Sushi is a fairly divisive type of food – after all, raw fish was never going to be something everyone was going to adore.
Mezmedia’s Sushi Showdown, on the other hand, has attempted to make the aquatic foodstuff the basis of a game that appeals to all.
A fast-paced action experience that involves you destroying armies of sushi with touch screen taps, the game is an enjoyably silly slice of iOS fun.
John Ng, director at Mezmedia, talked to us about the game’s Yakuza-based inspirations, the power of a good pun, and the studio's plans for the title.
Scaling it up
Sushi Showdown is a fairly straightforward game in terms of setup – tap the sushi before it gets to the rice basket on the far side of the screen - but it offers up more than enough challenge to maintain your interest.
“We designed each sushi foe to fulfil a specific purpose,” Ng says. “Some of them are tough to kill, some are fast, some come en masse, some deal a lot of damage, and so on. We did not want a game where players button-mash their way to victory.
“A large part of the game's development time was spent balancing the levels, making sure that the win can be achieved only by purchasing special items and being strategic when it comes to using them in-game,” Ng adds.
Fishing for inspiration
The game has some undeniably solid gameplay mechanics behind it, but how exactly did the actual idea behind the marauding sushi come about?
“There are a couple of hardcore cooking enthusiasts in the team,” explains Ng, “and the breakthrough came about when we realised that the enemies could be, well, anything. Even food. Then someone mentioned Sushi and the Yakuza. We thought getting non-threatening sushi to behave like gang members would be hilarious.”
In terms of Sushi Showdown’s design, a very popular genre in the App Store also proved influential.
“In essence, almost every tower defence game there is out there was an inspiration,” Ng says, “Cooking Mama as well. All of us at Mezmedia loved that game.”
Reeling them in
One of the game’s most notable strengths is its presentation. From the wonderfully bizarre opening cut-scene (see the trailer below) to the crisp and colourful artstyle the game oozes personality.
Ng claims that a lot of care ended up going into the design of the sushi itself, and is the part of the game that his team are most proud of.
“We really loved the characters, especially the Bosses,” says Ng. "The research that went into it was actually quite in-depth. We wanted them to be as authentic as possible. "Take the Boss Udon for example - the pattern on the bowl was inspired by Yakuza tattoos. But instead of fearsome dragon, it's a Bonita fish, the mainstay of Japanese cuisine.”
For goodness sake
There’s an almost endless stream of puns between levels to enjoy as well, with Ng explaining that his team had great fun thinking up the groan-inducing jokes.
“It took us weeks of thinking up bad puns and eyeball-rolling at each other,” Ng says. “The worst, or in this case the 'best,' made it into the game. My personal favourite is when the salmon sushi says, 'There is Norway for you to escape. Time to Finnish this.’”
Netting a large audience
Ng does say that simple but compulsive titles such as Sushi Showdown look to be a sensible way forward for smaller developers to make an impact on the App Store - but attention to detail is still key.
“Users are getting more sophisticated and demand more out of casual games than ever,” says Ng. "We think the way forward will have to be increasing production values and polish, along with multiplayer mechanics.”
Future content for Sushi Showdown is planned, with an upcoming update allowing you to unlock a couple of bonus levels when you complete specific achievements.
“Think the 'Cow Level' in Diablo 2,” Ng explains, “but with hordes of sushi! It'll be fun.”