Conveyor belt sushi has always had a kernel of fun at its core. Patrons watch the dishes pass by and pull whatever their bellies demand. If they aren’t fast enough, they have to wait for its return from its trip around the restaurant. The idea has a game-like element as they have to hunt for the sushi they want, chat with friends, and eat.
Conveyor belt sushi has inspired many video games, notably appearing as a mini-game in the 1999 edition of Pokemon Stadium for the Nintendo 64. This year, the Japanese developers have created Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido for the Nintendo Switch.
The addictive puzzle game revolves around the conveyor belt concept. Players take on the role of Musashi (players can choose the gender of hero), an orphan living in the Republic after a conflict called the Sushi Struggles. The protagonist has a tough time finding food – until one day he runs across a man named Franklin and his sushi sprite.
These magical creatures have the ability to make sushi, and Musashi’s first bite has him hooked. Before he can share the food, the Empire captures Franklin and Musashi nearly starves alone in the wilderness. Fortunately, he comes across his own sushi sprite named Jinrai. The two resolve to rescue Franklin and defeat the Empire, which seeks to hoard all the sushi in the world.
Players can choose to play with the Switch controller or touch-screen, though the former is unwieldy while the latter is more natural.
Similar to games like Bejewelled, players have to match coloured sushi plates that roll down the conveyor belt. The plates have to be next to each other to count, and players have up to seven seconds to connect them to continue the combo. Completing a set creates a pile of plates, and Musashi tosses those dishes at a rival lowering their health. When rivals lose all their energy, they lose.
It sounds simple enough, but Sushi Striker requires fast thinking and dexterity as plates relentlessly cycle through. Players encounter make-or-break moments when they’re piling up plates at the risk of losing the chance at gathering other sushi dish colours. Other times, they have to keep an eye on sushi sprite powers, which add a layer of depth to the gameplay.
Players can use three sushi sprites in a battle. Each creature has an ability that turns the tide of battle. Jinrai can change all the sushi plates to one colour, enabling huge damage-dealing stacks. Elekan raises a shield that reduces damage. These sprites can be levelled up and evolved, adding a Pokemon-type element to the game, in which players have to strategised and create a team that can counter the powers of an opponent.
Aside from that, Sushi Striker has combat nuances that emphasise order and timing in battles. If players toss plate piles of the same colour one after another, they deal more damage. Timing also plays an important role, as sushi sprites such as Cryten can neutralise damaging attacks. The developers also tossed in wild cards, such random power-up and traps on the field.
Players learn these finer points through a campaign that follows predictable anime plot points. Although players know what story beats are coming next, Sushi Striker surprises players with diversity of opponents they encounter over a fairly long campaign.
Combine that with online and local multiplayer, puzzle challenges, and a score and grading system, and Sushi Striker has plenty to keep players busy. It has plenty of replay value as players can level up their hero and their sprites. It’s a compelling mix that could make this game Nintendo’s sleeper hit of the summer.
Edited by Ginny Wong