In a world where many people strive for edgy and mature content, sometimes, it can’t hurt to go back and enjoy the stupid stuff. Because let us be honest: this game’s design concept is quite weird. Fighting people by eating sushi and throwing plates? That can’t be anything worthwhile, right? Luckily, this game is no dumb fun like you’d expect. Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is no mundane lunch, but an exquisite 4-star diner that’ll leave you craving for a second serving.
While the game’s main concept may be unconventional, the story it’s telling isn’t. It does have some wacky sushi worldbuilding and goofy characters to spice it up, which adds to the charm.
The game takes place in a world without fish, where sushi is so delicious it caused a war. This war, called the Sushi Struggles, was won by the Empire, who wished to keep all the sushi to themselves. They now control the Republic, where eating or talking about sushi is now illegal. That’s where an orphan lives whose parents died in the Struggles, our protagonist Musashi. At the start of the game, you can choose to play as a male or female Musashi. This only affects dialogue and not gameplay, so feel free to choose whatever.
Musashi meets a rare Sushi Sprite called Jinrai and sets out to free their mentor Franklin from the clutches of the Empire, end its monopoly over sushi, and bring the joy of sushi to all the children in the world. Throughout the journey, you’ll encounter new faces and learn more about this whacky world. The game doesn’t have a lot of plot twists, and the ones it does have are solid, and some are quite surprising, although not for the same reason. The story would be fairly bland, though, if it wasn’t for the writing, which is pretty solid and makes all the characters likable and memorable. The kids will love the story, while more older people will get a laugh out of it at some point. Lastly, it has a good message, meaning that this games’ narrative is truly one for all ages.
At the end of the day, puzzle games are not played for their story, and of course, this is where Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido shows its true strengths. The core of the game is connecting plates filled with sushi of the same color, eat said sushi, and throwing the stack of plates in the face of your opponent. Beating a foe unlocks the next puzzle, which can be accessed on the map. On this map, you can see the world and replay missions if necessary.
Of course, matching colors isn’t as simple as it seems, so let’s dive deeper into the combat. Every match is a 1v1. Each Sushi Striker has 3 lanes where sushi can spawn, with one shared lane where both Strikers can eat from. The goal is always to link plates of the same color and create as high a tower of plates as possible. These stacks can then be thrown to deal damage. Both you and your foe have a health bar, and getting your HP to 0 means defeat, while getting your opponent’s to 0 means victory. The basic color-matching has some additional elements to make the basic experience more interesting, such as glowing plates that can be linked with any color. In addition, not touching any buttons speeds up the lanes, allowing you to wait for better color combinations to create better matches. This technique is called “Lane Drive”.
Next up, let’s talk about the role of sushi in the game. You can trigger a Sushi Jubilee by eating enough sushi, which gives you incredibly useful buffs for 12 seconds. Lastly, there are also combos to abuse, but that’s for you to uncover.
For those who feel like it, there are also touchscreen controls if you play handheld, allowing you to more accurately create chains. It’s a case of personal preference which one you pick. Touch controls can play quite clunky, but you can get used to it and master it. Feel free to experiment with both playstyles.
Sushi Strikers are pretty useless without sushi, so let’s talk about the Sushi Sprites. These ghost-like beings are capable of summoning an endless supply of sushi for your eating pleasure, both for feeding the hungry, or fight imperial soldiers and start a revolution. You know, what everyone would do.
Jinrai is the first Sushi Sprite you obtain and is certainly not the last. New sprites are acquired at random or through the story, who each give you different sushi to eat while fighting and different skills, and you can bring up to 3 sprites to a battle at once. Every sprite has a unique ability that is charged up during combat by eating a lot of sushi. When it’s ready, just click on the sprites’ corresponding button on the D-pad to activate it. These skills are the main customization in this game and the backbone of your strategy. These abilities vary from healing, damage buffs, enemy debuffs, and more. It’s all a matter of finding the playstyle that works for you and experimenting with all the different combinations, like combining multiple damage buffing skills to deal a significant amount of damage. But at the end of the day, the height of your stacks will still make the difference between defeat and victory, so cheesing it usually isn’t an option.
Lastly, your Sprites change the sushi that flows throughout the lanes. Leveling up your Sprites increases the quality of the sushi, and some sprites can even spawn fruit amongst the sushi, which heals you a bit when eaten. Higher-level Sushi Sprites even increases your defense, which increases your max HP. In addition, Musashi can also level up, increasing their Stamina (more HP) and Strength (more damage).
Your Sushi Sprites may be the core of your playstyle, but there are more options available to you. Lane-drive gear allows you to enhance the Lane Drive technique mentioned prior. You get better gear during the story, but there are specialized gears to customize Lane Drive to your liking.
