Disney Emoji Blitz
If you see me hunched over my phone frantically swiping my finger every which way, odds are good I am playing Disney Emoji Blitz. The free-to-play game was released last summer on both Android and Apple phones. Emoji Blitz is a lot like the other puzzle-based games with the additional selling point of unlocking cute Disney-themed emojis you can text to friends and family. But even if you have never wanted to express yourself via Disney characters, Emoji Blitz is a lot of fun for casual gamers.
Before I get to the game play, let me explain how I took up Disney Emoji Blitz. Last year, we got Josie her first phone. She immediately began texting everyone she knew (mostly her mom and me) strings of emojis. I was scolded for replying with actual words instead of pictures. Personally, I was a late adapter to texting. I still haven’t embraced emoji culture, but I started using them occasionally because it made my daughter happy.
I thought that there must be some Disney emojis out there available to download. It turns out, there weren’t. At least nothing official. But I did find an announcement for an upcoming game that would allow players to unlock Disney emojis they could use on their phones. I really wasn’t looking for another game, but I figured even with my limited hand-eye coordination I could get access to a couple of fun emojis.
If you have ever played Candy Crush (or in my case, watched your wife play it), you will be familiar with the basic premise. Your screen is filled with emojis which you have to match up. The more you match at once, the more points you score. Certain combinations will result in useful power-ups which you can use to clear more of your screen. Match four emojis in a row and you will create a storm cloud which will clear a straight line horizontally or vertically. Match five and you get a rainbow-colored star which can either be combined with other power-ups or used to clear all emojis of a certain type.
There are a few different categories of emojis. The most common types are Silver and Gold. Silver emojis are less expensive and therefore less powerful, but you will need them to complete certain tasks. Starting off, you get to pick one of three Silver emojis; Ariel, Sulley or Simba. It doesn’t really matter who you pick, so choose whichever character appeals to you the most. Other Silver characters include Mickey and his friends and Winnie the Pooh characters.
When the game started last summer, there were only 26 emojis to unlock. Over the last year, the game has added dozens more. New additions are often tied into whatever Disney is trying to promote at the time. So the releases of Moana, Beauty and the Beast, Pirates 5 and Cars 3 were accompanied by appropriately-themed emojis. When there is nothing to promote, the game designers have been adding characters from Disney properties like Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty and Mulan. There have even been a couple of characters from the Disney theme parks; the Abominable Snowman and the Hatbox Ghost.
Each character has a different power. Most of them clear emojis in some way, shape or form. With some emojis, you can direct what part of the screen to clear. Others clear specified areas. Then there are less common powers. For example, the White Rabbit can add time to your clock. The Genie turns other emojis into Genies which makes for easier matching. Nick Wilde will take control long enough to make a few matches for you. Olaf adds powerful sun power-ups and Jiminy Cricket gives you a rainbow star to wish upon.
In addition to the Silver and Gold emojis which can be purchased at any time, there are two other categories of characters. Villain emojis can only be unlocked by completing limited-time events. So far, the game has offered events based on Ursula, Jafar, Maleficent and Captain Hook. If you use certain characters against the villains (say, Peter Pan against Captain Hook), you will complete tasks more quickly. Once the event is over, these characters are unavailable until the event returns. So far, the Ursula and Maleficent events have been repeated.
Then there are “Special” emojis. These are unique characters that can only be unlocked in specific ways. Sorcerer Mickey and King Triton were available for a limited time in expensive Diamond Boxes. Sorcerer Mickey was offered during both Maleficent events and King Triton was available during the second Ursula challenge, so they will likely return any time those Villain events are replayed (roughly annually). Holiday Mickey was a reward for a Christmas-themed event last year. Yen Sid, the sorcerer for whom Mickey was an apprentice, is unlocked after you reach level 100 in the game. In order to unlock Dug from Up, you need to have 10 Facebook friends playing the game. So recruit your friends (or befriend strangers) if you want him.
In order to unlock Silver and Gold emjois, players spend coins to purchase boxes. Silver boxes cost 15K coins and Gold boxes cost twice that amount. If your box contains a character you already have, then that emjoi levels up (or progresses to the next level). Leveling up an emjoi increases the effectiveness of their special power and also raises their point value. The emoji’s point value determines how many points a player earns when they clear a specific emoji.
