E3 2019: Disney Tsum Tsum Festival

E3 2019: Disney Tsum Tsum Festival

From Star Trek and Star Wars to Marvel and anime-style gacha games, there are a lot of mobile games on the market competing for your attention. One of the more less offensive games I’ve come across in my travels is Disney Tsum Tsum, a colorful, Walt Disney themed match-three puzzle game based off a line of cute, stackable Japanese plush toys. Disney Tsum Tsum is different from most Bejeweled clones because a physics engine lets you flip and toss the tsum tsums on the board to make more matches. Repeated matching triggers bonus modes and activates character-specific abilities, all of which add a nice bit of unpredictability. With tons of Disney character to unlock and special events to participate in, there’s plenty you can do with the game as you wait through a smoke break or enjoy a bus ride home.

Why am I talking about a game that came out in 2017? Because it’s headed to the Nintendo Switch as Disney Tsum Tsum Festival! I got to try out the game at Namco Bandai’s E3 booth and based what I saw and played, Disney Tsum Tsum has been faithfully ported to the Switch console. I played a competitive version of the game with one of the Namco Bandai reps and was pleased to see that the game adapts well to the Switch, as you can use the touch screen for the match-three portion of the game. One thought that came to me after the demo was whether or not the Switch will feature the limited theme events commonplace on the mobile app. When the Marvel Cinematic Universe got really hot, you could play with and collect Avengers-themed tsums tsums. And of course, there was a Star Wars tsum tsums event to celebrate the new trilogy. I certainly hope they appear on the Switch because such events were a great way to earn new characters and incentivize return play.

On top of the base game, Disney Tsum Tsum Festival also provides a collection of party games to be enjoyed with up to three additional players, either online or couch co-op. I only got to try three of these games and while they were fun, they feel like something you’d see in a Mario Party. One of them, in particular, involves trying to knock other players off a tilting platform as they roll around on large bouncy balls. A little on the nose but why fix something if it isn’t broken? The second party game was a multiplayer variant of Pac-Man, where your tsum tsums move along a maze gobbling up pellets and avoiding Disney villains. My favorite of the three games was air hockey. Each player controls a paddle they can use to knock the puck into their opponent's goal while also using it to strike power-ups that can double the size of your in-game paddle or shrink it down, making it harder to block incoming pucks, especially when multiple discs appear on the board.

Disney Tsum Tsum may not have mass appeal as, say, Fortnite or the like. However, it’s a fun enough puzzle game that younger audiences and Disney fans are sure to enjoy. And because the Switch doubles as a great handheld platform, you can take your tsum tsums where ever you go.

Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.