Ah Japan. Land of traditions. Earth of technology. Land of sushi! The rice ball with the slice of raw fish, once considered a method of preserving the delights of the sea, is today a dish exported all over the world. Even in Italy, the world capital of good food, sushi-based restaurants are today surprisingly large, so that in some neighborhoods of the big cities there are more Japanese restaurants than pizzerias. But what would happen if one day a crisis in sushi distribution led to a world war? Already, the scenario is ridiculous, but it is precisely at the base of Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido, new game for Nintendo Switch that has given us some interesting surprises.
As mentioned, the premise is grotesque. In fact, the game is infused with irony and driven by a weird plot that, however, did not fail to entertain us. Musashi is an orphan (or an orphan, depending on the choice of the player) who lives in a village where food resources are increasingly scarce. At one time the world was at peace and lived in abundance, made possible by the presence of large quantities of sushi. However, the control of the appealing Japanese dish led to a series of wars that forced governments to banish it. One day, Musashi meets a strange spirit that makes him taste sushi: it is love at first sight, and the young man sets himself the goal of bringing back sushi to the world to defeat hunger and restore harmony among peoples. But, apparently, the sushi hides a great power: someone wants to get hold of it, and the boy is forced to challenge a long line of opponents to eat.
All this madness comes in a puzzle-RPG in which we are faced with a kaiten, the traditional sliding tapes on which pass dozens of saucers containing nigiri, uramaki and other delicacies. The player, using the touch screen or analog controls (more practical, in our opinion), must combine the same color plates, to accumulate in front of him a large stack of empty plates to throw in the face of opponents, up to reset their life bar. Exactly like in the real kaiten-zushi widespread in the country of the Rising Sun, each color of the plates corresponds to a value of the plate (and, in restaurants, at its price), which in the game translates into a damage multiplier: eat so many expensive sushi increases the offensive capabilities of the player, and therefore we are pushed to always look for the best combinations. To make a combo you have up to 7 seconds, so the player must guess at first glance which is the best saucer to start with, sometimes relying on the case in hopes of seeing a sushi of the same color appear on a nearby ribbon.
The combos, in fact, are generated only when two sushi are close, introducing a certain dose of randomness that, sometimes, leads us to act in an almost casual. In short: although over time develops a certain technique in combining cheaper sushi, we often proceed in a frenzy, without really thinking about the saucers that are being selected. This is undoubtedly a defect in the gameplay area of the game, which in some moments can lead to the frustration of not having real control of what is happening on the screen. On the other hand, it is in the nature of frantic puzzle games like this to lose a little the picture of things, a little like a Tetris game when the speed of the tetramini becomes too fast to allow us to think of a real strategy. The point is that in Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido this really happens too often.
We do not despair, however, because Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is really a fun and layered game. In addition to the central mechanics of the game, in fact, there is a series of skills unlocked by the spirits of sushi that allow the player to intervene on the game, often changing it. For example, a sushi spirit can “electrify” the saucers to inflict more damage, reduce the variety of sushi on the tapes to allow for easy two-digit combos, and much more. The spirits are obtained by overcoming the battles of the long game campaign, which will engage us for several hours. In addition, during the journey you get various consumable items and upgrades for the kaiten, which allow you to face the challenges in increasing difficulty. Finally, as mentioned, the RPG component peeps into the evolution of our hero and sushi spirits, which guarantee a greater number of life points and the possibility to deal with increasingly powerful sushi. In addition, you can customize the character by assigning him a favorite sushi, to get more bonuses in battle that – in the case of the most advanced boss fight – can prove to be providential.
From a graphical point of view, we are faced with a game with simple claims: an action-RPG puzzle like this does not need big graphic frills to do its job very well. The graphic simplicity, however, is accompanied by a character design to say the least irreverent, with animated interludes of excellent quality that have entertained us. Too bad for the dialogues a bit ‘cumbersome and, in some cases, almost repetitive (especially against all the henchmen of the first world … seen one, seen all). But we had fun in front of some of the strange characters that populate the world of Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido and in general we are satisfied also from this point of view. Finally, excellent sound effects and music, including the opening song that will quickly enter your head.
Lastly, the online gaming sector, which joins the long campaign mode, should be noted. Thanks to Nintendo’s connection – still for free – you can challenge players in our region or train against bots. The online challenges are exciting, even if spoiled by the random component of the gameplay we talked about. In general, however, a clever use of sushi spirits combined with a good glance can make the difference.
Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is therefore richer in content than we could expect. A game that Nintendo offers with a certain dose of irreverence, which we also appreciated for short sessions of play. Nintendo Switch is really the perfect console for this kind of products, able to entertain like a simple puzzle for mobile phones but to entertain for a long time with more complex mechanics, hidden under a layer of colorful raw fish. Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is a surprising game, however simple, and goes to the top of the list of the best puzzle games for the Nintendo home hybrid console.