The game grid is made up of five different emjois. The character you are playing will always be included. The rest of the characters will consist of any Silver emojis (whether you have unlocked them or not) and any other characters you own. When you clear an emoji you own, the point value increases. So the more often you play (and clear) an emoji, the more points they will be worth in the future.
When you clear enough emojis, you can trigger Blitz mode (thus the “Blitz” part of the title). Blitz mode accomplishes a few different things. First, it adds five seconds to your timer. During Blitz mode, one of the five emojis on your game grid will be automatically cleared and won’t return until after Blitz mode is over. That makes matches easier during the bonus round. Finally, there is a Blitz mode multiplier so players score more points per match.
Players can increase their Blitz mode multiplier by completing missions. Some of these missions are relatively easy. You might be asked to use 100 storm clouds which will happen on its own if you play enough games. A character like Mickey Mouse creates storm clouds, so he would be useful in completing this mission. As you level up, the missions get harder. For example, you might be asked to use 100 storm clouds during Blitz mode or to use 30 storm clouds in a single game.
Every now and then, you will get a mission that is too hard (or even impossible) to complete. For example, combining two rainbow stars is difficult. Being asked to do it twice in one game will require a lot of luck. Or worse still, you may be asked to use a character’s power that you don’t own. Unless you get lucky and unlock that character, you’re not going to complete that mission any time soon. When that happens, you have the option to spend gems (the games rarest currency) to swap out for an easier mission.
If you get close to completing a mission, the game will tempt you with an opportunity to play just a little bit longer in exchange for 20 gems. To sweeten the deal, the extra time will be a Blitz mode. But since gems are hard to come by (unless you open up your wallet), you will want to be selective about when you accept this deal. Nothing in the game is as frustrating as spending 20 gems to complete a mission and then not finishing it.
In addition to characters, the game includes Disney-themed “stickers” which can be collected. These include princess dresses, theme park rides, and other objects which may or may not be specific to Disney. I am currently working on a picnic collection which includes food items and representations of nature. When you complete a collection, you will receive some kind of prize. It may be coins or gems or a boost which can be useful in completing your missions.
There are other ways to score some extra loot. Every eight hours, players can spin a wheel with prizes that include coins, gems, boosts and extra lives. If you’re willing to watch a commercial (usually for another mobile phone game), you can spin the wheel again every hour. There is also a series of daily challenges ranging from easy to hard that will payout in extra coins or gems. These challenges require specific characters, so the more emojis you have unlocked the easier they will be to complete.
As I mentioned previously, the gameplay is occasionally spiced up with limited time events. During these events, players can complete challenges to win a specific prize. They can include special characters like the Villains or a Diamond Box that gives you early access to one of the game’s new characters. For example, when the Tangled emojis were introduced, there was a corresponding event that rewarded players with a Diamond Box containing either Rapunzel or Pascal.
The nefarious part of these events is that Diamond Boxes are available for sale at the cost of 200 gems. Since Rapunzel and Pascal offer extra bonuses during the Tangled event, there is a temptation to cough up some extra gems to make it easier to complete the challenges before time runs out. Ultimately, these characters will be added to the Gold Boxes after the event is over, so completing all the challenges is not all that important.
The primary appeal to the events for me is that they mix up the game play. For example, there are team-up events that allow players to tag-team two different emojis. You select one and the other is assigned to you. As an added bonus, this allows you to try out characters you haven’t unlocked. During the Pirates event, the timer was decommissioned. Instead, bombs would drop which players had to clear before they exploded. Once a certain number of bombs blew up, your game was over.
Disney Emoji Blitz is a fast, fun game that will appeal to Disney fans and casual gamers. The average game takes less than 90 seconds, so it’s easy to pick up and put down whenever you have a few minutes to kill. Like other puzzle games, the game play is deceptively simple and can be addictive. But if you want to put the game down between events, you won’t be penalized for not playing.
One side note, the emojis you unlock are easy to use if you have an iPhone. If you’re an Android user like myself, you have to find some kind of manual work around if you actually want to use the emjois in a text message. The game’s instructions reference an icon which doesn’t exist on Android phones. I eventually figured out the steps necessary to send my Disney emojis, but at the end of the day it proved to be more effort than it is worth. So the emojis themselves are a much greater benefit to iPhone users than the rest of us.