Creative Director Bill Rosemann gets you caught up on all the updates about Marvel Tsum Tsum!
Marvel.com’s got a man inside Marvel Games.
For over two decades Bill Rosemann has a part of the Marvel family, from his time as a freelance writer for Marvel Age magazine, to marketing copywriter, to “Your Man @ Marvel” blogger, to writer of the Deadline limited series, to editor of dozens of comic series including Nova, Black Panther, Thunderbolts and Avengers Academy. Bill also helped launch the Disney Kingdom imprint and was part of the team that co-created the modern day Guardians of the Galaxy. Bill is now Creative Director for Marvel Games, where he uses his knowledge and passion for the House of Ideas to collaborate with partners around the world on hit titles for console, PC and mobile devices.
Every few weeks, Bill and talented members of the Marvel Games team join us to share their stories as well as exclusive news and scoops on what’s happening in the world of gaming!
Marvel.com: So for those living in a dank, dark cave, can you give us the lowdown on the Marvel Tsum Tsum craze?
Bill Rosemann: It all started when the consumer product line of Disney Tsum Tsum plushies became a “connect-and-erase” mobile game. Spreading the Tsum Tsum love, about a year and a half ago, we partnered with Disney Japan, Mixi and NHN to put our own spin on it and create a Marvel Tsum Tsum mobile game. It launched in Japan in April and immediately jumped to the top of the charts, getting downloaded over four million times. You can’t contain those crazy Marvel Tsum Tsum, as we saw this week as the game leapt across the globe and launched in America and Canada.
Marvel.com: That’s awesome. So what has been the immediate reaction?
Bill Rosemann: You mean after everyone said, “Oh my gosh, they’re so cute?” Once people starting playing the game, they saw how unique, fast-paced and 100% Marvel it is, so they started asking us “How did you turn plushies into a game?” and “How did you translate human characters into Tsum Tsum?” and “I love my Disney Tsum Tsum game…how different is this?”
Marvel.com: I think that’s a good place to start, you know, just the fact that this isn’t just a re-skin of Disney Tsum Tsum it’s a brand-new game.
Bill Rosemann: Exactly! The Marvel Games team is allergic to “brand slaps” and “re-skins”…that is 100% against our belief system. With that as our guide, the Marvel Games team – led by Sr. Producers Tim Hernandez and Danny Koo — worked with our partners to start from the basic “connect-and-erase” game system and rebuilt it from the ground up.
Marvel.com: So what were some of the design details that you brought to the game to define it as Marvel Tsum Tsum?
Bill Rosemann: It may sound silly, but the first thing we looked at was the logo. We started with the rainbow colored Disney Tsum Tsum logo and asked if we could recolor it to synch with our red-and-white Marvel logo…and everyone agreed that the change would help send the message that this was its own, distinct game. Then we applied that modern Marvel look and vibe to the entire game, from the UI to the music.
Marvel.com: And what are some of the gameplay elements that distinguish it from its predecessor?
Bill Rosemann: Whenever we create anything Marvel — and this goes across the board, whether it’s studios, publishing, TV, consumer products, or games — we always want to capture that authentic Marvel spirit. When you experience anything from Marvel, it has to have an exciting and compelling story; we’re the world’s best storytellers. So for Marvel Tsum Tsum, we did the same thing: We started from story. In this case, the Marvel Tsum Tsum think they’re the real heroes and the villains, battling for the fate of the world, which just so happens to be in a toy store. So even though the game is totally fun and packed with humor, there are always stakes, there’s always a threat and there’s always drama.
Once we defined the story and stakes, the next question was, well, what do our heroes and villains do? Our characters go on missions, which is a key gameplay feature that separated Marvel Tsum Tsum from Disney Tsum Tsum: your heroes go on missions and explore different locations that you’ll recognize from other Marvel stories. You’ll travel to toystore versions of New York City, Wakanda, Asgard, Knowhere and all the places that make Marvel so awesome.
