Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido from indieszero, a developer best known for its work on the NES Remix collections and Theatrhythm series, oozes the quirk and charm usually associated with Nintendo games and hardware. It takes the weird concept of a puzzle game centered around eating Sushi and fleshes it out to creates something that is deep and content rich.
While the game’s origin as a Nintendo 3DS exclusive shows within both the game format and controls, Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido still manages to feel right at home for the most part on Nintendo Switch due to its crisp and clean presentation and the amount of quality content on display.
The game is set in a world that revolves around its love of Sushi. This love of the Japanese cuisine eventually started the Great Sushi Struggles, in which the evil empire came out on top and left protagonist Musashi (not of the Brave Fencer kind) an orphan. After partnering with the powerful Sushi Sprite Jinrai and becoming a titular Sushi Striker, Musashi joins the Sushi Liberation Front, a rebel group, to take down the empire and learn what happened to his parents.
Yes, Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido‘s story is just as crazy and nonsensical as it sounds, but that’s not a bad thing. The story is presenting in animated cutscenes, with both scenarios and visual styles that hearken back to Shonen anime. The main story itself is level based, and every stage remains varied due to the unique sushi sprites each character uses. The writing is also self-aware, with enemies having corny names like Private Unger or Councilor Wizird.
While I wouldn’t call the game’s script, voice acting, and story itself anything phenomenal, Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido makes up for it in spades with its presentation, quirky characters, and premise are wacky enough to make the game stand out in a sea of Nintendo Switch and 3DS titles.
Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is a puzzle game at heart, but presents itself in a very action-heavy way. During each battle, sushi on different colored plates makes its way down several conveyor belt lanes. While the color of the plates and type of sushi on them vary, the goal is to match and eat as much Sushi on a specific type of plate as one possibly can in a row. After creating the biggest possible stack, players must throw it at their enemies to deal damage and dwindle their health to zero.
The action-puzzle games, which can also be described as puzzle fighters, have always interested me, as they feel super rewarding to play, and Sushi Striker is no different. It feels super satisfying to create several giant stacks of plates and then launch them at my opponent to deal thousands of damage. This setup also allows for a ton of variety, so two matches never felt the same to me, as any challenge could be overcome with persistence and the right plate layout.
On top of that concept, there is a lot of smaller aspects for players to sink their teeth into. Players can customize their lane gear to impact the speed of lanes, choose a favorite type of sushi for bonuses, and build combos by throwing several stacks of plates of the same color in a row. This whole system is also embellished by the Sushi Sprites, which help add flair to each battle and add a “catch ’em all” feeling to Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido.
Each Sushi Sprite has a unique ability, like turning all plates into the same color or breaking the opponent’s table, which helps turn the tide of battle. To use these abilities, players need to gain energy by eating sushi itself, which encourages players to avoid empty plates and to eat tons of sushi at once for a significant boost in energy. Each sprite also determines what kinds of sushi are present in the lanes, further deepening the decision of which sprites to bring in with you.
While those who aren’t as familiar with puzzles games may have a bit of trouble getting used to the unique systems of Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido, those who dedicate themselves to its ins-and-outs will find a game that’s very rewarding to master. For a concept that I’ve seen some write off as too mobile gamey, Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido itself makes up for it with both the depth mentioned above and the amount of content it lets players sink their teeth into.
Even outside of the primary story mode, where players can attempt to get S ranks on each stage, there are several side levels for players to test their skills in. Between battles, players can also return to the Shrine Grove, a hub that is upgraded throughout the game. Here players can upgrade their Striker Rank, increase their sprites happiness, play gimmick matches, and face others both locally online.
Facing off with other players online can be enjoyable, though I did unfortunate encounter a fair bit of lag in most matches I played. For a puzzle game like Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido that require precision, this can be detrimental and result in unfair losses. That being said, multiplayer promises a nearly infinite number of unique sushi striking matches to be had, so I could see a dedicated multiplayer community growing around this game.
On that note, the Nintendo Switch version of Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is hindered explicitly by some small control problems. Don’t get me wrong, the game looks excellent on Switch and is formatted just fine for its single screen, but this does feel like a game initially designed for the Nintendo 3DS’ two screens setup and stylus that slightly redesigned to accommodate the Switch’s more traditional control scheme.
While Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is still enjoyable to play on Nintendo Switch, this version can sometimes lack precision with its control, so it is sometimes hard to pinpoint or move to the exact plate you want to in a heated moment. The game does feature touch controls, but this lack of precision becomes an unavoidable issue when in docked mode. I played the majority of Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido in handheld mode, as that’s the way it’s really meant to be experienced.
Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido‘s price tag on Nintendo Switch is also fairly steep at $50, while the 3DS version of the game is only $40. That being said, I would still recommend the game, especially to avid puzzle game fans looking for something new at that high price. This title is packed to the brim with content and gets all the mileage it can out of its reasonably absurd premise.
Even though its online multiplayer isn’t perfect, and the Switch version specifically can occasionally suffer from a lack of precision when using a controller, Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido wound up being one of the most original and entertaining puzzle games I have played in years. It exudes the quirk and charm typically associated with some of Nintendo’s most popular IPs, so I hope this isn’t the last we see of Sushi Striker and its adorably odd world.