It may have been a crucial part of Sega’s marketing strategy 20 years ago, but, inspired as it may have been, Columns never really came close to replicating the ridiculous success of Tetris. Chances are Masami – Sushi Ace won’t do much better either, despite it being a lovely take on the classic formula of the falling blocks arcade puzzler.
Masami – Sushi Ace is essentially an improved and transformed Columns that substitutes coloured blocks with falling sushi ingredients to be neatly arranged in threes. Oh, and, this being a game most appropriately and obviously set in a sushi restaurant, it adds the smart little twist of clients having particular preferences you have to tend to.
Just make sure people get their prawn/crab/fish/anything sushi when they ask for it and you’ll have scored an Ace.
An Ace will grant you extra points in Masami’s high-score chasing arcade mode, whereas in the lovely story mode it will function as a more concrete goal. Said story mode is a particularly inspired addition that breaks the game into smaller segments each with a specific task you’ll have to accomplish. Tasks such as getting four aces, or scoring a certain number of points in a set amount of seconds. These help non-high-score-obsessive players get into the game and, eventually, prepare them for competitive play.
Not that I’d expect Masami to become the next hit of the tournament scene, lovely as it may be, but it’s definitely worth a (Windows only) download and small office tournament, especially if you are into classic puzzlers. Being a carefully designed refinement of the original Columns with elegant NES visuals and tons of polish does help quite a bit too.
It’s not everyday when freebies come with in-game manuals, gamepad support, all sorts of graphical options, cute chiptune soundtracks and sleek retro-esque presentation.