‘Ninja Trainer’ on Vive is Like Kinect ‘Fruit Ninja’, Except it Actually Works (really well)


While Fruit Ninja was neat in concept, the performance limitations of the Kinect made it amount to little more than glorified flailing; the latency and lack of precision made you feel more like a parody than a ninja proper. Thankfully, the precision tracking of the latest VR systems is ready to bring out the real ninja inside.

Ninja Trainer by developer Atomic VR is a Vive demo which finally delivers on the promise of Fruit Ninja. Inside the headset you wield a katana. The flailing about that’s typical of the Kinect won’t cut it; combined with a smart momentum-based slicing engine, the one-sided blade forces you to think carefully about the direction of each swing. As fruit flies up in front of you, you’ll need to be strategic about each strike if you’re to be quick enough to move from one piece of fruit to the next.

The low-latency and precision of the Vive’s tracking is really what makes Ninja Trainer possible. In the Kinect-based Fruit Ninja, players and their karate chops only exist in 2D. With Ninja Trainer on the Vive, everything is happening in 3D, and swings of the sword require control in every direction.

This step up from parody to serious slicing is shown perhaps most easily by the speed at which the fruit is thrown at the player. In Kinect Fruit Ninja, fruit is lobbed upward and seems to float in low-gravity, giving players time to react and compensate for the device’s latency. In Ninja Trainer on the Vive, fruit is throw at players with much greater speed, but those skilled in the art of fruit fillet will have no problem keeping up because the latency is so much better than what could be achieved with the Kinect. The precision is there too; if you hit the fruit with the side or back of your Katana instead of the sharp edge, you’ll merely bat it away without cutting it.

YouTube channel Node took Ninja Trainer for a spin and cranked the realism up a notch by using a sword prop to replicate the weight and inertia of a real katana (see the tail end of the video above).

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  • John C. ‘Buck’ Field

    Controller with added weight, and resistance bag would be nice for conditioning & more serious practice.

  • George Vieira IV

    This makes me wonder where are all the VR golfing games. Just attach a club to one of the controller, like they did the sword. Though I think trackers on your legs/feet might be necessary to really sell it. But if they did I’m pretty sure my dad would pick up a VR setup just for that.

    • Steve Biegun

      Why do you need feet? If you have feet, you introduce issues with the feet and legs not looking precisely like the user’s own legs/feet. Cloudlands VR is a fantastic experience for minigolf that you might enjoy. If you’d rather have an actual golf club, just tape one to your controller.

      • George Vieira IV

        Stance is pretty important in golf, and you often look down at your legs, if for no other reason because the ball is down there.

        True that there could be issues if they relied on just trackers on your feet but I think IK works better on legs than it does on arms, but if they can’t get that to work, I suppose trackers on your upper leg would be needed too.

    • Sky Castle

      There are 2 golfing VR games coming this year. I forgot the name of them though.

    • Some Guy

      I think VR golf will work great. Devs are learning to help with other body parts not being tracked. Look for the video of Hover Junkers and how a very talented programmer came up with a solution to simulate the arms, chest, shoulders to match the player’s body, all from just the Vive Wands. I think if they really spent some time on it they could simulate the legs position (relatively well for golf) by just the Headset and Wands. Who knows, maybe HTC/Vive will release additional receivers that can be attached to other areas of the body (legs/feet).

  • Brian Stack

    Played this at the February Chicago VR meetup. Much more accurate than I expected. I didn’t get to try out the cool sword extension on the controller, though.

  • Sky Castle

    I played Fruit Ninja on my iphone awhile ago and it was entertaining for a few minutes. I would imagine enjoying this for a short time as well. I would pay a few bucks for this.

    • Some Guy

      Agree, that it should be no more than a few bucks, but game wise, technically the more you play this game the better your reaction, timing, and accuracy skills become – just like if you were swinging a real sword. Swiping with a finger is one thing, but doing this will actually improve skills that could be useful in the real world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about actually cutting fruit with a sword, lol, but more so for certain sports that could use this fast reaction time.

      • Sky Castle

        Not to mention you can get a good workout as well. The premise of this game can get repetitive quickly though, which is why I wouldn’t pay too much, but I would like to have it in my gaming library nonetheless.

        • Some Guy

          True. What I like about this whole room tracking VR tech we got going on is it’s like the Wii that should have been. The Wii was fun, but became a gimmick very fast, and had some major limitations. I feel like this time around we can finally experience the true motion controls we desired, because we are now in 3D space, rather than looking at a 2D screen, along with very precise tracking; that being said, I’m sure a lot of WIi type games will come back, but this time being much more effective. Fitness games are going to be huge in VR – that is, once a company invents a solution to control the sweat from not destroying and making the headset nasty.

  • kalqlate

    Stating the obvious: Every game with real-life objects in hand will be given a greater sense of realism with weighted extensions. Imagine baseball (bat), tennis (racket), table tennis / ping pong (paddle), etc. From this, I imagine that the next gen of controllers will make specific provisions for weighted extensions that include enhanced electronics and mechanics for other effects, particularly force-feedback.

    • Some Guy

      Yup, let the 3rd party Wii controller add-ons come back to life. Gonna be A LOT of them!

    • check out the guys over at THE VOID..They are working on applications like this.Weighted stuff.We are at where the web was, back in 1995..long way to go .However when this is refined its going to be nasty..

      • kalqlate

        Agreed! It’s going to get interesting!

    • Actually to tried the VIVE fruit ninja and was impressed for the zero latency and to orientation.But i didnt like the controllers.What i want to do is take an unsharpened katana and redo the handle.Make it a bit larger and take the controller components and put it inside…

  • realtrisk

    *sigh* This is going to be SUCH a long month… >_<

  • Ninja Trainer looks crazy fun, but is nowhere to be found. It’s not on steam, it’s not on the Atomic VR site… where (and when) can users get it?