Even when a lover betrays you… Sushi never will!
“The following is a guest post by the Final Fourteenth Mage.”
Every so often there’s a game release that takes you by complete surprise. For me, that game was Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido. Admittedly, I was intrigued by the concept when it was first announced. A game about sushi? With anime like cutscenes and fun music? It sounded exactly like my cup of tea. Therefore, it is no surprise that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this game.
Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is set in a world devastated by the Great Sushi Wars. You find yourself playing as a child named Musashi who is either male or female depending on player choice. Musashi is an orphan due to the Sushi Wars. One morning that starts just like any other, Musashi finds herself scouting for berries to help feed the orphaned children when she meets an unusual man with a love of sushi who changes her life forever.
The man is known as a Sushi Striker. A Sushi Striker is someone who partners with a Sushi Sprite to produce sushi.
Sushi used to be a common meal until the polluted waters led to the eventual extinction of fish. The fish were then reincarnated as Sushi Sprites who only bless people with sushi who respect it. This doesn’t always seem to be the case though as some of your enemies are also sushi strikers who want to use sushi for bad or to fulfill their own egotistical desires. However, only the sushi strikers who REALLY love and respect sushi can take it to the next level and obtain the ability known as Sushido.
The game itself is a puzzle game. You and your opponent stand at opposite ends of a sushi train. Both sides are separate with a shared lane in the middle filled with different kinds of sushi that you can both take from. As the sushi come across the screen, you have to connect the same coloured plates to build up a combo. As you gradually collect more and more sushi plates you can release abilities and use the stack of plates themselves to throw at your opponent for a direct hit.
When you have filled up your combo meter, you can unleash a special attack on your opponent depending on what three sushi sprites you have equipped. Each sushi sprite that you have pledged with has a unique ability that you can use in battle. These range from allowing you to directly attack your opponent, inconvenience them by blocking their lanes, or recover your HP. There are a lot of different options and it helps to play around with the different sushi sprites to find ones that best suit the way you play.
Speaking of different options, you can choose a favourite kind of sushi out of an ever-expanding variety. Each type of sushi comes with an advantage in battle such as additional XP gain, more attack, or better combos. Just like with choosing your sushi sprites, it’s best to play around with these and choose which ones best suit you. I personally alternated between one that allows for faster XP growth (when I was behind the recommended level) and one that increased my attack power.
The whole game takes place on a world map. Each battle is designated as one location on the map as you make your way through. There’s no exploring or anything to be had in the game, just a designated path that your character automatically runs on in between battles. If you’ve played the demo you will no doubt be familiar with this already. You can tell that the game was designed with the Nintendo 3DS in mind first and foremost. This doesn’t hurt the Nintendo Switch release at all but it does mean that you can tell that there could be a little more done in regards to the game if it was released solely on the Nintendo Switch.
To continue the above point, the graphics are fine but nothing to write home about. The true charm comes from the cut-scenes which do look brilliant and they take me back to the 1990’s when I would watch morning cartoons before getting ready for school. The characters themselves definitely fit into that kind of zany style, too. The music is nice but it’s the opening and ending themes that are truly memorable. In fact, Nintendo even released a karaoke version of the opening theme before its release. The ending theme goes well and ties up the story.
The 8-Bit Review
The graphics during gameplay are rather average and you can tell that the game itself was originally designed to play on the 3DS before moving to Switch production also. However, the cutscenes are absolutely beautiful and reminiscent of a morning cartoon from the 1990’s. They are fun, colourful and really display what Sushi Striker is all about. From the opening alone you get such a great vibe as to what this game is about and before that even finished I was sold on the game.
Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is one of those games that sounds a lot more complicated than it really is. The puzzle element itself is quite simple as you have to link multiple sushi plates together according to colour. Strategy comes into play in regards to what Sushi Sprites you are going to use as they all have their own unique abilities. You can choose between ones that heal you, hide your opponents sushi, directly attack your opponent and more.
Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido also includes a VS mode and a puzzle mode so there are multiple gameplay options to keep things fresh.
I really enjoyed the crazy story in Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido. It’s one of those stories that just kind of make sense when you play through it yourself? Sure, it’s not too often that a country goes to war over sushi but some of the sushi in the game does look rather divine.
The story itself may be rather simplistic with the big plot twist being obvious from a mile away but that doesn’t stop the story itself from being an enjoyable ride. I lived for the cutscenes through the game as I always wanted to see what would happen next and it was a fun change of pace from constant battles.
It does follow the anime trope of an everyday young person becoming a hero but whether or not it has the ‘happily ever after’ ending is something that you will have to find out for yourself!
I will tell anyone and everyone that I am not great at puzzle games and this was the one thing that made me nervous about picking this game up. I would have been horrified if I got the game and couldn’t beat it. Alas, that was not the case and I managed to beat the game under-leveled by five.
The game does a fantastic job of introducing mechanics one at a time whilst explaining them in detail. I never once felt overwhelmed by what I had to do.
I played Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido on the Switch and in regards to the controls you can use both the joy-cons and the touch screen. I chose to use the touch screen as I found it much more convenient to just drag my fingers over the screen as opposed to trying to navigate the waves of sushi. You could also use a stylus of sorts if you wanted to be more precise but I never had a problem without one.
The early chapters of the game do start out easy but the difficulty does ramp up during the second half of the game and I found myself consistently under-leveled throughout. There are also a multitude of bosses that require a fair bit of strategy that you often can’t just brute force your way through.
That said the game does tell you what level you should be to be able to beat each stage and there’s no penalty for defeat. It puts you back on the map screen where you can start the battle again.
Now that I have completed the story, I can’t say that I would play it again. I know what happens and the bosses are all predictable with what they will use against me in a battle. Therefore the only replayability comes in the form of the online VS mode and the puzzle mode which do hold up on this front and allow you to get bang for your buck.
Never in my life did I ever think that I would be playing a game where people use sushi as a weapon. Not only that but they spend their time eating it as a way to attack their opponents? The fact that the country went to war over sushi and people died in this war is absolutely bonkers and I totally love it. I have never known a game to have a story like this and because of that Sushi Striker will always hold a special place in my heart.
My Personal Grade: 7/10
I am so glad that I picked Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido up! It’s an absolutely charming game with its 1990’s cartoon aesthetic, basic Pokémon-like mechanics and fun story. I’ve never played a game like it and I have no idea if I ever will again. I truly think that anyone who likes puzzle games should give this one a go as they won’t be disappointed. I definitely thought that it is deserving of its price tag at launch and I am really satisfied with the purchase.
Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is going to go down as one of my favourite games of 2018 and it’s going to be a title that I pick up and play for a long time to come.
Aggregated Score: 7.3
The Final Fourteenth Mage has the weight of her backlog on her shoulders as she scours the internet searching for her next favourite game. You may know her as Priscilla Cullen and can read more of her musings at Cilla vs. Games.
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