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Review: Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido (Nintendo Switch)By JunkSnail At 07.06.2018 12:41

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Sushi Striker's ridiculous nature is evident from the very beginning, complete with its own anime-style opening and hyped-up Japanese theme song (with lyrics all about sushi, of course). This vibe doesn't let up once the single-player campaign starts up, either, with a suitably wild plot that picks up in a devastated feudal Japan that has suffered the effects of a great sushi-centric war and where sushi is now banned. It falls upon protagonist Musashi to take on a new role as part of the Sushi Liberation Front, a group dedicated to spreading the joys of sushi to the dejected people of the land.

It's a storyline that never takes itself too seriously, delivering hammed-up scenes with a consistent knowing glance to the audience. The plot genuinely becomes deep as it goes along, delivering some surprising twists, alongside its comedic edge, in the form of some fantastically designed characters, all with their own sushi-related quirks; for instance, one of them is obsessed with wasabi, while another considers herself above eating salmon and has banned it in her district.

It's a surprising amount of effort to go to for what is ostensibly a match-up puzzler. For the meat (or fish, rather) of the gameplay, Musashi is behind three conveyer belts across which roll plates of sushi on colour-coded plates. Using the touch screen (or, for those wishing for a more traditional control scheme, the Joy-Con), the player matches up chains of similarly-coloured plates, eats the sushi, and flings the plate at the opponent to deal damage.

It's a fairly simple scheme that at first glance seems almost too basic to stay fun over the course of the game's length, but luckily Sushi Striker is never short of fresh ideas to keep things interesting. First of all is the inclusion of "sushi sprites," Pokémon-esque creatures that each possesses a different skill, such as speeding up the sushi belt or blocking the opponent's view. There are a surprising amount of them to collect and, although the designs at first seem a little minimalistic and lacking, their evolved forms are much more developed.

There are also various other complications throughout the campaign, such as items that scroll across the conveyer to play havoc; bombs will deal damage unless they are cleared in a specific time, whilst lightning bolts will either harm the player or the opponent depending on when they are used. Battles that utilise these mechanics are few and far between, but they do their best to break up the monotony that does unfortunately pervade the latter part of the story mode.

The campaign itself is frustratingly short - for a full retail game, the fact that it can be blown through in around seven hours is a concern - but also mercifully so, as it seems to end just as Sushi Striker is running out of ideas (the last area of the game is dedicated entirely to repeating old mechanics). Thankfully, there are a number of extra modes - each stage has three different missions to complete, as well as a puzzle mode that challenges gamers to strategically clear entire walls of plates in rapid succession, and some pretty solid multiplayer options (including online functionality).

It may not last particularly long, but what is on offer is wrapped up in an exceptionally endearing package. From the aforementioned anime sequence to the character art itself, all of the graphics are bright, colourful, and expressive, while the soundtrack is consistently pleasant (complete with two specially-crafted anime-style vocal songs). It's a level of polish and charm that's reminiscent of Nintendo's more creative efforts in the GameCube era, with experimental efforts like Animal Crossing and Doshin the Giant finding a home - and it can only be hoped that this is the start of a creative renaissance for the company.

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Final Score
Its premise may border on ridiculous, but behind its wacky veneer, [i]Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido[/i] hides an expansive package. Despite its short runtime, there's a lot of charm packed into its campaign, and plenty to do once the credits have rolled. The easy-to-learn, hard-to-master control scheme ensures it's accessible to everyone, whilst the replayability and multiplayer (including a function that allows two players to use the same console in tabletop mode) solidify its place as a consistent pick-up-and-play staple for the Nintendo Switch library.

8

/10

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