Spoiler alert! Chop Sushi is still slightly buggy, even though Universomo has had months to works them out. But it’s cute, engaging, and—when it works—a lot of fun.
It’s game day Friday and I’m in a limbo between Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. So I’m going to look at a game I’ve always intended to review but never got around to.
It reminds me, in some ways, of a movie from the sixties called Billy Jack, which launched a hit song that made even less sense than “Macarthur Park”. The song was called “One Tin Soldier,” and I’ll let you look up the lyrics and see if you can figure them out.
Billy Jack was a man of peace who kung fu’d the crap of the bad guys at a time when Americans thought 007 karate chops were the definitive martial art. He made sure to tell people to peace out just before he crushed their breastplates with his back kicks.
Chop Sushi reminds me of Billy Jack. In Chop Sushi, Master Chef uses Zen to help the people he meets overcome their demons. Zen battle, that is.
I don’t know how people came to equate promoting peace with pain and destruction, but it seems to be an essential contradiction to the American psyche. That and the belief that the love of money is the root of all evil as long as you can make enough money to afford it.
I downloaded Chop Sushi soon after I bought my iPad. It was buggy when I first played it, and now it has different bugs. But it’s still kind of fun, so I thought I would look at it.
At its heart, Chop Sushi is a match-three game just like Treasures of Montezuma, which I reviewed last week and 10 Talismanswhich I reviewed in October. But the match-three game is buried within a lot of animation and puzzle-solving.
If that isn’t enough, Chop Sushi features match-three chopstick combat against a series of computer opponents. Each opponent has demons that can only be cured with sushi fu and your job is to drive their demons away.
Chop Sushi’s plot line is thin. Master Chef, a fish who is also a sushi chef, travels from island to island confronting people driven to despair by their friends, passions or jobs. Only hand-to-hand combat will cure them.
Master Chef must drive each opponent’s demons away.
The combat occurs across a seven by seven board filled with a variety of objects. Most of the objects are stones, which can’t be matched. However, as a tile opens it may also be filled one one of several objects. Sushi creates normal matches, but the real power comes when you match three or more wasabi, fugi or fish.
Special matches increase your strength or weaken your opponent’s. The key is to boost your points and reduce your opponents to zero. If you succeed you drive away your opponent’s demons; if you lose you have to fight him again.
To really make the game a challenge, the moves you can make are restricted. You can only make a match by moving a piece the the edge of the board, which means only four moves are available for any piece. On top of that, you have to grab the sushi with chopsticks.
This match three game requires chopsticks and restricts which pieces can be moved.
Challenges and recipes
Just to tweak an already strange game, Universomo tossed in sushi recipes. Success at certain levels allows you to purchase new sushi recipes, which increase the power of combinations. The recipes can increase your strength, set traps for your opponent or trigger special events (like matching every piece in a row).
The catch is, once you buy a recipe, your opponent can use it too. Now, not only do you have to worry about what moves your turn might set up for your opponent, you have to make sure you don’t make a move that backfires on you.
Your successes allow you to purchase cool sushi recipes and puzzle challenges.
You can also purchase additional puzzles that range from easy to challenging. But even the easy puzzles require thought, requiring you to line up all of the matches with one or two moves.
The game still crashes occasionally, although not as much as it did in earlier releases. What may be more annoying is the lengthy transition between levels. When you master a level you have to jump in the ocean and swim to another island. In the middle of each swim, Master Chef climbs on a rock to announce his zen mastery to the world.
I could excuse this if it was a cover for loading the data for the next level. But no, after Master Chef leaps back into the water to complete his swim, the game still displays the load progress bar.
Every completed level features an annoying scene with Master Chef crowing over his victory.
Just like you would expect from a Zen Master.
The graphics are garish and cartoonish, but they integrate nicely into the game concept and game play. It’s nice to see a game where the graphics and animation contribute so much to the game itself. I’ve played more complex and challenging games, but months after the download I still like to play a couple of levels of Chop Sushi when I have nothing better to do.
Jenny Manytoes rates Chop Sushi
Jenny Manytoes would purr next to Chop Sushi. And it’s not just because she likes fish.