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Is it possible to get better at Suika Game? Maybe not

Damn watermelons

A box full of cute fruit with faces filling in the games in Suika Game, with a honeydew melon in the center with peaches and asian pears surrounding it. Image: popIn via Polygon
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

I’ve played roughly 150 hours of Suika Game, and instead of getting better at the game, I think I’m getting worse. Like my colleague Julia Lee, Suika Game has had me in an absolute chokehold. From Japanese developer Aladdin X, Suika Game was originally available only on the Japanese eShop, but it came stateside in October. I started playing it in December, and since then, it’s basically the only game I’ve played on the Nintendo Switch.

Suika Game is one of those games that’s deceptively simple-looking: You just drop varying sizes of fruits into a box, with fruits combining when two of the same kind touch. The goal is to combine fruits while organizing them in such a way (Tetris-style, almost) that you don’t overflow the box they’re in. Cherries combine to form strawberries, strawberries into grapes, grapes into oranges, oranges into persimmons, persimmons into apples, and so on, up until you reach the titular “suika” (Japanese for watermelon). When two watermelons combine, they disappear, meaning the game can theoretically go on forever as the box gets clear. The only problem is that Suika Game is ridiculously hard, thanks to its physics system that makes fruit bounce all over the place. (Plus, it’s just hard to organize the fruit correctly!)

Once I realized how hard Suika Game was, I set two goals for myself — to reach a score of 3,000, and to get a watermelon touch. I’ve been slowly descending into madness as I look to meet that achievement. When you load up Suika Game and look at the global leaderboards, you’ll see there are people who’ve scored up past 14,000 — an absolutely impossible score for the average player. My journey to reaching 3,000 points has been a huge feat for me, let alone having two watermelons touch.

My current theory is that there’s a skill plateau for Suika Game. The location of that plateau is different for every player, but wherever it is, it’s impossible to go beyond that. I’ve met my skill plateau, and no training has helped me overcome it since.

That said, I’ve also found it hard to get tips on how to get better at Suika Game, other than just “get good.” The majority of the top hits for tips are things I’ve already been doing since the beginning — take it slow; let things bounce and settle; don’t put big fruits over small fruits; plan ahead; line fruits up by size. After exhausting all the tips I found on various websites, I started watching Suika Game livestreams on Twitch, trying to understand the thought process behind top players’ moves. Not only did this lodge the Suika Game music permanently into my brain, it was also demoralizing. I could never measure up!

Jokes aside, I do think watching other people play has helped a little bit to see how others organize their fruits, because at around the 110 hour mark, I did hit 3,000 points. And at 150, I finally broke 3,000 — a couple hundred points over 3,000, too! Unfortunately, I still haven’t had two watermelons touch, and I’m not sure I ever will. Back to my skill plateau theory — it may no longer be possible for me to improve further.

I just may have to quit Suika Game without experiencing the relief of two watermelons touching. But I also can’t bring myself to quit yet. (There’s a rumor Suika Game may come to mobile, and if that happens, it’s over for me; it’s already out for players in Japan.)

The next level of puzzles.

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