Sushi Striker: The Way Of Sushido is a new IP from Nintendo that was released for both the Nintendo Switch and 3DS. Using a Saturday morning cartoon style and an RPG puzzle style gameplay, we will see how this new title holds up and if it’s worth checking out.
Release date: June 8th, 2018
Approximate size: 2.7 GB
Genre: Action Adventure, Puzzle
Developed by Nintendo EPD, indieszero
Published by Nintendo
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch; Also Available On Nintendo 3DS
Sushi Striker has an adorable story mode that is light hearted and presented like a Saturday morning anime. A funny and entertaining cast of characters brings the player along for a story that is completely implausible but wonderfully fun to be a part of. The story puts the player into the shoes of Musashi, a boy who hates sushi and whose parents gave their lives fighting against the Empire to stop them from taking the world’s sushi. A sacrifice in vain, as the Empire was successful in gaining control of all the sushi. Even speaking about Sushi is a crime and this inability to eat this delicacy has left the town in which he grows up in with hunger. Survival becomes difficult. Things take a turn for the young Musashi when he encounters the Sushi Strikers, also when eating Sushi for the first time, and a quest is created to fight the Empire.
The game doesn’t take itself seriously and is presented to give meaning behind your actions. It works. Besides the beautifully crafted animations, story progression is shown with pictures of the characters on screen and some spoken dialogue and text to read. It’s a technique we’ve seen in other games, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I felt disappointment in going this route after seeing the cartoon like cutscenes. What makes the story shine the brightest are the personalities of all the characters. It’s a nice little journey and a tale I enjoyed seeing play out.
Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido has a lot of different elements to it. It is a puzzler, an action game, and an RPG; all of it beautifully interwoven to create a spectacular experience. Upon starting the games equivalent to a campaign, you embark on an overworld similar to Super Mario World and Cuphead. From there you select a level that had you battling soldiers of the Empire with up to three goals or objectives to complete. This makes replaying levels encouraging and motivating as you hope to accomplish all the tasks given. These objectives, as well as your performance, will play a role in the ranking you’ll receive at this stage. You better believe that trying to achieve that high scorer can become addicting. But, what is it you are doing in this level? What is the core gameplay? I was getting to that. Jeez. Patience.
The general gameplay has you facing off against another using sushi to fight. Yes, you read that right. There are seven conveyor belts that have an endless supply of sushi revolving around, different types and on different colored plates. The three in front of you are for you to utilize, the fourth which is in the middle is for either player, and the last three farthest from you but closest to your opponent is for him to use. The game gives you the option to use motion controls if playing on any mode and not on television, or tradition controls. Both options work marvelously and it’ll just come down to player preference. Personally, I’ve never really been a fan of touch controls, I’ve stuck with traditional controls. I do have in my notes that I was impressed with the game’s touch controls. Very fluid and easy to use. Your goal is to match plates and sushi until you have a big enough pile to inflict damage on the opponent. The higher your stack of plates, the more damage you’ll be able to do. There is an element of strategy in figuring out when to attack and when to pile those plates higher.
The game gives you seven seconds when you’re on screen to stack sushi and, so, you have to strategize with that time because if you take too much time and a plate leaves the screen, and you lose that potential stack. This makes it massively important to have a plan before you start stacking plates and to have some foresight on where your next move will be. I found myself being more tactical in how I played and tried to maximize my opportunities. This element of playing cautious was surprising because, at first glance, you don’t think a game like this would require it. Matching plates and sushi color play a role, timing plays a role, and knowing when to collect what you have also plays a role. I was very surprised to see this game have some deep elements. Speaking on different types of sushi, they each have their own effects or abilities, adding another layer to the game. Also, the one you have set as your favorite adds buffs or stronger attacks for you. You may find yourself in a situation where you’ll have to choose between getting a giant stack or focusing on gathering your favorite. A very nice, unique, element. These sushi with their qualities can make or break a game at times, a very clutch mechanic.
Now besides your own tactics and sushi benefits, there are also some buffs and support you can get from Sushi Sprites. These Pokémon like creatures offer special skills and power-ups for battle and they can make difference; they can change the pace of the whole experience. It’s yet another added layer to the gameplay and another element that can change the way the game is played. Up to three can be carried into battle and they each have their own respective gauge to the left of the screen. As you play and chain combinations, that gauge slowly fills and once it’s full you can unleash their abilities. These buffs can range from a number of things that’ll give you an advantage, such as making all plates one color or, maybe, it’ll add a protective shield so that you receive less damage from the enemy. There are more abilities that I won’t spoil here but the abilities can range, and more rare sprites may bring more powerful buffs.
Now, remember I mentioned there was an RPG element? Your character and the Sushi Sprites all have their own leveling system. Your Sushi Sprites will evolve once they’ve reached a high enough level, a state the game refers to as Awakening, and much like the Pokémon comparison, these new forms grant new abilities and powers to be used in battle. This compliments the items that can be used in battle and give the player a ton of opportunities at their disposal. Also, should there be a stat you want improved upon, there are items for that as well.
Overall, the gameplay is more varied and deeper than I initially believed. It’s a fun game with lots of mechanics at work that encourages experimentation. On the surface, the concept is simple, and the objective is plain and obvious but as you delve deeper into the gameplay, you realize all the little elements available that make for a more meaningful experience. The game is fun. Plain and simple. I had a good time with it and it’s a great baseline for a sequel. A sequel I look forward to.
