Sushi Mushi on iOS might be too complex for its own good

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Earlier this month, we brought you a preview of Aspyr Media's newest iOS game Sushi Mushi, a competitive multiplayer puzzle game that recently launched on iTunes. We've had a chance to go hands-on with the final version of this game, mixing sushi-loving puzzle monsters and complex strategy, and have found that this is one experience that's easy to play but incredibly difficult to master.

Sushi Mushi sees players taking on strangers and friends alike (via Facebook Connect, email addresses, etc.). Each three-round match challenges two players to earn the most points as possible by tapping and dragging their finger over sushi pieces, each of which contains a shape in a specific color. Matches can only be made across sushi pieces that contain the same shape or the same color, and players will create different kinds of "sushi rolls" depending on the matches they make. For instance, a Feed Roll is one that's made up of four pieces of sushi of the same color, where each piece is represented by a different shape (square, circle, diamond, star, etc.).

While every roll created will technically give you points, you can also attack your opponent's points by creating Rob Rolls. Rob Rolls are created by making a match of four or more sushi squares, with all four colors being represented in the roll. Obviously, this means that you'd need to find four of the exact same shape, all in different colors, sitting right next to each other, which relies more on luck than skill. Other rolls like Dragon Rolls or Super Dragon Rolls are made with other requirements (like having a 14-piece sushi roll, for instance), but regardless of their function, all of these rolls combine to form a game with an incredibly steep learning curve.

It's much easier to focus just on color-matching squares while playing, rather than on the shapes a sushi piece may contain, and it's definitely possible to eliminate all other moves aside from these shape-based ones while playing, adding stress to an already stressful timed gameplay setup. A few power-ups are thrown in as you play, like bombs that destroy surrounding pieces or pieces of a particular color, but they never seem to be enough to really boost your progress to the next level. If anything, Sushi Mushi is a game that becomes better with practice, but is far too difficult to be instantly gripping.

Outside of general gameplay, there's an appreciated chat menu and gameplay manual, along with collectibles and the ability to level up your choice of sushi monster as you complete basic missions like "challenge a Facebook friend to a game."

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As with most new titles on iOS, Sushi Mushi comes with some launch bugs or overall annoyances, as missions that you've completed may never actually register as being completed, and the game's push notification noise (that plays on your device when you have a turn waiting for you) is downright annoying. There's even a long (too long) opening cinematic that plays each and every time you launch the app, and unless you tap to close it at just the right time, you're forced to watch the entire thing before you can actually play.

Fortunately, these issues can easily be removed in the future, and hopefully a more helpful gameplay tutorial will also be added to ease a new player into the experience. Until then, Sushi Mushi is one iOS game that's fun to try, but only because it's free. If you're ready to try Sushi Mushi for yourself, you can now download it now on iPhone and iPad.

Click here to download Sushi Mushi on iTunes >

What do you think of Sushi Mushi? Have you tried any similar competitive multiplayer games on iPhone or iPad? Sound off in the comments!
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