Sushi Bar Express – Switch Review

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I was fortunate to look at Sushi Bar Express, a new simulation game that is sure to make you want to quit your career and become a sushi chef. Sushi Bar Express is brought to you by Funbox media, a well-established publishing company that has brought you the likes of Bibi & Tina: New Adventures with horses, and quirky games like Pretty Girls Games Collection 3. You can grab Sushi Bar Express for £24.99 on the Switch store.

Are you a Cooking Mama fan looking for a new challenge?

Being quite a big Cooking Mama fan, I was extremely excited to find out that a similar game was being released that focused completely on sushi. Although I myself do not like sushi, I was pleasantly surprised. If you are a fan of these types of simulation games, let me know below if you are excited to play Sushi Bar Express. Or if you have already played it, let me know your thoughts.

A map showing the different stages of the game as you work your way to becoming a top sushi chef.
How far will you make it?

Gameplay

You begin the game as an inspiring sushi chef, who has started at the bottom of the food chain. Your task, with the help of your two masters, is to make your way to the top. This is done by completing 40 levels. These 40 levels are split between 5 restaurants, which are seen just before the start of each level. You can keep track of your progress easily, as seen above. When you complete a level, your player will move a step closer. Hopefully ending with you become a top sushi chef.

You are introduced to the game through a tutorial, It explains how to make sushi with specific equipment. For example, in some dishes you are required to use a big knife in order to make the dish, while other dishes require the use of a smaller knife. You are penalised if you use the wrong knife, which results in the master shouting at you; you become embarrassed and red in the face. Which, in turn, means you lose approximately 5 seconds as you are not allowed to carry on with the order whilst this happens. Therefore it is important to remember which dish can be used with what knife. In addition to this, if you place the wrong dish on the wrong plate, or accidentally press the wrong bowl when pouring tea for example, again you will be penalised.  However, the game makes it incredibly easy to complete dishes, with the only reason I was penalised was due to my fat fingers rather than actually making an error.

Shows the player making dishes that the customers have requested.
The Sushi Master watching with a keen eye.

No Time To Delay!

Whilst making these dishes you are on a time crunch, this is through two ways. Firstly, the Sushi restaurant is only open for a period of time. You have to quickly make the dishes to move onto a new order, to make profit. Profit benchmarks increase every level, making it slighter harder. The other way you are on a time crunch is through the hearts that are displayed at the bottom of the dishes. The hearts slowly slip away the longer the customer is waiting. This means the longer they have to wait, the fewer hearts they will give. Which adds to the overall score that is displayed at the end of the level. The quicker you complete orders means more hearts and more profit, which adds to your overall score. There is an incentive to get a better overall score, as the higher the score means the higher amount of money that can be gained in order to improve your equipment and add new dishes to your game.

Flying Coins?

Another way to gain coins to improve your equipment and dishes is to watch out for the flying coins that fly slowly past your screen multiple times throughout a level. It is as simple as clicking on the coins to grab them, and due to how slow they fly, it makes it incredibly hard to not miss. If you collect enough coins, at the start of every level you are taken to the sushi store which is run by your male master. Here you can buy new dishes that can increase the difficulty of your game. I personally think this is a good addition to the game. This is because if you are to play the game for 40 levels, it can come somewhat repetitive just by making the same dishes over and over again. By adding in the shop, with coins that are gained through playing the game, adds a new level of fun. Seen as though you will want to gain more coins in order to unlock all the game has to offer.

The sushi store where players can buy new dishes and equipment that helps them be the sushi master.
What will you buy first?

Controlling made easy

The controls for this game are relatively simple, which means it is easily accessible for all members of the family.  It is as simple as moving the analogue stick to the required parts of the dish and pressing A. There was an issue whereby I found the movement of the analogue stick to be painfully slow. I, Instead, used the touch screen mechanic, which drastically improved my playing experience. I felt by using the touch screen I was able to make my way through the dishes as a faster pass, that was more comfortable. However, if the analogue stick was continued to be used, I felt like it would add an extra level of difficulty. As the time used to use the analogue stick would result in fewer dishes being made, making it more difficult.

In addition to this, I felt like the controls were almost too simple at times. It is really hard to play games like this without relating it and comparing it to Cooking Mama. I felt like maybe it could’ve had a harder difficulty. Such as actually cutting the meat by cutting through the touch screen or a rolling the sushi. However, it could be argued that perhaps this makes the game more accessible and family-friendly.

Graphics & Audio

Sushi Bar Express is currently only available on Switch. Switch was the perfect platform for a game like this. As I believe that this game is the perfect game used to pass time when sitting on the train, or even just laying in bed. The most joy I had with the game was when I was playing it in bed before I went to sleep. Having it on a device which is so easily accessible adds to the overall feel of the game. I did not run into any frame rate issues or graphical glitches. I felt the game ran relatively smoothly, with load times being relatively quick.

The cartoonish style was perfect for this game, not making it overly serious. I enjoyed the character design of the “sushi master” who is always watching keenly over you.  I feel that in your imagination that is how you would imagine a sushi master to look, and I felt like that was represented well through his character. In addition to this,  I also enjoyed the little added extra of the waving cats. With the idea that more could be purchased through the store, I just felt it was a little detail that again added to the game.

Better soundtrack required?

In terms of audio, I did not enjoy the soundtrack. I felt that the soundtrack for a sushi bar did not work very well. I thought that the soundtrack was going to be more representative of audio that you would perhaps hear in a sushi bar. However, it seemed that the soundtrack was just put there almost to fill a gap. They have added in little sound effects which relate to when the player is making the sushi. Cutting the sushi, the sound of a knife hitting the chopping board can be heard. And sometimes it is little things such as this that can add to the overall theme of the game.

Lastly, there was no character audio. Although I feel like for a game such as this, it is not necessarily needed, as it does not add to the overall feel of the game.

Longevity

There is certainly the idea of replay ability with Sushi Bar Express. This is due to the fact you can buy new dishes and equipment. Of course, a game which focuses on time management skills will take players different times to complete, dependent on how fast you can complete the art of making sushi.  It took me just under 10 hours to complete the main story of the game. However, I was able to complete the majority of the levels the first time, this may differ for other players. I however do believe in terms of longevity, you are getting your money’s worth. Especially with the fact you could play again if this is a genre of game that you love.

End of level score showing the player get the "master" level for their performance.
Can you become a master?

Final Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed Sushi Bar Express, which is no surprise considering that I love this genre of game.  However, it does not live up to the likes of Cooking Mama, however a fun addition to simulation cooking games. It should be checked out by the likes of young and old. It is definitely something that I will be continuing to play. Therefore, I will be awarding Sushi Bar Express with the Thumb Culture Silver Award.

 

Disclaimer: A code was received to write this review.

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