Hungry Sumo on iPhone: You'll be hungry for more games like this

Hungry Sumo on iOS
Hungry Sumo on iOS

Have you ever looked at a browser game and thought to yourself, "Man, I would love this game on my phone?" (Ahem, Bejeweled Blitz.) New Zealand-based Flash game developer Ninja Kiwi co-founder Chris Harris exactly that to himself after Hungry Sumo hit the web. Once featured as our Game of the Day, Hungry Sumo has been rereleased on the App Store for $.99. But don't call it a port.

No, no--this touch-based version of the delightful Flash sumo-smasher brings plenty more to the table like new levels, mini games and full Game Center support. The basic gameplay remains as you left it, but with one small change: Rather than hover over your sumos with the mouse to make them grow, you press their buoyant bellies. (It's kind of a given, but it changes the experience nevertheless.)


Just like before, you'll master art of timed rice shoveling so as to not grow while touching enemy sumos, which instantly transforms your sumo into one of them. Of course, the showcase of enemies returns, like statue sumos that will--surprise--turn your sumo to stone if you touch them while munching. Another notable is the ghost sumo, which fades in and out of visibility.

New power-ups have made into the game too: Double Damage, Sushi Storm, Edamame and Zen Time. However, going after them can be quite a pain, as you have to eating while touching them to gain their benefits. Ultimately, they serve as a distraction from the task at hand. But there's something adorable about the determined face that overcomes the sumo once he eats that onigiri (Japanese rice ball) that's too cute to pass up.

Hungry Sumo Street Fatter
Hungry Sumo Street Fatter

To break the potential monotony of tapping sumos' tummies all day, Ninja Kiwi threw in four mini games to mix things up. First, Slice-A-Sumo has players chopping flying sumos and avoiding the good guys. (Sound familiar?) Whack-A-Sumo is essentially Whack-A-Mole, but with sumos--again, watch out for the pink sumos. Sushi Sumo is an homage to pachinko in which you choose one spot to drop a sumo from in order to hit as many bonuses as possible. Finally, Street Fatter challenges players with tapping a vending machine as many times as possible in 60 seconds to feed your portly pugilist.

Admittedly, a few of those concepts have been done before, but they at least serve to break the tedium that can result from tapping sumos for hours. And once you unlock all four in the games standard mode (every five levels you're treated to a mini game), you can play them whenever from the game's home screen--Street Fatter is particularly entertaining. Of course, each little romp is a fine source for achievements, if you're into that sort of thing.

"Now, whenever we put anything on iPhone or anywhere that's not just Flash, we make a point of adding new content that is over and above," Ninja Kiwi co-founder Chris Harris tells us. "I definitely feel that the iPhone [Ninja Sumo] is vastly superior to the Flash version."

Hungry Sumo in action
Hungry Sumo in action

This is one of the year's biggest releases for Ninja Kiwi, and it does fit the iPhone like a glove. At the moment, this is what mobile social gaming is all about: gunning for that high score or achievement while you have a minute (and bragging to your friends about it). That said, Hungry Sumo is certainly worth your buck. But Ninja Kiwi has bigger plans for 2011, like an overhaul of its website to include Game Center-like features such as profiles and leaderboards, but the company's vision is a bit broader than that.

"Flash games have been looked upon by many as the poor cousin of the gaming industry," Harris admits. "It's where you roll out concepts and quick and dirty ideas before polishing them perhaps for something else in another environment. We've done our best certainly in a game [that] we're hopefully about to release very shortly will finally prove to the world that Flash can be more than that. When you get one of your existing IPs on your phone that you can then walk it around and show people, there's something really, really cool about that."

Click here to download Hungry Sumo for iOS Now for $.99 >

Have you ever played Hungry Sumo before on or Ninja Kiwi? What do you think of the game as a fit for mobile or Facebook (Harris says don't count it out)? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment