Review: Sushi Go Party!
Gamewright, publishers of familiar co-ops like Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert, reimplement the card drafting game, Sushi Go!. Sushi Go Party! takes the original formula of cheeky sushis, and adds 15 new cards to the menu, including the soy sauce promo from its predecessor.
Sushi Go Party! also provides room at the table for eight players, and with all the new cards, allows for a variety of different combinations of appetizers, entree rolls, specials, and end-game points through desserts.
Sushi Go Party! Is just a bunch of animated sushi on cards. Nothing questionable about this game.
The original Sushi Go! has been one of my favorite games to bust out for family game nights, or with people who don’t care much for gaming. The cheeky sushi artwork is just too adorable to resist.
Sushi Go Party! plays like any other card drafting game, where you receive a hand of cards and select one to add to your collection. Each sushi has a different mechanic in place to provide its owner with points at the end of the round. Some sushi beckon you to hold the most of its kind, while others pay out if you only end the round with two instead of more.
You might begin by collecting chopsticks, which will allow you to play two cards from a future hand you receive. So, you might not have a shot at collecting three sashimi at first (10 points for collecting 3), but if you pick up a hand full of sashimi, your chopsticks bring you that much closer to finishing out your set. However, maybe another player sees you collecting the sashimi, and decides he can block you by playing the sashimi in his hand. He won’t get any points for it, but he stopped you from collecting 10 points, and now you have wasted two turns.
This is the melodrama of Sushi Go Party! Most I play with don’t think too much about blocking, or that other players are collecting dumplings, so maybe they should try to pick a different appetizer to play. The beauty of this game is in the simplicity of mechanics, coupled with the various decisions you have to make with each hand you receive.
Of course, if you play horribly in the first round, you have two more rounds to catch up. More than that, at the end of the game, all players have been collecting a special end-game bonus, called dessert. These are either fruit, green tea ice cream, or the classic pudding. Each is set aside at the end of each round, and tallied up at the end, with each having a different point value, based on how many you chose. Side note: I love the theme of dessert being at the end of a meal, and also being an end-game bonus. So fun, I quip.
So far, this is mostly a review of the original game of Sushi Go!, but if you are a long-time player of the former, this new edition brings so much more in terms of presentation, decisions, and re-playability.
To begin each game, you select from the plethora of options to put together a menu for the entire game. These are in the form of tiles that fit nicely into a point tracker/menu that sits in the middle of the table. Each player also receives a petite soy sauce miniature that plops down onto the board, and gone are the days of pen and paper score calculations. Praise.
In addition, different food choices are split up into desserts, typical nigiri, specials, rolls, and appetizers. The game manual recommends specific combinations of foods for the game you select, varying from big points to two-player platters. Coming from a fat deck of cards that plays the same every game, this is an enormous step up in quality and re-playability. There are truly so many ways you can play Sushi Go Party!
In fact, a disclaimer in the manual states this game was designed specifically because fans of the original cried out for more Sushi Go! I never knew I wanted it, but after putting ten or so plays in of this sequel, I’m certain the disclaimer rings true. I’m usually bored out of my mind with quick party games after a couple plays, but there is so much packed in the tin box for excitement and gameplay. Who doesn’t love these adorable sushi with faces you are about to devour?
Furthermore, this is the sort of game that scales incredibly well with more players. Up to eight can sit around a table. Even though each game is balanced differently, pending the player count, the only length added per player is maybe some extra time moving soy sauce point counters around the board. In addition, I see so much joy and laughs at the bizarre cuteness of these delicate food friends printed on cards from new players.
Another point of interest is in the many special cards included in the game. There are so many strange things that happen—from drawing four from the deck and choosing one, to stealing someone else’s sushi with your spoon. I love the variety these cards lend to the game. One note is these specials have a printed number on them that will dictate their order played if another player drops a special on the same turn. For a game with such simplicity, it seems so strange to me to have a need to include order of player activation.
Albeit, this makes sense to include because I care deeply about obscure rule situations and the correct order to play out a turn, but surely a simple card drafting game is the strangest place to find it.
Despite my lovely addiction to sushi with personality, Gamewright trips into a few pitfalls that seem so senseless, I’m left befuddled as I pound my fist into the air, screaming, “Why!? Why!? Why!!!”.
They are loud. They don’t close right. They open up whenever they feel like it and they spill their contents all over unexpectedly. This is, of course, the infamous Gamewright tin. I don’t understand the appeal. I own four other Gamewright games, three being mass market (Sushi Go!, Forbidden Island, and Forbidden Desert), and still I’m plagued by tins. They don’t fit on my shelf with other games, so I have to banish them to my micro-games shelf. Sure, I’m insane for letting this get to me, but I’m not alone.
Another thing I’m not ecstatic about is the card quality. As mentioned before, I’ve gotten ten or so plays out of this game, and already my cards are kind of sooty and visibly stained. I don’t usually dump my hand in car grease before I play a game, so I’m a little confused as to how they got dirty so quickly. Furthermore, you will do a lot of shuffling, so while I can’t expect a card to last a lifetime, I would not be surprised if I end up buying another copy based on how much play this gets.
All of these things said, I truly adore this game. It scales incredibly well with more players, it’s extremely accessible and easy to teach, and it’s just so cute. There is no reason to not buy Sushi Go Party! even if you already own the original, or you are just a little curious about the game at all.
Finally, I did want to end on one thought. I mentioned I don’t like the tin, and to be honest, I feel the same about the insert. I’m fine with the Dominion-style card slots for each group of cards, including the extra space for tiles in between card stacks. I did have to look online to find an optimal setup for the cards to be held in the insert because at first, it made no sense where the tiles were supposed to go.
However, the worst part about the insert is indubitably the slot to hold the soy sauce miniatures. Seriously. I have a hard enough time slapping my fat fingers around on little digital touch-screen buttons on my iPhone, so how in the world am I supposed to precisely pluck each adorable, tiny, soy sauce from this slot? In my frustration, I’ve included a gif below to show you an example of why I think it’s an insane insert design.
Makes no sense, right?
Well, I thought about it more. At first, I was ticked. Am I supposed to flip the entire tin over to let the soy sauce minis fall onto the table? Do I have to play with someone who has toothpicks for fingers? The more I thought, the more it dawned on me.
Gamewright is a company with some stellar, well known titles, but they also boast a large selection of teaching games for children. I thought about the theme of Sushi Go Party! and then I realized it. Gamewright is concerned with making a very fun game, but they are also concerned with teaching people how to use one of the oldest utensils known to mankind: chopsticks.
Gamewright, thank you for an amazing game my friends and family love. And thank you for teaching us about the value of chopsticks.
A review copy was provided by Gamewright Games for a fair and unbiased review.
The Bottom Line
Sushi Go Party! has an annoying storage solution, which is quickly overshadowed by the addition of so many new cards, which add hours and hours of replayability in a quick, fun package. From the cutest little sushi friends in the world, to smart mechanic design, this game does most everything right.