"But why don't my cherries touch?" If you hear that cry of frustration at the other end of the hall, don't panic: your neighbor is just having a bad time in his game of Suika Game, which can be translated as "watermelon game". Like 2048 or Candy Crush before it, this little game, playable for free on a browser, is experiencing exponential popularity in this gloomy autumn.

But what is this "watermelon game"? What's the secret behind its success? And why does it work now, when it's been available for almost two years? 20 Minutes went out to pick digital fruits, with the analysis of Guillaume Grandjean, a researcher in video game studies.

What exactly is Suika Game?

Available since December 2021 on the Japanese Nintendo eShop, the game developed by Aladdin X consists of stacking fruits that must be fused in pairs, until you get a watermelon. Thus, two cherries make a strawberry, two strawberries make a grape, and so on. Each fruit is getting bigger and bigger, and you should not go beyond the edge of the jar where you stack the fruit.

In total, there are eleven fruits in the game. In the words of the American streamer Ludwig, Guillaume Grandjean, a researcher in video game studies, sums up: "it looks like 2048, the difference is that there are more RNGs", meaning by chance.

What is the basis for the success of such a game?

Beyond the very cute design of the fruit and the simplicity of the rules, Suika Game is above all "a very good game in terms of game design", praises Guillaume Grandjean. The game combines two mechanics, with a "puzzle-thinking aspect à la Tetris or 2048" and a dimension of skill that the specialist compares to "a game of pétanque, with a double objective of arrangement and interaction between the balls".

Because what makes Suika Game strong is also "sliding physics". The fruits collide, slide on top of each other or at the bottom of the box, roll, are sometimes thrown by the fusion of two other fruits. Not to mention that having to arrange "round pieces in a square container is a driver of chaos" that creates "poorly filled gaps".

Why is the game exploding now, two years after its release?

Available for almost two years in Japan, the game was leading a low-key existence until the end of the summer. "What propelled the game were the Japanese streamers, especially the Vtubers," represented by a digital avatar rather than directly filmed, says Guillaume Grandjean. During the month of September, the title was downloaded a million times on Nintendo eShop, Aladdin X announced, and had accumulated 2 million sales in Japan as of October 16. On October 20th, Suika Game becomes globally available, before offering an English interface on October 24th and adopting a special visual for Halloween.

Here too, North American and European streamers will seize on the phenomenon. "There is an adequacy of this game with the spectacularization of video games," explains Guillaume Grandjean, for whom Suika Game "adapts particularly well to streaming". On the one hand, because sliding physics "creates randomness, chaos, therefore frustration, excitement, therefore entertaining content". But also because "there is no timer, there is no urgency, the streamer can take his time to think, it leaves a space for discussion with his community", adds the specialist in video game studies. He also notes that where this kind of game is "often oriented towards the mobile market, Suika Game is released on Switch and browser, which is in perfect collusion with streaming". A well-thought-out strategy from which Aladdin X reaps the rewards.

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