Sushi Mushi (iOS) Review
As a single player game for 99 cents, yes. As a multiplayer game with IAP, not so much.
Sushi Mushi is a multiplayer puzzle game where the object is to match sushi rolls. Each round opens with a screen full of sushi rolls that come in a variety of colors and shapes. You make matches by dragging your finger from along an adjacent string of sushi rolls of the same color or the same shape. When you make a match, the matching rolls are eliminated and the rolls above drop down to occupy their spaces Bejeweled style, but unlike Bejeweled there aren't any automatic cascading matches in Sushi Mushi. You play until the timer expires, at which point your points for the round are tallied. A match consists of three rounds, with the player who has amassed the highest point total at the end declared the winner.
In addition to the basic matches, there are two special match types in the game. The first is the 'feed roll', which is created by a match that of a single color that encompasses all four of the shapes in the game. After the round, feed rolls are eaten by your monster avatar for bonus points. The second special match is the 'rob roll', which is created by matching four rolls of the same shape but of different colors. At the end of the round, rob rolls cause your monster avatar to eat your opponent's sushi rolls, effectively allowing you to steal points from your opponent.
You can play the game against friends or random opponents, and the play is completely asynchronous. From the game's lobby screen you can see a list of your current games, and which are awaiting you to play a round and which are waiting on your opponents. You have a limited time to play your active rounds before the game decides to forfeit the match for you and add a loss to your record. I'm not really sure what that timeout period is, but if I didn't check in on the game several times a day I found myself forfeiting most of my random opponent matches.
While Sushi Mushi itself is a free game, it does have in-app purchases. Before each round you can spend coins for power-ups that will be active for that round. Some are of a minor benefit, such as the one that will highlight feed roll matches for you. One, however, is a huge boost to your potential score because it extends the timer for the round. If one player has the timer power-up active and the other doesn't, the player using the power-up is at a big advantage. While you can earn coins through play, the game doles them out at such a slow rate that they will only be occasionally available to you unless you spend money to buy more. So in Sushi Mushi, players willing to spend money for in-app purchases are at a decided advantage over those who don't.
Putting that imbalance aside, there's an even more fundamental issue with Sushi Mushi, namely if the two players are alternating turns and playing independently of each other then is the game really a multiplayer game? The game is enjoyable enough that it would be recommendable as a single player puzzle game, but instead it feels like you're forced into playing it against another player more to motivate you to buy coins to get a leg-up on your opponent than to make the game a truly competitive experience.
I like Sushi Mushi's playful art style and it's take on match-3 gameplay is fun, but this is really a single player puzzle game forced into a multiplayer mold. As a single player game I'd call it recommendable, but as a multiplayer game not so much so.
Final Rating: 68%
Transmitted: 4/16/2014 10:07:45 AM