Next we asked, “What do our character do on missions?” They come into conflict! They fight, and we always want our characters to have a motivation, a compelling reason why they’re battling. So in the game you’ll encounter boss battles with villains such as Loki, Ultron, Ronan and Venom. And what else? Oh! The Tsums not only believe they are the real heroes, they also have their powers! Iron Man fires his repulsor beams, Spider-Man shoots his webs, the Hulk smashes with his big fists, Black Widow blasts with her wrist gauntlets…they kick butt!
Oh, aaaand there’s co-op play ! You can invite friends to join you and together, you can go on missions and you can toss items back and forth to help each other, you can toss bombs back and forth to erase Tsums and the goal of all this is you want to level up all of your characters and the more you level up, the stronger you get, there’s different abilities, you can then go on different missions, you can then fight different villains and then eventually, you can unlock all the different characters.
Marvel.com: Speaking of characters, who do we have in there and who are you most excited about and is there anything you can tease of some people we may see soon?
Bill Rosemann: Sure! To start with, we wanted to deliver all the most popular characters that people know and love, like the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and Spider-Man. From there we’ll expand to the Inhumans, like Black Bolt and Medusa and Ms. Marvel, and also characters from the Defenders group, like Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Daredevil. We’re starting with the most popular characters and then we’ll go deep into each group and intro the up-and-coming stars like Spider-Gwen, Devil Dinosaur and Squirrel Girl!
Marvel.com: When it comes to the designs, because some of them come from the consumer product side, were you involved with those or did you sort of take them and then how do you go about creating ones that aren’t plushies yet?
Bill Rosemann: Good question. It was a mix. That was also part of selecting which characters were in the game. We wanted to make sure we had a very healthy amount of characters in the game that exist as the plushies or the hard vinyl versions, so that you could buy them in real life and then play them in the game. But what we found out is that the hunger for characters by the Japanese players was so ferocious, we had to deliver many more characters than they first planned, and realized how challenging it is to translate a human character into the Tsum form. You really have to boil each character down and communicate who they are by their iconic shapes and colors.
Marvel.com: Have there been any surprising challenges when it comes to distilling a character down like a character that, at first you thought, ‘Oh that will be easy’ and then you get into it and you’re like, ‘Nope, this isn’t easy at all’ or have there been characters that have been straight up challenging and you knew they would be?
Bill Rosemann: The most challenging ones are the characters who don’t have masks, like Punisher.
Marvel.com: Yeah, that’s hard to do without the skull on his chest.
Bill Rosemann: Exactly, first we we had the face and it looked just like a white guy with dark hair, and we asked ourselves, “How do we communicate that it’s Punisher, not just a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent?” So we gave him the lines of his face, his stubble…we even tried to add a black bandana with a white skull, but it wasn’t working because it was too small. Eventually it came down to showing the intensity of his eyes and the anger in his face.
Marvel.com: In terms of different characters and events, is that something that you’ll be adding to as we go?
Bill Rosemann: Definitely. Hmmm…what can I reveal now? Well, with Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War arriving on DVD, we’re introducing characters that appear in the film, like Agent 13 and Black Panther. And looking ahead, you could imagine if there is an upcoming film like, say Doctor Strange, I could theorize that Marvel Tsum Tsum, like our other mobile games, might want to introduce content featuring Doctor Strange. So anytime there’s a giant event, whether it’s a new film, a TV show or a big event in publishing, that we will most likely have an event in Marvel Tsum Tsum celebrating that event as well.
Marvel.com: That’s awesome.
Bill Rosemann: It’s Marvel Tsum Tsum! And you can experience it all by downloading it for free on you iOS and Android device, and then follow them on Twitter at @MarvelTsumGame. And please follow Your Man @ Marvel Games at @BillRosemann and, of course, follow @MarvelGames, and we’ll deliver information, updates, and behind-the-scenes looks at all things Marvel Tsum Tsum!