This is your local versus mode where you and another player, either on the same Switch or connecting another locally, battle against one another. I’ll tell you right off the bat that playing with two units locally is probably the better way to go. However, if for whatever reason you can’t, playing on one Switch is manageable. You see, when you play on one unit the game uses the same format and one player will take the tip position usually reserved for the enemy AI when playing the campaign. This obscure view can make things more confusing as you’ll have to use the conveyor belts farther away from the screen. It is recommended that the more advanced players take this role and it quickly becomes apparent why because you can lose track of your goal with all the hectic things on the screen. Not to mention that you spend the vast majority of the game using the bottom portion of the screen. Despite that, it’s fully playable in this mode and the back and forth banter I had with whoever I was playing with only enhanced the experience for the better.
The game is fully playable online, and this was completely unexpected. I didn’t believe this game would have a competitive multiplayer aspect to it, but it does and it works well. The same fluid and strategic gameplay carries over to the online experience. Online leaderboards would have been nice, as well as having the option to play ranked and casual matches. If the online section can build a strong community, I can see these elements being added in. Connection wise, the game runs great online. There was not much lag and no games failed. The Nintendo Switch continues to surprise with its superb online connections. This game didn’t need online multiplayer but it’s nice that the developers included it, and that it all runs well.
Sushi Striker is a cute looking game and captures the spirit of 90’s cartoons perfectly. Character Models ooze personality with their innocent and simple designs. The main character, in particular, is very likable in appearance and personality, regardless of the gender you choose. The game has opted for a ‘less is more approach’ in terms of design choices and it works for the most part. Enemies and other characters all fit in this world and I didn’t run into any that stuck out. Visually, the game is very colorful and full of life that I really enjoyed. With so many games coming out with a darker palette, games like these are a nice change of pace. The UI is clean with everything the player needs to know, when actually playing, reserved to the sides. A good choice and they don’t ever steal your attention away from what’s going on. All of the menus that you’ll maneuver through are all fluid and simple to navigate.
The story presents itself as drawings with text for dialogue, similar to visual novels, and the art is spectacular. Instead of taking a lazy approach where they only use one-character stance for the duration of the dialogue, for all dialogue, they actually use different drawings and a visual display of emotion. It’s very well done. The overworld is also designed nicely and colorful. Battles are presented with colorful flair as you fight and the live feed on the side of the screen that displays how your opponent is reacting is a nice visual touch. The game’s approach seems to be, besides being simple, is to infuse every aspect of it with personality and it nails it.
The only time where the simplistic art style fails it is when concerning the backgrounds during dialogue scenes. Sometimes they feel too simple, too plain, and I think adding the same dynamic flair the gameplay has would have helped. I get that the focus is on the characters and the interaction they are having but I found my eyes lingering often to the background and feeling a little disappointed at times at the lack of effort placed on them. It’s nothing game breaking but it is disappointing nonetheless. Also, the Sushi Sprites can come off as generic rip-offs of the Android and iOS rip-offs of Pokémon. They could have done a lot more with their designs and it looks as if they opted for the bare minimum, or they were added in last minute without time to diversify and expand their design. Other than these two instances, the game is visually amazing, and I enjoyed it after playing some of the more darker games found on other platforms.
A mysterious new IP like this one shouldn’t have a soundtrack as good as this one. It’s almost criminal how great it is. That opening song sets the tone for the whole game with its catchy best, over the top lyrics, and happiness in each line delivered. It’s like listening to the opening sequence of an anime and then listening to perfect techno dance music as your battling against enemies. Fantastic. When the music is causing your hips to sway, you’ll encounter songs and beats with guitar riffs and other instruments to create a truly wonderful soundtrack. It’s very impressive and entirely unexpected. I mentioned how they went with a ‘less is more approach’ for the graphics, well, they went all in for the sound design. What’s even better is that the simple graphics and dynamic audio compliment one another so well.
The sound effects are also nice. The sound cues chosen for attacks, for when you’re zipping across the screen to stack plates, and from activating a power are all implemented well. Another highlight to the sound design is the game’s voice acting. The cutscenes are fully voiced and the visual novel style storytelling is partially, but regardless the voices fit the characters so well it’s great. This could easily be the seeds of Nintendo planning on turning it into a full game and it would fit spectacularly, they wouldn’t need to recast anyone because all roles are filled exactly how you would imagine the voice to accompany the image. The team behind the game did great in this area.
Sushi Striker: The Way Of Sushido is a great little game that has a lot of elements to it. Nintendo has found another great series for their platform and I am very interested in seeing where the series goes from here. The game has a great art style that is simple and reminiscent of Saturday morning Cartoons clashed with anime and the game’s soundtrack and sound design is phenomenal. Some scenes look bland and could have used some more variety of elements to look at but the game more than makes up for it with all the different systems it has at work. When it comes down to it, Sushi Striker is great, good, time and it’s a ton of fun. It feels as if every time I boot up the game I discover something new and exciting and, well, I just want more.
Sushi Strike: The Way Of Sushido$49.99
- Amazing Soundtrack
- A Lot Of Different Gameplay Elements
- Cartoon Art Style
- The Game Is Super Fun To Play
- Online Is Great
- Some Bland Environments
- Sushi Sprites Lack Uniqueness Or Soul
- Co-op Position May Turn Some Players Off