As any sushi chef will tell you, making sushi is a serious art that requires years of training to master. That’s the idea behind Asami’s Sushi Shop, a match-3 restaurant game that has you learning the ropes and filling customer orders with frantic tile matching.
Asami’s grandfather is ready to pass on the family’s sushi business, and he believes Asami has what it takes to become a sushi master. Before he can give her the business, she needs to prove herself and learn the sushi-making skills of an expert chef.
When you first begin, you get to choose between timed and untimed mode. In untimed mode, there is no time clock, so you simply play until you’ve made the basic income goal. You can’t lose. Timed mode pits you against the clock, trying to make matches and gather your gold before the day is over.
Much like Burger Rush, customers enter your sushi shop with food orders, which are shown in thought bubbles. Your goal is to serve them before they run out of patience, demonstrated by hearts over their heads. How do you serve these customers? By playing match-3 with their food! Swap adjacent tiles to make matches. Everytime you make matches of three or more of a kind, those sushi pieces are delivered to customers.
Once an order is complete, the customer will take a few seconds to eat, and then leave a bag of cash on the table. You have to pick up this cash in order to allow the next customer to be seated in that spot. The more complex the order, the more money they will leave behind. You also earn extra cash for additional matches you’ve made, beyond those that fill the sushi orders. The round is over when the time has run out, and you get to proceed if you’ve met the daily income goal.
If you can match four or more tiles in one move, you’ll earn a "dragon bonus" token, which look like a gold i-Ching coin. You can swap the gold coin out with any adjacent tile, regardless of whether they make a match or not. Once swapped, a dragon will come and clear out any tiles in that row or column (the direction depends on the direction of the center marking on the coin). Present tiles and bags of gold will sometimes appear, and you can click these for a bonus.
Once you’ve won a round, you can move on, or else "restart from top" which means replay the round again (and forfeit any cash you’ve earned). If you choose to proceed, be warned that you won’t be allowed to replay the round again in the map screen. You have ten lives to start. Whenever you lose a round in timed mode, you are given the option of replaying it, or spending a life to bypass it.
In between levels, you can visit the shop to buy decorative items that increase the customers’ patience, and give you bigger tips. Every few levels, you are taken to a special island to make sushi. At the bottom of the screen is a conveyor. Actions must be done at specific times, as the commands appear under the green hour on the conveyor belt (sort of like the cooking tasks in Cooking Mama and Hot Dish). Sometimes you must add ingredients, or other times you must hold the mouse over the path of different arrows to roll or cut the sushi. It’s cute, and fun if you like cooking games. Succeeding earns you a new food item, like wasabi, which can earn you more tips.
In addition to the main game mode, you can also play in relax mode. In relax mode, you first select the village you want to play, and then complete an endless round of sushi making. It doesn’t get more difficult over time, and there’s no clock, so the only real draw is trying to earn a higher score. You cannot save the game when you quit, or store this score anywhere when you are tired of playing. Because of this, it’s not entertaining for long.
The length is typical, taking several hours to beat. As for production values, they’re about average. The Asian arcade music sets the up the atmosphere, and the graphics are cute and cartoonish, with chopstick wielding animations. Some characters are drawn better than others. It’s not the sort of game that comes with special effects. Forming a strategy is definitely possible, but on the whole, the game play is very straightforward and the strategy is transparent.
Asami’s Sushi Shop has a fun theme which hasn’t been overdone, and the sushi-making mini-games are particularly interesting. However, the game play itself is very simple, and it doesn’t offer anything new or particularly exciting to the genre.