Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido (Switch) Review
Puzzle games aren’t games that typically grab me but when Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido was announced I had a bit of an interest. Not because I love Sushi – I hate seafood – but because it looked like a fast-paced puzzler that might just be able to replace Puyo Puyo Tetris, which I still revisit with friends regularly. Following a lengthy campaign, a few online battles and some savvy skill management, Sushi Striker has managed to surprise me on almost all fronts.
Sushi Striker takes place in a world where the Republic and the Empire battle over the control of sushi in a war known as the Sushi Struggles. A world without fish, the sushi is instead created by creatures called Sushi Sprites, who ally themselves with people known as Sushi Strikers who use Sushi to defend their nation. Your story follows a boy or girl named Musashi who tries sushi for the first time ever, absolutely loves it and vows to travel the country to spread the word of sushi to everyone. It’s all a bit weird, but it’s a bizarrely compelling story that takes some twists and turns with some memorable villains and a cute conclusion.
Sushi Striker is basically a matching puzzle game with a few neat little twists that separates it from the rest. You’ll have conveyor belts of sushi cascading in front of you and must match the colour of the plates within a seven second period before they’re “banked” in front of you on your table. After filling the table in front of Musashi, he flings one pile of his plates at his opponent, causing damage. Chaining plate throws of the same colour deals extra damage too, which automatically launch or can be manually launched if you want to coordinate your attack.
As such, your both your speed and what you’re matching will be what gives you the edge over your opponent, but sometimes the controls can get in the way of this. If you don’t use the touchscreen, you must hold a button while moving the joystick in the direction of a similarly coloured plate to build a chain. Eat enough sushi and you’ll be able to enter a “Sushi Jubilee” which turns your sushi into more exotic dishes and thus increases your damage output. It’s fast-paced and easy to get overwhelmed.
Sushi Striker bears a simple premise but one that’s better tried than read about, so I really recommend you try the demo out on the eShop to get the gist of the flow of battle. What doesn’t come across in the demo is just how much complexity and depth there is in this game, more than I’d typically expect from a puzzle game too.
Every dish of sushi has a unique property and be selecting it as Musashi’s favourite you’ll be able to enjoy various buffs that will help you along. Similarly, every colour of sushi plate has a different damage value, so selecting the right plates to throw at enemies without devolving into a button mashing mess is the greatest skill you could ever master and potentially what separates higher level players from lower level ones.
Borrowing a little bit from Pokemon, Musashi can also align himself with various sushi sprites. The sprites he takes into battle will directly affect how much health he has, and how much damage he takes. The quality of the sushi (and therefore the damage it causes when eaten) will also improve as you level up your sushi sprites, who all have their own individual stats too.
Even better, when you take them into battle they grant an ability each to Musashi. Some change the colours of your plates, jumble your opponents or even just provide a healing ability. With so many sushi sprites and so many abilities, assembling the perfect team can also be the difference between a win and a loss.
While Sushi Striker has a lot of depth to it, there are times when the frantic action can fall apart. The control scheme that the game offers are either the touchscreen or using the joy-con, as previously mentioned. I found myself playing with both when playing the game in handheld mode, but when playing the game docked it felt a little bit too quick for a controller. Sushi flows across the screen at blistering fast paces and missing a chain because of the controller being too slow to connect them or less accurate can be infuriating.
Despite this, the touchscreen does have its own issues too. I can’t quite speak for the 3DS, but the way the screen is laid out on the Switch means that you’ll make more mistakes that aren’t really your fault quite often. There’s not enough space between the lanes, meaning you’ll select the wrong one in the heat of battle. Worse, you can’t deselect a plate without adding it to your table which, by the time you’ve done so, foregoes a better stack or chain of sushi. Once more, it’s hard to explain without experiencing it first hand, but it becomes an issue as the difficulty of the battles ramps up and accuracy matters more than ever.
The actual story mode takes you across a few locations and will last players roughly 15 hours across almost 150 battles, and the difficulty remains consistent with the odd difficulty spike here or there. The biggest surprise is just how much effort has been put into the story mode, which features full voicework and some charming cinematics too. When you’re not revisiting story mode battles to improve your score, you can also jump online to play against others. Online is unlocked partway into the story and automatically scales all your sprites to Level 30 to even the playing ground, so you can always jump in with a friend regardless of their progress, which is great.
It’d be remiss of me to not mention how good-looking Sushi Striker is. While the game could easily be pulled off on a mobile phone of today (and I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually did), the game’s art direction and visuals are some of the best. It’s a simplistic, if generic style, but every plate of sushi looks sumptuous, which says a lot because I personally hate seafood. A minor consideration with regards to the presentation is that many of the plates are similar in colour, which I personally didn’t struggle with but colour blind people may struggle to play this as effectively as someone who isn’t.
The soundtrack is similarly well put together, ramping up the tension during battles while selling the tone of more dramatic scenes during the storyline. The opening theme, which is a bizarre vocal ode to Sushi, perplexes but at the same time fits right in and utterly delights.
Sushi Striker offers surprising depth for a puzzle game that almost anyone could enjoy, as well as a substantial single-player story with some great twists and turns. Despite some niggles with the game’s various control schemes, the core gameplay is fun, frenetic and fast-paced. Make no mistakes, Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is one of the most well put together puzzle games on the Switch.
+ Depth and Complexity
+ Meaty Single Player Content
+ Online Battles
- No Truly Perfect Control Scheme
- Slightly Generic Art
- Slow, Oversimplified Opening Battles