App of the Day: Sushi Go Round
I love time management sims, but I'm not sure that's the best name for them. It sounds businessy and important, the kind of phrase you'd hear in an office where everyone's watched too much Apprentice and keeps banging on about driving the pivotal endpoint forwards. It's not suited to video games about dashing round diners and running beauty spas where all the customers are cats.
A more appropriate term, I think, might be plate spinners. That's because these games are all about maintaining momentum while multi-tasking. (This is the moment to insert a searing feminist diatribe about the reasons women are so excellent at playing them, but I've got to finish this article and hang the washing out before my husband's Super Noodles boil over.)
Sushi Go Round is one of the finest plate spinners I've played. Actually it's more of a plate pusher if you want to get literal, but that's probably taking things too far. You play as a chef in a sushi restaurant, doling out menus, rolling up raw fish and bunging the finished dishes onto a moving conveyor belt.
There are three tasks to manage. You have to bang out the food quickly enough that your customers don't get tired of waiting and nip off down the road to Strada. You have to combine the right ingredients in the right quantities to ensure people get what they order. And you have to keep your stash of ingredients topped up, without over-ordering and thereby eating into your profits. (Pro Tip: Don't worry about over-ordering rice. You will always need more rice.)
There's a minimum revenue target to hit each day and some silly business with food critics and hungry police officers and so on. But at its core, Sushi Go Round works just like every other plate spinner.
So what makes it a great one? The perfect incline of the game's learning curve, for one thing. Sushi Go Round lures you in by introducing the different sushi recipes gradually, giving you a pleasant sense of accomplishment as you progress through each stage.
Then, just as you've gotten to know your gunkan maki from your unagi roll, the pace ramps right up. Every yen starts to count and you have to decide whether you can really afford express delivery for that next batch of fish eggs, looking out for new orders and dirty plates all the while.
The final levels descend into the kind of frenetic carnage you can only conquer with intense, flawless focus. Which is what any fan of these games is after, of course - the feeling that, although you've done nothing more than hit an arbitrary target in a game about raw fish / waitressing / cats who wear lipstick, you're some kind of Jedi.
Sushi Go Round also benefits from smart presentation, cute animations and a jolly soundtrack that doesn't completely make you want to kill yourself. It's addictive, satisfying and well worth 69 pence, whatever you want to call the genre it belongs to.
App of the Day highlights interesting games we're playing on the Android, iPad, iPhone and Windows Phone 7 mobile platforms, including post-release updates. If you want to see a particular app featured, drop us a line or suggest it in the comments.