Theme is important in a game. Without theme, you’re just executing a series of abstract rules. Even games given the label of “Abstract” often have some attempt at theme. Some Abstract games are even about an Abstract theme, such as hacking in the excellent Android: Mainframe. It’s often interesting to take a game, strip it of all theme and wonder how fun it would still be. Sushi go is one of those games that takes an average concept and succeeds solely on the charm of its theme.
At it’s core Sushi go is a drafting game where you play a card every turn that gets you points. You pass your cards to your left and repeat. Imagine the core concepts on their own. Play card A and get a point. Card B gets two points. Now if you have two of card C, that’s five points. Simple in its own vanilla kind of fun, but uninspiring as far as mechanics go. Adding the universal theme of food and a solid bright aesthetic makes the game come alive.
It’s much more meaningful to play a piece of sushi for points than it is to execute the action devoid of theme. It draws you in and makes you feel like you’re doing something that has meaning. Sushi go was a great game. It was quick, cheap and charming with a highly portable form factor. The longevity of the game was a bit limited though.
Sushi go party sacrifices portability for a massive increase to it’s replayabilitiy. By alternating various cards through randomized menus, the game creates an experience that feels unique every playthrough. Everyone will have their favorite items along with some disliked ones. It’s that variation that creates a sense of excitement when each item is revealed and it gives players the desire to immediately play again to see what other options exist.
At its core Sushi Go Party is a game that relies on the fundamental aspects of board gaming. It has simple rules that can bring together eight players of any skill level. It relates to its players with a charming theme and beautiful aesthetics. It offers a sense of excitement and wonder that will take a while to be exhausted. Eventually though, the moves will become instinctual, the combinations with have been played out. But we all need games like this in our collection.
The types to break out as ice breakers, to bring to the pub when there are only a few minutes to spare, and to unwind after an exhausting play session. Few games fit that need better than the contents of this happy little tin.