Apple Vision Pro spatial gaming — Super Fruit Ninja developer Halfbrick Studios details how players become the weapon in its new Apple Arcade title

Super Fruit Ninja screenshot
(Image credit: Apple/Halfbrick Studios)

Apple's Vision Pro headset will finally go on sale on February 2 which means that people across the United States will be able to put Apple's vision for spatial computing to the test for the first time. There will be plenty of apps preinstalled for them to try, not to mention an App Store with apps available as well. But there's one category of apps that will be of particular interest to some people.

That category is of course games, with Apple having already hinted that gamers can look forward to all-new experiences in an AR/VR world. As part of that the company has detailed one of the apps that new Vision Pro owners can look forward to in the form of Super Fruit Ninja from developer Halfbrick Studios.

Fruit Ninja has of course been a big hit on iPads around the world for years now, and being able to swipe across melons on-screen and watch them explode in a sea of juices never gets old. But with Vision Pro almost here, the Halfbrick Studios has been looking at how it can use the headset, its dual 4K displays, and its array of sensors and cameras to create a new type of Fruit Ninja experience.

A fruit explosion

The story of how Halfbrick Studios reworked Fruit Ninja for the Vision Pro headset has been detailed in a post on the Apple developer website with Samantha Turner, lead gameplay programmer at the game’s Halfbrick Studios, explaining the developer's vision.

“We needed to understand how to bring [Fruit Ninja's] traditional 2D user interfaces into the 3D space,” Turner explains. “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?” Turner goes on to say that the Super Fruit Ninja team was "playing with the environment" to see what stuck.

Keen to make sure that the game didn't go too gimmicky while breaking interactivity, Turner says that Halfbrick settled on a floating menu that would feel familiar but also updated to fit with the new experiences Vision Pro offered. “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,” she explained.

Menus figured out, the next question was how to create a space for playing the game. Halbrick had to find a way to make the game work in different rooms and with different obstacles in the way, like tables.

Once the team had settled on using a set of cannons in a semicircle to produce the sacrificial fruit, attention turned to weapons. “Instead of holding blades, you simply use your hands,” Turner says. “You become the weapon.”

The result sees players thrust their hands at strawberries and more to slice and splat them. Bombs can be batted away using the palm of a hand and different gestures can create different effects. With Super Fruit Ninja the lack of physical controllers isn't a limitation — it's a feature.

Whether or not that will be the case for other games, however, time will tell. Traditional VR headsets like the Oculus and PlayStation offerings have controllers for gamers to play with. Will hands be a reasonable replacement for that for all genres of games? Unlikely, but they sure do seem to do a great job in Super Fruit Ninja.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.