Developer: Design Symphony
Publisher: Ayopa Games
Platforms: iPhone (reviewed), iPad
Release Date: December 20, 2012
Price: $0.99 – Available Here
What do you get when you cross Plan 9 from Outer Space with Jiro Dreams of Sushi and set it all in a runner game? You would end up with Sushi Hero, the newest game from Design Symphony and Ayopa Games. Sushi Hero serves up something with bright flavors, though it may ultimately leave a bitter taste in the mouths of some.
Players take on the roll of a nameless sushi chef. Before each level begins, you’re given a shopping list of three types of fish to kill and how many of each breed you need to slaughter.
When the clock starts, you run continually from left to right, touching the left side of the screen to jump or double jump and the right side of the screen to chop away with your cleaver. As you progress through each level, you can earn point multipliers by stringing together kill combos.
You start each level with a full heart, but each hit from an electric eel, urchin, or poisonous fish will knock off a quarter of your health. There are hearts you can pick up to restore some health. You can also snag a bite of wasabi which will allow you to ‘spit fiyaah,’ taking out everything in your path for a few seconds.
There are twenty levels to play through, each with three difficulty settings. Each level takes around a minute to clear, so if you only have a couple of minutes in line at the supermarket you can finish a stage or two. Players should have no problem beating the game under an hour, but that will only get you a third of the achievements.
Taking down a whole string of fish and working up to an 80-kill combo feels great, and timing a couple of dodges in a row is quite satisfying. The problem is that the sushi list you’re given for each level feels virtually irrelevant. You end up running through each world trying to kill anything and everything that gets in your way, regardless of what breed it is. The only penalty you incur is that you must replay a level if you die or fail to kill everything on your list. It can also become blindingly frustrating to play levels with a dark background, especially later in the game, since every fish that can harm you is also black or dark gray.
Audio & Visual
Sushi Hero has an amusing visual aesthetic. Character designs feel like something from a Saturday morning cartoon, with bright colors and funny looking teeth and eyes. The animation also feels wonderful. Watching a pudgy sushi chef sprint across the world, legs flailing about as if independent from his body, helps reinforce the fun, lighthearted feel of the game. Each level has its own background art that helps it stand out. The only problem is that dangerous enemies blend into darker levels, making the game more frustrating than it should have been.
The music is fantastic. It does a great job setting up the idea that you’re getting ready to dig into something fast-paced and action-packed, with tight loops of trumpets, synth, and drums. Unfortunately there are only one or two tracks, so it will begin to feel old before you’ve beaten every level. The sound effects get the point across, but they do nothing in particular to add to the character of the game.
Sushi Hero is has a few shining moments but it’s not without a few flaws and frustrations. Levels will feel like they blend together and enemies blending into dark backgrounds becomes frustrating on more difficult stages. Unfortunately, Sushi Hero doesn’t do much to stand out from its competitors, but for those willing to try it out, they will find a fun, colorful, entertaining experience.