If I’ve learned anything from The Sushi Spinnery, it’s that I’m a woefully uncreative sushi chef and that sushi restaurants have schedules on par with Bangladeshi sweatshops. However, whether these lessons are an accurate representation of owning a sushi restaurant is another matter.
The Sushi Spinnery is Kairosoft’s latest English-released management simulator for the iPhone. Most similar to Hot Springs Story, The Sushi Spinnery has you manage a piddling sushi restaurant that you must turn into a fish factory juggernaut.
As the owner of the restaurant, you can hire chefs, enter competitions, create new recipes, build and modify the sushi conveyor belt(s), and decorate to your heart’s desire. The game is an exciting, colorful, vivid, and somewhat whimsical business simulator, more divorced from the tongue-in-cheek metahumor of Kairosoft’s earlier simulators Game Dev Story and Pocket Academy. Instead, The Sushi Spinnery sparkles with equal parts childish delight and kitsch.
Part of The Sushi Spinnery’s major deviations from the older Kairosoft games is sushi coins. Second currency has always been a part of Kairosoft’s lineup – Game Dev Story used energy, for example – but this is the first time that the secondary currency is money. Getting creative requires a balance of both currencies, and the game’s lack of comprehensive tutorials can be frustrating for the first time player.
Like all Kairosoft games, the purpose is to become the national champion, and you’re graded and ranked by a national sushi review board. Advancing in the rankings requires a bit more involvement this time, as you’re marked on improvement from the previous year, not on your own standing position. This creates a need to constantly expand, which can become costly if you’re unfamiliar with or when to maximize your assets.
Visually, there’s no change. The game still uses the pixelated Habbo Hotel-esque look with top-left menus and simplified windows for all of its setup. The people are still rehashed, pixel-swapped versions of the same noseless 8-bit pins that you see in other Kairosoft games. This isn’t bad, per se – Kairosoft’s strong point is their addictiveness, not their graphical innovation, so none of this is a problem.
Gameplay-wise, the game is a mix between Pocket Academy and Hot Springs Story, where you manage large sections and periods of people at a time, but the requirements for success are a little more complicated. Because of the double-currency system, advancing to more complex recipes and doing well in competitions requires a bit more careful planning. Spacing and placing is also a bit more important in this game, since the smaller venues such as toy dispensers and game machines are some of the only reliable sources of the precious Sushi coins you need to advance. Long story short, you will likely still drop several hours at least on The Sushi Spinnery, if not exponentially more.
Overall, the game isn’t a wild, new departure from other Kairosoft games, at least not in the vein of Dungeon Village or Grand Prix Story. The game takes a workable blend of older Kairosoft games, mashes together some of them, and then ups the difficulty. Old concepts such as land expansion, worker scheduling, and side venue management are still integral parts of The Sushi Spinnery, just as how they’re part of Hot Springs Story, Game Dev Story, Pocket Academy, and Oh! Edo Towns. The hodgepodge setup is only a bit challenging for a first-time Kairosoft player. Nevertheless, you can easily get bogged down in the game’s feverish need to suggest needless upgrades, and the lack of in-depth tutorials means you are exposed to more functions than necessary for running a successful establishment.
This does not mean the game is difficult. None of Kairosoft’s games are that difficult. However, this does mean that the game seems to purposefully hide sometimes-critical information and strategy building from the player, whether for the sake of forcing them to figure it out or for the sake of design. Ultimately, the game is ‘Kairosoft’ through and through, bearing no major departures from its reputation for addicting games.