Secondly, by eating enough sushi of one specific type, you can unlock that sushi’s Raw Power, which gives passive buffs. They are either permanent, fixed buffs or increase your stats throughout the match. At first, you might think these are useless, as the buffs aren’t that potent or are extremely situational, but that’s the thing. These buffs don’t work stand-alone, they are to be combined with your Sprite Skills, or to be used for specific situations. For instance, if you like to use the healing skill Sweets Paradise, you might want to use a Raw Power that increases the health you get by eating the sweets the skill spawns. Or maybe it’s the opposite, and your foe is using that skill a lot. Then you might want to use the Power that increases damage by 2% for every 60 plates you eat. The name of the game is using the right Raw Power for the right job.
However, there is one customization option that leaves a lot to be desired: the equipable accessories, and there aren’t a lot of options in this category. This is quite a shame, seeing how many other options are available to you using other systems. All you have are revival items, a score booster, and another method to acquire Sprites. Maybe these items aren’t meant to synergize with your kit, but it still feels disappointing that this system is so underutilized.
A varied diet lies at the base of a healthy lifestyle, and Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido is no different. There are many levels where hazards can spawn to make the fights more unique. Some plates require to be linked with a stack that contains 5 plates or more, that contains an item that can buff or debuff. For instance, bombs can spawn on your lanes. If you dismantle them with a high enough stack, it will damage the enemy. But if you fail to do so and the bomb disappears, you’ll get damaged instead. Or perhaps you’ll encounter a clock in the shared lane. Linking to it temporarily stuns the enemy, but you get timed out if the enemy links to it first.
Some battles in specific areas can also spawn wasabi on the plates, without sushi. If you eat it, you’ll get a short stun because it’s too spicy to handle. If you’re skilled enough, it’s possible to avoid them, but with button controls especially, it’s easy to grab one by accident. These hazards will keep you concentrated and ensure a diverse playthrough.
Lastly, we have the fights against gunners. The goal of these missions is to defeat the cannon before it charges up. Failure to defeat the cannon in time results in defeat. Often, there’ll be a wall moving in front of it, forcing you to time your attack right to even hit it. The person operating the cannon also has Sushi Sprites to try and make it difficult.
To complement the main course, there are also side dishes available to make sure you enjoy your experience. Completing an area and getting enough stars in said area unlocks a new chain of missions, awarding a sushi sprite upon completion. Next up, we have the Shrine Grove, a sort of hub-world where you can talk to people and find 2 side modes. First off, you have the Puzzle Hut: a mode focused on your linking skills. It gives you a bunch of plates in different colors you have to collect as fast as possible and only use 5 moves. It’s actually quite challenging, as the time limit is quite narrow, and some colors can’t be combined if there are other plates in the way, so you have to connect them in the right order.
There’s also online play if you have friends to compete against. There’s also random matchmaking, but since this game didn’t sell that well, finding a match is almost impossible. If you want to play with others, you should find someone to play IRL through split-screen or online.
If you like to 100% games, this game will surely keep you occupied. You always have to possibility to replay missions to get all the stars by completing mini-objectives during the fight, like making a set amount of glowing plates appear for example. You can also try to get the highest possible rank on every mission, namely rainbow rank. There is also an achievement system, called triumphs. Lastly, in the post-game, by giving enough Mysterious Stones (obtained from battles) to Archie’s restaurant in the Shrine Grove, you can unlock a new area, which gives you the Ultimate Lane Drive Gear, and access to daily missions upon completion, meaning that there’s a lot to do after the credits roll.
Graphics & Music
What is a luxurious meal without giving the eyes something to eat? Graphically, the game doesn’t push the Switch that far, but that’s not a problem seeing the nature of this game. This game has a strong anime-inspired art style, which fits the tone to a T and allows for goofy expressions. Combined with the good and varied character designs, this game is no eyesore. Most Sushi Strikers even have chopsticks sheathed as a sword!
The music is also quite good. The background music on the map is quite varied depending on the area and is quite memorable. The battle themes are good too. Lastly, the game has an opening every time you boot it up (it is skippable if you’re impatient) and the song is a true banger.
It’s always a shame when a jewel of a game goes unnoticed by the world. Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido has undeniable charm in both its characters, story, and puzzles which makes the experience a true feast at every step of the way. Combined with a ton of content for you to sink your teeth into and so many strategies to uncover, this game is definitely worth the money. The game does have some underutilized systems, and some plot points are quite generic, but these won’t hurt your experience. If the game looks appealing to you and you want a taste test, there’s a free demo on the Nintendo eShop.
Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido gets an 8/10.