What is it about the smartphone screen that makes crushing candy, launching varicolored birds at pig palisades, or fracturing fruit with ninja moves so entrancing? While this is perhaps an unsolvable or uninteresting mystery, it is the premise of this entrancing quality upon which Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride is entirely built. The volume, which collects a variety of stand-alone comic strips about two fruit ninja dojos—one ancient and one modern—as well as strips about the mishaps of a jetpack-propelled character named Barry, is based on two games by Australian video game developer Halfbrick.
More specifically, Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride is based on the YouTube Red series Fruit Ninja: Frenzy Force, the game Jetpack Joyride, and the Fruit Ninja update game Gutsu’s Cart. The YouTube series introduces the dojo of fruit-slashing characters Seb, Niya, Peng, and Ralph, as well as their ancient counterparts Katsuro, Mari, Han, and Nobu, all of whom appear in Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride in addition to characters from Jetpack Joyride and Gutsu’s Cart. The characters are expressively drawn in bright colors but, beyond this, characterization is spare: the focus here is cartoonish gags, slapstick humor, and fruit-related puns as opposed to plot and character development. While there are more fully-realized character profiles included at the back of the book, they come off as a last-ditch, un-integrated effort to flesh out flat characters.
Because the book is a series of one-off cartoons rather than a unified narrative, it is perhaps inherently a little choppy. Still, nothing is done to ameliorate the whiplash of jumping from a Truffles (of Gutsu’s Cart) story to a Jetpack Joyride story, or from the ancient dojo to the modern dojo. There again, continuity and restraint are simply not the interests of this book. The stories themselves often float between the fantastical and the absurd: in one, for instance, Barry of Jetpack Joyride destroys an ocean-to-hairball conversion factory. In another, the fruit ninjas accidentally receive too many dates in their fruit stand’s delivery before one of the characters, besotted, ends up going on a date with a cowboy. Dates—date—get it? This is very much the framework within which Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride is operating, and all at breakneck speed.
Young fans of Halfbrick’s video games and YouTube Red show might enjoy reading this book exactly for its derivative quality, but that’s about the extent of what they’ll find here.
Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride
by Nate Cosby
Art by Scott Brown Ruairi Sebastian Piriz
Publisher Age Rating: All Ages