Skip Navigation

“The Rise of Kabuto Sumo: Why This Traditional Japanese Sport Is Taking the World by Storm”

“The Rise of Kabuto Sumo: Why This Traditional Japanese Sport Is Taking the World by Storm”

This game will be a huge hit for you if your favorite arcade game as a child is one of those coin pushers. Undoubtedly, one of my most beloved light games is Kabuto Sumo. You read it right—you play as sumo wrestling bugs. To remove their opponent’s bug from the ring and claim the title of champion, players alternately put pieces from their supply onto the board.

You may add more pieces to your supply for use in subsequent turns if you successfully knock off other pieces. To have greater options in the future, try to push your pieces just so! You must play this game, we can assure you. We got the opportunity to play the original game, the Total Mayhem expansion, and the Insect All-Stars expansion.

What’s Great

Kabuto Sumo is whimsical, beautiful, and enjoyable. Most importantly, enjoyable. The theme makes me laugh, and as a game designer, I want to know how a sumo wrestling bug game was conceived. I enjoy interesting themes like this.

The cards and bespoke insect pieces have wonderful artwork. I enjoy that the wrestling ring is elevated and the game is bright. Each bug has a unique portion or pieces in various forms and sizes. My favorite is the dung beetle ball.

Coin pushers function effectively and it’s satisfying when a well-pushed piece topples several pieces. This game is adorable and has made everyone grin when I’ve shown it.

Teaching is easy because the rules are straightforward. I like how bug wrestlers differ in difficulty. Each insect has various skills and pieces, so depending on your partner, you can make the game easier or harder.

Asymmetry makes matchups different each time, like genuine wrestling, which I appreciate. A junior wrestler mode removes the particular skills and preserves the different pieces. This is perfect for youngster play. I appreciate that every bug has a wrestler’s name. Many are clever puns or wordplays.

I Liked Both Expansions

I enjoy how the Insect All-Stars added many new wrestling talents. They make games more unpredictable and offer more matchups. My favorites were Teddy R, the stick bug, and Mother Superior, the praying mantis. You should get Total Mayhem if you could only obtain one expansion.

Wow, it makes your games chaotic in the greatest way. With this addition, chairs, tables, guitars, and even coffins can be thrown in the ring. These cards add pieces, abilities, and sometimes win conditions.

I love the table; if it falls, you win! My favorite new component is the coffin! This doesn’t get added to the ring, but at the end of each turn, you add a non-playable object of mayhem or signature piece to the coffin.

If you touch the board, you divide the items into piles and each player picks one. It’s a great “I cut, you choose” feature for the game. Many crazy pieces end up in the ring. I think I sobbed laughing the first time we played with it. I propose the coffin 12/10.

Recent rumors suggest a new expansion. I hope so. I’m not sure what I want, but if they make more Kabuto Sumo products, I’ll try them.

The Third Way

In my experience, Kabuto Sumo can end thirdly. The adults at the table get bored moving disks and not getting far, so they stop playing—someone at the table comments that everyone has stopped playing the review copy. People resume, believing that stated fact requires them to continue, but now they’re pushing the discs harder than the designer meant to loosen anything.

Bell Cricket Tolls for Whom

I play with kids? Very distinct. I played Kabuto Sumo with 6- and 7-year-olds at my afterschool program. The games were lightning-fast. Tops two or three moves. I still don’t understand how, but I started paying attention after the first two or three. They quickly requested another game. Kabuto Sumo gave me the best gift any afterschool counselor could ask for: it entertained four kids for an hour.

First Impressions

Kabuto Sumo regulations are simple. They are vague about how far you can push a piece onto the board. Our house rule is that you can only press till the back of the piece touches the stump. Despite some unanswered questions, we set up and started a game.

Assembly takes a few minutes and instructions recommend gluing components together. Yes, I agree. Next time you play, the setup is fast.

We played seven or eight Kabuto Sumo games, taking turns.

Game Mechanics

Kabuto Sumo seeks to be the last player on the stump.

Each participant chooses beetles. Advanced bugs have specific moves, whereas rookies fight without them.

Players take turns sliding pieces across the branch next to the stump. The component should move other board pieces (ideally). Any pieces pushed off the board belong to the active player for a future turn. Use these pushes to knock off the other player’s tokens.

One player or team is last on the stump or other players cannot add a piece on their turn, ending the game. Players on the stump or with pieces in their inventory win!

Game Build

What makes Kabuto Sumo fun? It all depends on the struggle. Pushing each other is hard. Since most pieces are circular, their angles affect their movement. I feel like playing pool. Adjust your shot to get the appropriate angles on spherical balls. Similar things happen with Kabuto Sumo.


Kabuto Sumo exceeded my expectations. My excitement for a game where players aim to knock each other off the edge was low. I was mistaken. Challenges and pleasant surprises await. I enjoy how the game scales to the player experience. This lets expert players compete with beginners.

Several evenings have been spent combating sumo beetles. The gameplay remains fresh and entertaining. A game is a hit in my house when my kids constantly request to play it.