The Way of Sushido is looking promising on the Switch.
When Sushi Striker was revealed for 3DS at E3 2017, it just seemed weird. Made by indieszero (the studio responsible for Theatrhythm Final Fantasy and the NES Remix games), it was pitched as an action-puzzle game where you threw sushi at opponents. Even when the game resurfaced earlier in 2018 as both a Switch and 3DS release, the concept was hard to grasp from videos.
At this point I’ve played and watched close to a dozen frenzied matches and the potential glory of Sushi Striker is starting to click with me. A learning curve is definitely present, something well represented by my initial playthrough of Nintendo’s PAX East show floor demo. My letter grade for the four stages I played went from D rank to C to B to A. By the end of that demo, I grasped the basics and was raring for more.
The screen shows seven conveyor belts that alternate in direction. Three are on your side, three on your opponents, with one shared in the middle. Your goal is to furiously move around the four belts you can access and select matches of sushi plates across them. Bigger chains are naturally better, but you only have about seven seconds before your chain falls apart. When you match plates, they enter stacks at the bottom, where different colored sushi can be accumulated for more damage and bonuses. Those bottom stacks can be thrown towards your opponent with a tap of a button. Generally, it’s best to wait for them to grow in size before being unleashed.
Movement is constant in Sushi Striker, and that’s how I survived in my initial play. I made whatever moves I could, matching about two to four plates at a time. It worked in the early goings. Playing more of the game in multiplayer showed me that that might not be the optimal strategy. So much more is in play. It’s better to try to hold off for larger chains, even if means you have to stay put for a second or two.
Special abilities can also be used to augment and buff your matching and attacks. I had three different types in the demos I saw. One allowed me to match every sushi plate on the board temporarily, while another changed the sushi plates to desserts that could be used to heal. The third was an electric shock attack that multiplied the damage when plates were thrown, and when stacking that with a large pile it resulted in massive damage. While I didn’t see these in action, more are in the game, used to customize your character to fit your preferred play style. Some of the others reflect attacks, do double damage, or throw up a shield.
I primarily played using button controls, which relied on moving around the belts with the analog stick, holding down A to start chains, and using the shoulder buttons and the D-pad to execute special abilities. Touch screen controls are also present in handheld mode, and I have a feeling my preferred method of play might be a mixture of the two, since dragging a finger to select chains felt natural in my brief time with it.
With those action-puzzle mechanics as the base, Sushi Striker also seems to have a story that is super anime. I didn’t see much that I could make sense of, but it’s filled with larger-than-life characters and shockingly intricate animated cutscenes. The whole thing gave me flashbacks to Puyo Puyo Tetris’ ridiculous story, which served as a really good surrounding for excellent puzzling. I hope Sushi Striker’s story does the same, giving me an enjoyable context to mess around with the potentially deep and engrossing puzzle concepts.
The demo we saw only featured some story levels (including a boss battle) and local wireless multiplayer, but the final game will feature split-screen and online multiplayer. Here’s hoping the promise shown at PAX East 2018 is reflected in the final game. Even if Sushi Striker is a little challenging to play on an empty stomach, the basic action-puzzle concept is ripe with potential.
Sushi Striker will release June 8 2018 on both 3DS and Switch.