Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is more than you think it is. Watch a trailer, and you'll see a quirky drag-and-match puzzle game with a squishy Kawaii aesthetic. Play the demo, and you'll be introduced to a "war story" that's so over-the-top anime it could make an otaku chuckle in disbelief. Stick around for the long-haul and you'll see that, while this is a hilarious, hyper-colorful drag-and-match puzzle romp, Sushi Striker is also an intense, thoughtful strategy game. It also boasts addictive RPG progression elements, and a fantastic original cast of characters.
Trust me, you're going to want to trip down this rabbit-hole.
Though it's clear that Sushi Striker was originally designed for the 3DS, production value on the Switch is still appreciated. You can expect profusely voice-acted dialog, inspired music, and animated cutscenes peppered throughout your journey. The writing is suitably campy, and definitely geared toward a younger audience, but I found myself grinning with delight throughout it all.
Gameplay in Sushi Striker is approachable, and almost anyone can understand what "to do" within seconds of trying.
As rows of conveyor-belt sushi pass by in front of you, you'll attempt to link plates of the same color before they're gone. You have a seven-second window to zig, zag, and link as many plates as you possibly can, devouring the sushi, and creating tall plate stacks. These plate stacks are your weapons, and as they pile up you'll flick them at your opponents to dish out damage (pun intended, y'all).
As you consume sushi, you'll charge meters for your "sushi sprites." These are magical spirits who align with and aid you in your journey to bring sushi to the masses, and each has a powerful ability to trigger once their gauge is full. Your primary ally Jinrai, for example, has the "Sushi Bonanza" skill. This will instantly change every plate on your conveyor belts to the same color, enabling you to link up a massive number of plates, and create a huge stack to hurl at your opponent.
Those are the basics, and if you played the Sushi Striker demo, then you were given just enough time to come to grips with those basics. The full game goes much deeper, and with each additional twist and mechanic, gameplay becomes more challenging and more rewarding.
As your sushi sprites level up, the sushi plates that they spawn will increase in power and variety. Some of your sprites may even evolve into more powerful forms themselves.
Your sushi striker can also equip a few special items. Lane-Drive Gears affect the way, and the rate at which, your conveyor belts move. Unique "prepared items" have powerful effects that may make fights more difficult for experience bonuses, or else give you a one-time revival when you fall to a powerful foe.
As you consume more during battle, you'll unlock a variety of "favorite sushi," which will also offer its own unique enhancements or perks when you equip it. I myself tend to see yellow plates more easily on the conveyor belts, and find myself linking them more often. Since salmon is typically featured on yellow plates, I soon unlocked its power. That allowed me to select it as a "favorite sushi," and it gives me some extra time to link up big combos when my HP is running low. Think of favorite sushi like an RPG accessory.
We're going deeper down this rabbit-hole than you thought we would already, right?
On the surface, Sushi Striker is a fast-paced, drag-and-match puzzle game perfectly suited to playing in short bursts, but under the hood, sushi sprite combinations, lane-drive gears, prepared items, and favorite sushi perks all influence your offense and defense in significant ways. Additionally, every single battle has unique goals, earning you stars and high ratings, and larger challenge milestones are hung over your head in order to jack up your overall striker rank.
Don't get overwhelmed. It sounds like a lot on paper, but Sushi Striker reveals each facet of the bigger gameplay picture clearly and progressively over time. So too does the greater narrative picture come into focus as you progress, and while Sushi Striker clings to its wacky, Saturday-morning anime vibe, the story does take some interesting turns.
Sushi Striker is available for Nintendo Switch as well as Nintendo 3DS. I do most of my gaming on Switch these days, but my 3DS is alive and well, and Sushi Striker seems like a better fit for the 3DS (where it's also cheaper). I personally recommend using touch-controls while playing on Switch in handheld mode, but playing with a stylus would be ideal.0comments
Either way, you're in for a treat. Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido does justice to the legacy of its developers as well as its publisher. It deftly mashes together elements of puzzle, RPG, and even monster-collecting genres into something unique and challenging. If you're at all attracted to its puzzle elements, it's a sure bet.
WWG's Score: 3.5 / 5