Whenever Nintendo releases a new game, in a new IP, people tend to take notice, but with Sushi Striker, is the premise enough to overcome the first release issues?
You play as Musahasi, in a world where Sushi is outlawed and only the rich and powerful can enjoy the seafood treat, but after getting into a fight with some local bullies, Musahasi’s meagre food supplies are ruined. While he is pouting that he can’t help feed the other kids at the local orphanage he lives at, he meets Franklin, a man who carries a book and has a partner who can summon Sushi. Pretty quickly things go bad, Franklin is kidnapped and Musashi meets his own Sushi Sprite and together they go out to save Franklin, but that is just the first step in a much larger adventure that is filled with some of the most intense sushi loving people you could ever think of meeting.
The gameplay is broken down into two distinct parts, world exploration and battles, but there is a problem with the world and exploring it, you are stuck on a path, like Mario Bros 3. You can see things that look nice, but you are not able to go over there to explore them, unless the game draws you a path. As the game was made for the 3DS initially and then brought to Switch, I can understand the lack of exploration on the older hardware, but just being able to leave the path in the Switch version would have been enough, but whilst the world is not great for exploring, the gameplay is not much better.
That is not entirely accurate, while the matching mechanics work really well, along with the sheer number of power-ups, it is how you play the game that feels wrong. In order to beat the opponent, you need to match as many coloured plates as you can, the sushi on top is not counted, just the colour of the plate. As you collect the plates, which you get as Musashi smashes down all the sushi on them, they stack up at the bottom of the screen and when a stack is full, it gets sent to the enemy player and you deal damage, you can also throw them at will. Getting the plates means that you need to collect at least three, but sometimes the plate you need might be just out of reach and while they are on conveyers, you can speed them up, combining all of that has the game working really well.
The problem is that whenever you start to play, at least on Switch, you will encounter the games most annoying issue, the controls. Should you choose to play the game docked, you need to use a controller and sadly the stick is not right for the game, as if you press it in a direction, the cursor can shoot across the screen, so instead of hitting the plate to your left, you hit the left wall. There are times when you can get the one in the direction you are aiming for, but it happens far less than I liked, sadly touch screen controls are much better, except for the fact that you cover the screen when playing. On the 3DS version, you can see your opponent at all times, here, when you are chaining up plates across the belts, you can constantly covering up the screen, the problem with this is that, when you can’t see the plates, you can’t work out where to go.
If you take the game as intended, touch screen is the way to go, so having an issue like this is quite annoying, but if you have the patience, I am sure you may adjust, but it will still be a problem. The other issue that I struggled with, was the gameplay being so repetitive, yes there are the occasional big boss fights that are entertaining, but for the most part, it is that you select a stage in the world, defeat an enemy, get your score and then rinse and repeat and sadly, none of the character charm can make up for this.
Speaking of character charm, let’s talk about the games presentation, at a quick glance, you will notice the heavily anime inspired visuals, complete with crazy and over the top music opening. The characters sadly never break from the traditional anime conventions, but the ones that are here, still a hoot at times. None of the characters look like each other, so you will soon learn who they are at a glance, which is nice, even the fact that Muashi can be either gender, based on your preference, is not a problem as both designs blend into the world perfectly. Sound wise, the game shines again, as the vocal performances, at least when they happen, are incredible, combine that with some killer music, again looking at you opening sequence and you can get something that is a great for your ears as your eyes.
Sushi Striker is a strange game, not because it started on one platform and then came to another one, but more than that, it is the incredible presentation, combine with less than ideal controls and repetitive gameplay that make it so. If you like match 3 type games, there is a lot to enjoy here, if you want something fresh, a recent Nintendo series, which is also sea themed, might be better for you.