'Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido' Review: Fun, Deep and Sometimes Overly Complicated

9/10 (Switch)

Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is a new game for Nintendo Switch that was first revealed at E3 2017 as a 3DS title. The action-puzzle game featuring characters who fight with sushi looked like a fun and unique concept, and I can confidently say that it is. It offers enough depth to be both welcoming but also jarring.

STORY/PRESENTATION

The art style and visuals of Sushi Striker is something you'd see from a dubbed anime on Cartoon Network. It seems aimed at a younger audience, but isn't so off-putting that older players wouldn't enjoy it. The best visual comparison I can think of is the Yo-Kai Watch anime, especially with how the Sushi Sprites work within this world.

The story follows the orphan Musashi who lives in a world where sushi is regulated and controlled by the Empire. One day, Musashi meets a Sushi Striker who teaches him how to fight and believes that sushi is for everyone. This leads him to try and take down the Empire to bring the joy of sushi to the world.

You'll meet various characters and battle your way through different areas. The writing is simple and cheesy but I'd be lying if it didn't make me smirk, especially by the way the game points out some of the lapses in logic from certain characters.

There's plenty of twists and turns as Musashi continues to hone his Sushi Striker skills and befriends Sushi Sprites along the way.

sushi striker bad guys
You'll meet some interesting characters in 'Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido' Nintendo

CONTROLS/GAME MODES

During a press preview of Sushi Striker, I praised the game for offering different ways to play. You can use the joy cons (attached or detached to the Switch) or the touchscreen to match plates. While I found it easier and faster to match plates using the touchscreen, I appreciate that there are options.

Another reason why I preferred the touchscreen was how intuitive it was when my Sushi Sprite's special was ready to activate. The input on the controls to activate one of the three Sprites' special was simpler just tap the gauge that's full.

Sushi Striker has more than a story mode too. There's local and online multiplayer that works fairly well. During the press event the online didn't work as well, but with when more consoles get access to the game finding opponents shouldn't be a problem. It's also neat that you can play local multiplayer on one switch by splitting the joy con.

Another game mode is a survival/timed mode that pits players against a robot. Match all of the sushi using a set number of turns under a specific time and go for a winning streak.

Sushi striker sprite abiliity
The Sushi Sprites have abilities that can help you in battle. Nintendo

GAMEPLAY

The core aspects of Sushi Striker are simple. Match same-colored dishes as plates run along three lanes to create stacks and launch them at your opponent to drop their health to zero. That's the gist of the battling in Sushi Striker but what makes this game great (and sometimes overwhelming) is how deep it is and how it accommodates different playstyles.

Players have control over how high they want to stack their sushi plates. Do you create short stacks to deal quick damage? Do you stay patient and make large stacks to deal big damage? It's totally up to the player and Sushi Striker gives them the tools to succeed using all kinds of tactics, which is where all the depth comes in.

One layer of strategy found in Sushi Striker are the types of Sushi Sprites you take into battle. Players take up to three Sprites into battle and they come with their own special power and the type of sushi that comes down the lanes. There are Sprites that let players stack plates faster and those that disrupt the opponent. There are plenty of different strategies that can be formed using these Sushi Sprites.

Like Pokémon, Yo-Kai Watch and other monster capture games you can collect these Sushi Sprites and raise them by using them in battle. Leveling up Sushi Sprites increases their Defense (which affects the player's health) and can even awaken new forms. There are also ways to upgrade Sushi Sprites skills to increase their activation use or decrease the amount of matches needed to activate them. The type of sushi that the Sprites produce also change as they level up and seemingly adjusts to the types of sushi the player matches most in battle, leading to easier matchmaking.

Another aspect of the gameplay is how you use your favorite sushi. Matching a certain number of sushi will unlock a "Favorite Sushi" ability that can affect your stats in battle or even the amount of experience you earn after each fight. There are plenty of these passive abilities within the game that are easy to get, but they add a new layer of strategy that you may not realize.

The last aspect are the Lane Gears that affect how slow or fast lanes move in battle. You gain these special items in certain battles and by completing special tasks. There aren't a lot of these gears found in Sushi Striker, and their effect in battle may not seem apparent at first but there are plenty of chances during the story where players can test out various gears and Sushi Sprite combinations.

All of these pre-battle preparations are just a part of battling in Sushi Strike r. The battles themselves can take major turns that you may not see coming. You'll have plenty of normal battles, but the game does a great job of mixing in these special battles that add a new element like bombs, turrets, timers that can freeze opponents and even a paralyzing wasabi. These special battles keep the game fresh if you're planning on long gaming sessions and really tests your personal strategy. It's not uncommon for players to change their sprite team to accommodate for their opponent's.

I was worried that Sushi Striker would make me grind Sushi Sprite levels to defeat the stronger enemies you'll come across. However, even after a loss I didn't feel the need to grind, and I suspect players won't have to grind much (if at all) to adapt to the opponent's playstyle. Unless you're looking to train up a brand new Sushi Sprite whose level is 10 levels under the rest of the team, grinding wasn't an issue.

While Sushi Striker offers some surprisingly deep gameplay, it can be overwhelming especially at first. The battlefield isn't that large to begin with, and there are meters on every corner of the screen. Players are expected to keep an eye on their meters and their opponent's meter during battle and it can be a task. Thankfully, Sushi Striker eliminates the need for manual plate throws that alleviates one aspect of battle. If your table is full of stacks, the game will automatically launch a stack at the opponent.

However, expect to go through some growing pains when diving into your first few battles.

Sushi striker battle
This is how battles in 'Sushi Striker' look like. Nintendo

VERDICT

Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is the biggest surprise for the Switch this year. The visuals and story are fun and outrageous while the gameplay can be as casual or as complicated as players desire.

Players can easily make it through the story with a basic and simple strategy and setup while those who are looking for a more competitive challenge can still do so. While how well online battles work is still unknown, it's great that it puts everyone at the same level to keep it fair.

There's also hours of gameplay, aside from the story, including the various game modes and even collecting all the stars to 100 percent the game and unlock special Sushi Sprites.

If Nintendo decides to support the title with new Sprites or battles, Sushi Striker can easily become one of the best Switch titles when the year is up.

SUSHI STRIKER Player
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