the table and walls with juice?

Samantha Turner, lead gameplay programmer at Halfbrick Studios

Turner would know. She’s worked on the Fruit Ninja franchise for nearly a decade, which makes her especially well suited to help grow the game on a new platform. “We needed to understand how to bring those traditional 2D user interfaces into the 3D space,” she says. “We were full of ideas: What if players could squeeze juice out of an orange? What if they could rip apart a watermelon and cover the table and walls with juice?” She laughs, on a roll. “We were really playing with the environment.”

But they also needed to get people into that environment. “That’s where we came up with the flying menu,” she says, referring to the old-timey home screen that’ll feel familiar to Fruit Ninja fans, except for how it hovers in space. “We wanted a friendly and welcoming way to bring people into the immersive space,” explains Turner. “Before we landed on the menu, we were doing things like generating 3D text to put on virtual objects. But that didn’t give us the creative freedom we needed to set the theme for our world.”

That theme: The good citizens of Fruitasia have discovered a portal to our world — one that magically materializes in the room. “Sensei steps right through the portal,” says Turner, “and you can peek back into their world too.”

Next, Turner and Halfbrick set about creating a satisfying — and splashy — way for people to interact with their space. The main question: What’s the most logical way to launch fruit at people?

“We started with, OK, you have a couple meters square in front of you. What will the playspace look like? What if there’s a chair or a table in the way? How do we work around different scenarios for people in their office or living room or kitchen?” To find their answers, Halfbrick built RealityKit prototypes. “Just being able to see those really opened up the possibilities.” The answer? A set of cannons, arranged in a semicircle at the optimal distance for efficient slashing.

Instead of holding blades, you simply use your hands.

Samantha Turner, lead gameplay programmer at Halfbrick Studios

It also let them move onto the question of how players can carve up a bunch of airborne bananas in a 3D space. The team experimented with a variety of hand motions, but none felt as satisfying as the final result. “Instead of holding blades, you simply use your hands,” she says. “You become the weapon.”

And you’re a powerful weapon. Slice and dice pineapples and watermelons by jabbing with your hands. Send bombs away by pushing them to a far wall, where they harmlessly explode at a distance. Fire shuriken into floating fruit by brushing your palms in an outward direction — a motion Turner particularly likes. “It’s satisfying to see it up close, but when you see it happen far away, you get the full impact of fruit destruction,” she laughs. All were results of hand gesture explorations.

“We always knew hands would be the center of the experience,” she says. “We wanted players to be able to grab things and knock them away. And we can tailor the arc of the fruit to make sure it’s a comfortable fruit-slicing experience — we’re actually using the vertical position of the device itself to make sure that we’re not throwing fruit over your head or too low.”

The result is the most immersive — and possibly most entertaining — Fruit Ninja to date, not just for players but for the creators. “Honestly,” Turner says, “this version is one of my favorites.”

“The full impact of fruit destruction”: How Halfbrick cultivated Super Fruit Ninja on Apple Vision Pro
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