Review – Suika Game

I have no idea how people decide what makes something amazingly popular or not. I’ve lived through the rise and fall of Beanie Babies, Pogs, yo-yos inexplicably coming back in the early 2000s and whatever the hell is/was happening with BTS. I watched my children lose their minds over getting Fidget Spinners a little while ago, and now their presence is conspicuously absent from the world at large. The streaming community has helped turn the tide of gaming appeal, and it becomes apparent particularly in little games that happen to land in the spotlight at the right time. There is a collective unconsciousness that attaches to certain ideas, and, in this case, the global spotlight is not on Spider-Man 2 or Super Mario Bros. Wonder, but an innocuous puzzle game called Suika Game.

Look upon my jar of fruit, and despair!

This puzzle game could not be simpler. Capturing the feeling of 2048 meets Puyo-Puyo, you have a box in which you drop fruit. The fruit combines when it touches a sibling sphere: two strawberries make a grape, two grapes make a tangerine, etc. There’s no logic here other than the fruits get progressively bigger, with the largest being a watermelon (in Japanese, suika). Get points for dropping in the fruit and surviving as long as possible before your screen is completely dominated. There’s no time limit, no competitive mode (save for online leaderboards), and nothing particularly spectacular. Fruit meets fruit, fruit gets bigger, fruit overruns the landscape.

But there is a bit of secret sauce to Suika Game, and that’s the inclusion of the physics element. The fruit will interact with all other pieces on the gameboard, and different degrees of rolling silliness will unfold as they gain mass. While the initial setup of simply racing to get to, say, a pineapple is plausible with minimal collision, the game begins picking up difficulty as more and more space is occupied. There’s a delightful bit of frustration when you see the only thing keeping two peaches from combining is a lone strawberry who slipped through the crack and is just sitting there, smiling benignly as it ruins your whole day.

Having the fruits of Suika Game all be cute and have little faces is probably a big reason why the game has taken off as hard as it has. While there are plenty of inexpensive puzzle games across the eShop (and tens of thousands more on the different smartphone storefronts), this one is pleasantly charming without being too saccharine. There’s a variety of different colors, textures and just calming, bright shapes to see, and it appeals to children as well as adults. The poppy music puts you in a upbeat mood as you continue to move the fruit around, and even failure doesn’t feel that bad. After all, the fruit seems fine with it, why shouldn’t you?

Seriously, I know it’s supposed to be spooky but this is actually cuter.

This is, ultimately, just a matter of luck combined with good spatial awareness. If you can figure out where to put the orange or the bunch of grapes in the right spot for a successful combination down the line, fantastic. This isn’t something where speed and reflexes are necessary to become a great: Tetris will never have to worry about Suika Game nipping on its heels. It doesn’t make the game any less cute or approachable, and the lack of any serious challenge aspects may be why it continues to sell so well, but it also makes it hard to say whether it’s great or not. It’s not bad, which I guess is something. 

This clearly isn’t meant to be a massive RPG or all-day experience, and the lack of in app purchasing on top of a low price tag is perfect for impulse buying. Suika Game manages to combine two aspects incredibly well: planning and dumb luck. There simply isn’t a way to play in which you’re moving at a breakneck pace to drop cherries or strawberries: the game won’t allow it. Instead, there are multiple instances of just sitting and waiting as the fruit slowly pushes itself around through invisible physics rules, and then being rewarded for your patience by a chain reaction of fruit combinations. I’ve typed the word fruit so many times at this point it’s starting to lose all meaning.

As of the writing of this review, the developer has added English support, which was a kind but wholly unnecessary addition since the game is so self-explanatory. There’s also a new Halloween mode, where the cute becomes slightly spooky (but still very cute) along with a shift in background and music to match the motif of the season. Clearly there is a response to the popularity that Aladdin X, the developer, is trying to capitalize even further on it. Thanks to the VTubers at large, this unassuming game from 2021 is now the biggest title to be downloaded on the Nintendo Switch currently, and it’s not the worst thing to happen.

The scores of someone who has never and probably never will achieve a watermelon.

For a couple of bucks, Suika Game is a cute little distraction that you might get wildly addicted to or you may just run through twice and then forget about. The online high score list shows that the competition is real, so know what you’re getting into before considering streaming. There aren’t any glitches or bugs, so, honestly, the polish makes it worth the price tag, even if there’s a high chance you’ll just let this game rot in your refrigerator after the initial excitement fades away.

Graphics: 8.0

Bubbly, cute and inoffensive, this is a game for the kawaii culture and people who just like to vegetate for a few minutes on the train, sitting on the sofa during TV time or people who are determined to become the next great streamer of SOMETHING.

Gameplay: 4.0

Drop fruit. Watch fruit combine. Hope fruit touches other fruit and gets bigger. Lather, rinse, repeat. You could teach this game to almost anyone and several animals and they would get the concept. Lack of touchscreen is a little disappointing.

Sound: 6.0

Absolutely background and inoffensive, the Halloween music is a nice touch to properly evoke some Nightmare Before Christmas Elfman vibes without completely overstepping on the IP.

Fun Factor: 6.5

I sincerely didn’t hate it. It’s got a very basic concept that’s well executed, repetitive without being the same game each time, and gave me a little dopamine. It’s not in my top one hundred, but I certainly didn’t hate it.

Final Verdict: 6

Suika Game is available now on Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.