Tsum Tsums: kids love ’em, parents hate ’em!
If you haven’t seen these little worm-like mascot creatures before you will at some point in your life (whether it’s due to a future kid, nephew/niece, or what have you). The gist is that they’re wildly popular toys that originated in Japan, dating back to a video game (primarily in arcades, then mobile). Since then they’ve broken out all across the world, becoming a multi-billion-dollar subfranchise.
Now, the worms are ready to hit consoles, but the red carpet isn’t fully rolled out yet.
Disney Tsum Tsum Festival (Switch)
Developer: B.B. Studio, Hyde
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Released: November 8, 2019
Confused yet? Don’t be. Disney Tsum Tsum Festival is basically just a party game not unlike Mario Party. There’s a bunch of minigames to choose from (as well as the puzzle mode match core that the series is really known for), all of which are solo or multiplayer-based (most have CPU/bot support). You can pick from a swath of aesthetic avatars from the known Disney universe (Pixar, Disney proper, even Bandai Namco’s Pac-Man). That’s it. Like the toy line, this game is mostly a family-focused affair.
The main event is the puzzle mode, which is more like a time-waster than a deep exercise. This one exclusively uses the touch screen like a mobile device in vertical mode, as you drag critters to match one another rapid-fire against a timer. You can opt to add another player or go at it solo in a time-attack fashion. And you should! This mode feels like a token inclusion and has been done before, albeit this time there’s no fear of predatory microtransactions.
Confusingly, the decision was made to disavow full portable mode play for every other mode due to the nature of how you use the Joy-Con (think Super Mario Party), so you’ll need to kickstand-up the Switch and detach the remote or play on a TV outside of that one gametype. I’m not really on board with that call, as most of the motion or Joy-Con use is menial. Tsum Rhythm has you holding the Joy-Con vertically and shaking it to the beat in a very basic fashion, which is actually a decent introduction to the genre for kids. There’s not much depth and the songs are limited, but I can see a family who isn’t familiar with rhythm games enjoying it (this is kind of a theme with Tsum Tsum Festival).
Spinner Arena Battle is kind of like that arena ball battler from Mario Party, with concessions for versus or co-op play. Bubble Hockey is very similar (basically the same thing but like air hockey), as is Tsum Curling. Round ‘n’ Round Run, the obstacle course platformer, is probably the best mode, especially with four players battling over supremacy and jumping on top of each other. Tsum Chase is a take on Pac-Man, ghosts and all (remember, Bandai Namco is publishing), which is fun enough with four players running around.
A few of the other activities feel like micro games. Ice Cream Stacker is a bite-sized balancing act, Easter Egg Battle is similar to Temple Run with its use of simple motion gestures, and you’ve seen Tsum Tsum Mania before: the old reliable IR pointer shooting gallery that’s more fun as you add more players (see a pattern?). And that’s it, game-wise! You can play them all individually or wrap it all up in a bow with a tour of three to seven games sequentially. Repeating them — or completing challenges (specific goals) — will earn you coins, which you can exchange (after a coin-pusher minigame) for rewards like more characters.
With its flashing lights, neon pulses, and rapid-fire minigames, Disney Tsum Tsum Festival is hyperactive at all times. It partially adds to the excitement of playing — but also comes with a ton of other issues. The main menu is convoluted (everything is a giant icon that takes time to scroll through, with no concern for where crucial elements like options are placed) and there’s a general sense of disarray.
Disney Tsum Tsum Festival is packed with stuff to do, but most of it should be left to full family households with everyone on deck. It needs to focus more on depth rather than quantity, but the few games that are deep are fun enough to play with a crowd.
[This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.]