Maybe you are familiar with the Disney Tsum Tsum toy series, maybe you are not. Originally imported from Japan, these collectibles were essentially small plush toys – felty to the touch, but rectangular in shape so they could easily be stacked in pyramids and other formations. Of course, Disney’s endless catalog of cute children’s icons was perfect for beating the faces off feverish dreams in performances of the Funko Pop vinyls. These monstrosities flooded the impulse departments of JC Penney stores everywhere between 2014 and 2017. While the line of physical toys quietly stopped production, the franchise found a new life in the form of highly rated mobile games (everyone’s favorite!).
Thanks to their success in mobile space, Disney thought it would be fun to christen their toes in console games, and now we have the Disney Tsum Tsum Festival for Nintendo Switch. Nowadays, when a mobile developer rushes his game to the Switch, he laughs outside the building, but it’s already hard enough for Disney to keep the title. It was first announced at Nintendo Direct in February this year, and they even worked with Bandai Namco to release it – you know, the guys from the Smash Brothers.
At a time when games like this that are damaging to reputation are getting worse, it was actually quite extraordinary to see one of them take the lead on Nintendo Direct. I’m not saying that the listing in Direct is an indicator of quality, but the title is a statement. I was really curious if it would last and what kind of Disney-themed creature mouse game would even be worthless.
It won’t surprise anyone that the Disney Tsum Tsum Festival is a collection of mini-games – the genre that defines the Wii era and is a calling card for Shovelware games around the world. At the beginning of the game you choose the Tsum Tsum you want to play, then you go to the arcade lobby where you can choose from all the games. The original mobile game is fully available, with new multiplayer and touch controls for the portable mode. But it is an interesting addition to the title, because the new minigames easily steal the show – eleven in total, each with its own game mechanics and online ranking. Since the Tsum has little to offer in terms of mobility, much of the difficulty lies in pursuing other Tsum on foot or using Tsum to control other units. This is a good concept for an accessible game aimed at a younger audience. The restrictions imposed on the characters force them to simplify the controls, and a stronger experience is created by the fun images and sounds created during the game.
In this case it works because the images are vivid and colorful and incredibly noisy for playing on small and skinny collectible toys. The carnivalesque, non-specific aesthetics of the festival serve to put the action in context, but add little to the overall experience. The aesthetics of theme parks in video games died in 2001 with Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure, but for some reason developers can’t get rid of it. It’s technically the second largest Disney collaboration to come out after Kingdom Hearts, so you’d think the crossover potential would make for something more creative.
The minigames themselves are a lot of fun. Most of them have a local game up to four Zums and a pretty easy way to knock out a few minutes. But once you’ve gone through them all (unless you’re at the top of the rankings for a particular event), the novelty fades quickly. Younger players might want to, but for all the others it’s a pretty dry source of content. Even with all small collectibles and items that need to be unlocked, the repeat value is low.
There are a ridiculous amount of different Tsums that you can unlock and play, but they are purely cosmetic. The only advantage is the ability to represent your favorite Disney franchise while you play. You unlock these characters with gifts that can be bought with money earned in different games. If they look like safes, that’s exactly what they are. Even with the gifts offered at the beginning of the game, it is an incredibly semi-transparent progression system that greatly reduces gameplay. This is especially true in comparison with his contemporaries in the board game genre, who offer much more content that is not randomly unlocked one by one.
As far as I know, there is no way to bring real money into the ecosystem, but the fact that it still works in the game only serves to standardize the more predatory practices of publishers in all areas. It is clear that this is a game that young children will focus on. Children who do not understand how such practices can limit someone are at increased risk of gambling addiction and financial recklessness. The bad genre that only exists and flourishes in mobile space because free games are the dominant business model in this market. It is not something that ever comes out with a good taste of console gaming with a pre-release price.
Disney’s Tsum Tsum festival is certainly not the worst crime, but it justifiably ruins an otherwise nice name. The bright world of Tsum Tsum is as bright as it is charming, and the minigames support the presentation decently. A little more precision and an update of the progression system would have been incredible. The planned live events for online gaming promise additional content, but as this is also a direct result of the mobile gaming market, I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Review of the Disney Tsum Tsum Festival
- Graphs – 7/10
- Sound – 6/10
- Gameplay – 7/10
- Late complaint – 5/10
Final thoughts: WARNINGS
Your favorite Disney characters become the stars of easy-to-play festive games that are never fun, and Disney’s Tsum Tsum Festival is sure to bring you the fun when you need it. But we can do much more with this concept than with anything else. Advance payments based on batch-boxes and a general lack of content really got to the heart of this problem. If you have a young child that you want to play more Switchgames, it’s a pretty solid family title, but unfortunately its scope doesn’t extend much further.
Evan Rude is a student of journalism and an amateur gambling historian. His favorite Guitar Hero III song was Even Flow.
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