Developer: Playground Theory
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

When Fruit Ninja turned our fingers into little blades of doom it was a pretty big power trip. Bonsai Slice takes it a step further by turning our entire iPads into deadly bladed weapons. Content-wise it’s a little thin, but the hook is so sharp it’s nearly irresistible.

Bonsai Slice keeps it nice and simple. Players get a sword and use it to cut everything in sight. By holding the iPad upright and swinging, players can slash targets all around them in augmented-reality. The (non-living) targets vary from old game consoles to donuts to bowls of soup. There are plenty of bombs thrown in as well, so players can’t just carelessly chop around. Over the course of each minute-long round, objects come in waves and eventually must be sliced in the right order. The best challenges have players spinning in complete circles to quickly make all the cuts. However, this also means that similar object arrangements pop up in fairly set patterns, taking away the random surprise.

bonsai slice 5bonsai slice 6Swinging a sword is an inherently enjoyable activity, so that’s the only thing Bonsai Slice really needed to get right to be a success. Fortunately, it pretty much nails it. While the depth perception might be a little off, moving around to slice things in 3D space is super satisfying. The game world itself is a unique fusion of 2D and 3D graphical elements. Along with being colorful and pleasant to look at, the relative lack of detail seems to help keep gameplay running smoothly. However, not releasing an iPhone version, at least right now, is an odd choice. Slashing with the iPad is fun, but making broader strokes with a lighter, one-handed device might actually have more potential.

If Bonsai Slice has one problem though it’s that it coasts along on the greatness of its single mechanic. There are new swords with stronger abilities to buy and achievements to unlock, but cutting inanimate objects is really the only thing to do. Instead of having, say, one-on-one duels, the game’s sole multiplayer mode just compares high scores. The fantastic swordplay could have opened up so many amazing possibilities that the relatively shallow final package feels a little disappointing in comparison.

Still, Bonsai Slice is a fun and functional sword simulator. Who wouldn’t want to play that?

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