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Sushi-X was a popular character played by many Electronic Gaming Monthly and GameNOW editors. Making his first appearance in the eighth issue of EGM, the character went on to create a legacy based on his ninja garb, self-proclaimed love for fighting games—particularly Street Fighter II, disdain for all things Game Boy-related, and characteristically tough reviews for casual genres.
Sushi-X debuted in the eighth issue of EGM. It has been pointed out by former employees and fans alike that the Sushi-X moniker is very similar to The Weekly Famitsu's "Taco-X". David Siller, creator and original writer of the Sushi-X character, has confirmed that the name was influenced by Taco-X. Not coincidentally, EGM switched to a review system similar to the Famitsu's 4-editors-per-review at around the same time Sushi-X was created, another of Siller's suggestions.
After issue 22, Ken Williams began writing under the Sushi-X pseudonym instead of David Siller. Over the next 5 years, Ken Williams was the only Sushi-X, and according to EGM's former News Editor and longtime employee Chris Johnston, "His personality was exactly that of the Sushi-X in the magazine -- he loved fighting games and had a passionate disdain for anything Game Boy or that involved turn-based role-playing.". These character traits would define the Sushi-X character for the years to come no matter who played him.
At some point in the mid-90s, Ken Williams departed EGM to work on its online sister site, NUKE. EGM's editors, aware of the legacy Williams had created in Sushi-X, struggled to keep the persona consistent, and it showed with the character contradicting himself; instead of despising Game Boy titles, he occasionally embraced them, almost to the point of irrationality. And RPGs, once shunned, became more accepted. In fact, by the late-90s, Sushi-X's favorite genres were Fighting and RPGs. After Ken came Howard Grossman, Andy Baran was the next Sushi-X for a limited time who also ended up doing a few of his reviews during the time between Ken & Howard. Scott Parus was the next Sushi-X, but sometimes others would chime in too.
Then, in issues 89 through 104, Williams returned, both as Sushi-X and as EGM's managing editor. His stay was short lived, however, and once again other editors found themselves propping the popular character alive in 1998.
In early 1999, Sushi-X's presence in EGM began to diminish. The staff, with a new editor-in-chief and publisher, John Davison and Ziff Davis respectively, were in the process of redesigning the magazine to make it appeal to a more mature audience. Continuing to maintain the Sushi-X facade "was like beating a dead horse", and the character did not fit with the magazine's new direction, so it was decided that in the July 1999 120th issue the magazine would receive a redesign to commemorate its 10th anniversary—and loss of Sushi-X.
Since the Sushi-X character was a longtime member of EGM, who was held in very high esteem by the readers, many were perplexed by his sudden, unexplained absence and sent letters to EGM asking where Sushi-X was. The questions continued to be asked and printed in EGM's letter section over a period of several years, and the response always was a variation of "he is on vacation". Theories as to Sushi-X's whereabouts abounded, with some readers going so far as to claim that Che Chou, addition to the EGM review crew just after Sushi-X disappeared, was Sushi-X. He was brought back to answer questions in a Letters section sidebar called "Ask Sushi." But it didn't last and a few months later the character slipped into the mists of time and disappeared.
Besides the occasional mention in EGM's letter section and fans querying his disappearance on message boards and Usenet, the Sushi-X character disappeared entirely for about three years. Then, in early 2003, Sushi-X returned in GameNOW, a magazine that was Ziff Davis's attempt to profit with a magazine aimed at the younger audience GamePro dominated. During his time at GameNOW, he occasionally reviewed games for EGM but was never a permanent member of the EGM review crew. In 2004, with GameNOW's circulation at a mere 80,000 per month, the magazine and Sushi-X came to an end.
In early-2006, Chris Johnston, former News Editor for Electronic Gaming Monthly and current Newtype (magazine) editor, received an email from David Siller saying that the rights to the Sushi-X character had been "granted [to] David Siller to use . . . in an actual video game and that will come to reality in the near future.", so Sushi-X's return might not be far off.
On October 11, 2006, former EGM editor Martin Alessi released a press release titled "Sushi-X Returns to Take Over the Video Game Industry". In it, former EGM editor Martin Alessi confirmed that David Siller had indeed created Sushi-X before leaving the character to Ken Williams for 10 years when he left to develop video games. Martin also revealed plans to release a new video game magazine titled "Wii60 Player", focusing solely on Nintendo and Microsoft products. Both Terry Minnich and Ken Williams, mentioned in the controversial releases, have since left the retroplayer.tv project entirely, citing obvious creative differences as the reason for the falling out.
According to a press release from December 18, 2009, Sushi-X will return to the new EGM which relaunches in March 2010.
Sushi-X and Other Gaming Magazines
Throughout Sushi-X's tenure at EGM, other video game magazines (GamePro and GameFan in particular) did not shy away from calling Sushi-X a fake. This might've been the inspiration for GamePro to create the Slasher Quan character, who himself was famous for reviewing mainly fighting games for GamePro. In spite of this, EGM always maintained that he was a real person. For example, in one issue of GamePro, the first comment in its "Static" column was "Who's playing Sushi-X this week?". A reader, wondering what the comment meant, sent the quote into EGM's "Ask Sushi-X" section. The reader's question would be answered when the editor writing for Sushi-X replied that "Scary Larry and Air Hendrix don't think I'm a real person. Go figure."
List of Known and Suspected Editors to Have Played Sushi-X
- David Siller
- Ken Williams
- Howard Grossman
- Scott Parus
- Che Chou
- Andrew Baran
- Dan Hsu
- Shawn Smith
- Crispin Boyer
- Johnny Boyoyon
- Even after retiring the Sushi-X persona, EGM editors continue to commemorate him whenever EGM celebrates a milestone in its history. In issue 200, for example, a sizable portion of their EGM: Retro feature was dedicated to what was the "most mysterious member of our review crew". This article exposed anomalies in Sushi-X's character. For example, he's described as an "outspoken ninja [who] hated RPGs as much as he loved fighting games" 5 which was accurate if referencing Ken Williams's Sushi-X but not at all accurate if referencing the late-90s Sushi-X who listed RPGs as one of his favorite genres and routinely was the fourth reviewer for RPGs.
- The "Sushi-X Files" could be found in both EGM and GameNOW. In EGM, Sushi-X Files was a subscribers-only page that was maintained by editor Shawn Smith who filled it with inside jokes, staff profiles, a hot or not list, and "quotable quotes". In GameNOW, the Sushi-X Files was a brief column filled with gaming rumors, similar to EGM's Quartermann, another pseudonym.
- Sushi-X was also mentioned in the fighting game BloodStorm, as well as EGM itself.
- Super-Secret Gaming Ninja, Sushi-X: Former EGM news editor and review crew member, Chris Johnston, writes a blog about Sushi-X.
- EGM's Sushi-X - Unmasked At Last?: Slashdot article
- History of GameNOW: Edited by Kevin Gifford, former freelancer and editor with various Ziff Davis magazines.
- History of Electronic gaming Monthly: Edited by Kevin Gifford, former freelancer and editor with various Ziff Davis magazines.
- EGM: RETRO: 200 Issues of Us
- "Super-Secret Gaming Ninja, Sushi-X". Johnston, Chris. Restructured Chaos > EGM Chronicles. June 26, 2004. Playeronepodcast.com.
- "Sushi-X Returns to Take Over the Video Game Industry". PRLog.com
- "EGM MEDIA, LLC ENTERS INTO AGREEMENT WITH TIME/WARNER RETAIL SALES & MARKETING FOR NEWSSTAND DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY MAGAZINE". egmnow.com