Inside Pulse 12

Review: Sushi Go Round (Nintendo Wii)

Sushi Go Round
Developer: Southpeak Games
Publisher: Southpeak Games
Genre: Casual/Simulation
Release Date: 03/30/10

The porting of internet Flash games onto consoles and portables appears to have become a trend, as Line Rider 2 received such treatment on the DS and Wii. Both versions were summarily panned. Sushi Go Round started out as a flash game on Miniclip and now has a retail release as well. Will this port turn out any better, or should Flash games just stay on the internet browser of your choice?

Some semblance of a story was added to this version, which can be summed up as thus: guy sees pretty girl, guy’s friend tells him she likes sushi, guy decides to open a restaurant to win her over, little old man calling himself a sushi master pops up and takes him under his wing. There’s very little development outside of that, and it merely serves as an excuse to open newer and better restaurants. Story mode contains a total of 40 days, with a boss every four days that orders multiple dishes at once. To move on to the next day, you have to meet a cash target and keep the boss happy whenever one shows up. You’re given three lives, and each time you fail a day you use up one life. If you use up all your lives you have to start all over again.

Besides the story mode, there’s five other modes. In endurance mode, you serve endless waves of customers, and the game ends if one of them walks out. In time attack mode, you try to earn as much as possible within a time limit. In forbidden mode, you’re shown two items that you are not to make, even if a customer orders them. In puzzle mode, throngs of customers come in and place orders instantly. With endless mode, you simply serve customers as long as you please. Finally, multiplayer mode is exactly what it sounds like – you compete with another player to earn as much money as possible. The attempt at adding variety is nice, though they feel a bit redundant.

The game’s graphics did receive some touch-ups in the transition from flash game to console game, though they don’t exactly capitalize on the Wii’s graphical capabilities. The dishes and ingredients are fairly easy to distinguish, though the font can get hard to read at times, especially the yellow font on a brightly colored background indicating how much money a customer just gave you. The story scenes unfold through comic book format, and while they look alright, many of the same scenes are repeated, only with different text in the word bubbles, sometimes not even that much. Similarly, the customers have little variation among them, and it’s not uncommon to see multiple people with identical faces at once. They resemble bobbleheads, with big heads and small bodies to with big hands, and the way chewing is animated looks odd. The soundtrack consists of about two tracks, and while neither are nails-on-chalkboard bad, it does become rather dull listening to the same tunes over and over. The customers make little noises to indicate their mood and when they’re ready to order or have finished eating, though they sound more like animals than humans.

Sushi Go Round plays much like a merge of Diner Dash and Cooking Mama; like in Diner Dash, you take customers’ orders and try to keep them happy and get them their food quickly, and as in Cooking Mama, you assemble various combinations of ingredients to create different dishes. You simply point the Wiimote at one of the ingredients laid out, press A to place it on the mat, and swing the Wiimote to roll everything up and send it down the conveyor belt. The control scheme is pretty simple and works well enough, though you do have to be careful about how you move your Wiimote when picking ingredients because the game sometimes registers Wiimote movement as a swing, resulting in a plate of mishmash making its way down the conveyor belt and wasted ingredients. You’ll often find yourself running out of ingredients, especially the rice and nori since they’re used in everything. You order more ingredients by clicking on the phone, and you can choose between normal delivery, which is free but is slower, and express delivery, which is near instantaneous but comes attached with a 50 yen fee. If you forget how to make a dish, you can consult the recipe book at any time, but time will continue to pass (and customers will start to get grumpy) as you do, so lingering too long would be unwise.

As customers come in, you give them a menu and wait while they decide what to order. They have a happiness meter that decreases the longer they wait. You can give them sake by dragging it over to them, but that will only mollify them temporarily. After customers are done eating, you have to clear away the used dishes so the next customers have a place to sit. There’s a lot of multitasking and some memorization involved, and it can feel overwhelming at first if you’ve never played the flash version or aren’t used to this type of task juggling. But if you’ve played this game (or either of the aforementioned games, particularly any of the Diner Dash games) before, you should be able to adjust quickly.

What you see is what you get – there’s nothing to unlock, and even beating the story mode only nets you a scene that might make you go, “I did all this work just for that?” and a game over screen. You can always try to aim for higher scores, and the various game modes do provide somewhat new spins on the gameplay. You can also practice to find ways to streamline your sushi making and to challenge yourself with goals like minimizing usage of the express delivery option, or go head to head in multiplayer mode if you have anyone around to play with. If none of that sounds appealing to you, however, then there’s little reason to go back to this game.

There’s four difficulty levels (easy, medium, hard, and master), and they actually do manage to be differentiable, especially the higher difficulties. In story mode, the difficulty climbs gradually, starting with simple dishes and very patient customers but then proceeding to more complicated dishes and customers who seem allergic to any kind of wait. It is possible to successfully complete a day even if some customers leave, though as the cash target rises, the margin for error decreases. It does get somewhat frustrating to have a customer storm out right as their dish is moving in front of them or to have another customer snatch the dish meant for a customer that’s been waiting longer, but neither of these are impossible to circumvent with some practice and a bit of thought. Here’s a hint: after you give the customers a menu and they place an order, their happiness level will reset to max when they order. Trust me, you’ll be taking advantage of this in harder levels.

There’s something about games like this, games with simple rules yet also call for a dash of strategy, that keeps you hooked for hours. I’d keep finding myself saying “Just one more round…” and before I knew it, I’d gone through more rounds than I’d intended. However, I found my arm getting tired after a while, so that limited any sushi making marathons. Nonetheless, after I’d taken a break, I’d still come back and try to improve my profit margin and minimize the number of disgruntled customers walking out.

The game has been around for quite a while, so it’s hard to really call it original. But then, considering the pick up and play nature of the game and the fact that casual games tend to appeal to a wide group of people, this should sell decently. The fact that it’s a port works both for and against it; on the one hand, some people might look at this and go, “I can play this online for free, why bother?”, but on the other hand, it did garner enough attention for a commercial port, which indicates just how many people it can draw in and how wide an audience this is marketable to.

Even if you’ve played the flash game to death, this could still be worth a look if the appeals to you. They did put in new modes, recipes, and levels and gave the game a bit of a face lift rather than just shove the game onto a disc, slap a label on it, and call it a day. One useful thing about this version is that your progress is automatically saved (unless you run out of lives), so you can play for a bit, then pick up where you left off. In the flash version, you had to start all over again if you failed even once. If you’d like to draw your own comparisons, you can check out the flash version here or on the game’s official website.

The Scores
Story/Modes: Mediocre
Graphics: Mediocre
Sound: Below Average
Control and Gameplay: Good
Replayability: Decent
Balance: Above Average
Originality: Poor
Addictiveness: Enjoyable
Appeal Factor: Good
Miscellaneous: Enjoyable
FINAL SCORE: DECENT GAME

Short Attention Span Summary:

Much like its flash counterpart, Sushi Go Round is a nice time waster. There’s enough new content that you could still find this a worthy purchase even if you’ve played the flash version ad infinitum, and it’s still easy to while away hours with this game. However, if the flash version didn’t appeal to you, this won’t change your mind.

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