Fru

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Fru Game Poster Image
Kinect puzzler puts both brains and bodies to the test.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids will learn about puzzle solving and engage in a bit of healthy physical activity in this motion-controlled puzzle platformer. Players need to strike strange poses, kneel, hop, jump, and shuffle across the floor. The activity is low intensity, but pretty much constant during play. Sitting is rarely an option. And kids will need to use their brains, too, as they figure out solutions. Puzzles require cogent analysis, spatial reasoning, and some creative thinking. Players will also be forced to experiment with new elements and mechanics, then apply what they've learned. Fru isn't a replacement for daily physical activity, but it will keep kids moving while engaging their intellect.

Positive Messages

Promotes logical thinking, body movement, healthy self-image.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Player's character doesn't talk during his journey, nor does he get into any fights. His aim is simply to successfully traverse each puzzle.

Ease of Play

Simple gamepad controls, but motion controls require good coordination. Solutions to some of trickier puzzles require lateral thinking.

Violence & Scariness

Player's tiny human character can perish by falling off ledges, touching spiky hazards, getting trapped inside solid materials such as walls. When this happens, he simply disappears, zips back to start of current level.

Language
Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that FRU is a downloadable Kinect-exclusive motion-controlled platformer puzzle game. Players control a little hero with a gamepad, then use their bodies -- captured and presented in silhouette form on-screen by the camera -- to alter the game world and create paths. There's no fighting, but the player's character can perish by falling off ledges and touching spikes, in which case he simply disappears and gets whisked back to the beginning of the current level. Motion control is natural and intuitive but often requires precision movement, and many puzzles demand some pretty creative thinking. Kids won't get any vigorous exercise from this game, but it will keep them moving and active from start to finish.

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What's it about?

FRU isn't like any other game you've played. Made for Microsoft's Kinect motion sensor bar, it puts players in control of a little hero trying to find his way through temple-like mazes. You can press a thumbstick to make him move and hold down a trigger to make him jump. But that's only half the control equation. The other half is you; as in literally your body. As you stand in front of the camera, you'll see your body on-screen in the shape of a silhouette. And you'll instantly notice that this silhouette changes the part of the world it covers, making walls and platforms appear and disappear. Your goal is to use your body to create a path for the game's tiny protagonist. This will require you to contort yourself into strange shapes, jump in and out of his way, and shuffle back and forth across the screen. As the game progresses, the nature of your silhouette sometimes changes, becoming, for example, a body of water through which your hero can swim or a conduit that provides energy for small switches that make platforms appear and disappear. There are more than 100 levels/puzzles, and if you collect all the hidden idols in the main story, you'll unlock a secret co-op mode.

Is it any good?

This game manages to capture something close to the full potential of motion control, making player movement a real and meaningful part of the experience. This is handled in ways that no one else seems to have previously imagined, especially because most developers never quite seemed to figure out what to do with Microsoft's motion sensor bar. In Fru, it may take a few puzzles to fully appreciate and understand how it works and what it does, but once you do, you'll likely find yourself giggling at the developers' ingenuity and filled with self-satisfaction if the unique solutions you come up with for the game's often very challenging platformer puzzles.

It's not perfect, though. The nature of the silhouette mechanic puts players with smaller bodies at a disadvantage. They'll need to either move closer to the camera (which could cause sensor issues) or be more precise in their movements. Or they could just change their clothes. Baggy pants and dresses will increase the size of your silhouette, making some areas much easier -- and others much harder. It's worth noting, too, that you'll have a lot less fun and may grow more frustrated if you're lazy and unwilling to do things like lie on the floor or hold crazy yoga-style poses. Still, it's just about the best thing Kinect has seen since Xbox One's launch. If your Kinect has been unplugged and sitting on a shelf for the last couple of years, Fru provides ample reason to pull it down, dust it off, and plug it back in.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about screen time. How much time is the right amount of time to spend in front of screens in a given day? If you exercise more, should you be allowed to spend more time in front of the TV? Are there any potential detriments to spending time in front of screens beyond inactivity?

  • Discuss healthy physical activity. This game won't meet your daily requirement of physical activity, but its yoga-like movement doesn't hurt, either, so did you feel tired after playing? What else could you do during the day to compliment the exercise you get in a game like this?

Game details

For kids who love motion control

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