With a new movie featuring Peyo’s famous blue creatures known as The Smurfs in theaters, it’s only natural that a videogame tie-in follows suit to capitalize on the hype. The big problem however, is that these movie games are almost universally horrible. But what happens if a movie tie-in isn’t that bad of a game at all?
The Smurfs 2
Developed by Wayforward / Published by Ubisoft
Available on the PS3, Xbox 360, Wii and Wii U. Reviewed on the Xbox 360.
*Review copy provided by Ubisoft
With The Smurfs 2, Ubisoft and Wayforward (developers of the popular Shantae games and the recently released Double Dragon Neon) bring young ones and perhaps older gamers a four player co-op game that’s slightly on the simple side, but pretty good fun nevertheless.
In the game, the evil Gargamel – the lanky sorcerer who is forever pursuing the Smurfs in order to steal their secrets – has ordered the kidnapping of Smurfette using his newest creations, the Naughties. After they succeed in capturing Smurfette and whisking her away, Papa Smurf and his merry band must traverse strange and dangerous locations and face off against creatures in order to rescue her. While the game does carry the same title as the film, it really doesn’t have much to do with the movie’s plot, other than the search for the missing Smurf.
Gameplay takes players across six worlds that feature five stages and a final boss each. The Smurfs hometown serves as the hub world, and each world portal is unlocked after the completion of the previous. You start off visiting the Enchanted Forest, but soon you’ll be visiting locales farther from home, like the Spooky Woods, Artic Tundra and Paris, on your quest to save Smurfette.
Before venturing out to the stages, players get to choose which Smurf they want to play as. At the start, only six Smurfs are available to choose from. Each Smurf packs a special ability that can help out in some way, so choosing the right skills for the mission ahead can help out and simplify things quite a bit. Papa Smurf, for example, can throw potions that freeze time, while Clumsy can roll to avoid pitfalls or take out enemies safely. Completing worlds will unlock new characters too, so you’ll have quite a few options when tackling levels after a while.
Speaking of stages, the game plays similarly to side-scrollers like Sonic the Hedgehog, minus the speed. Smurfs trek across the screen from left to right and must pick up blueberries for health and points, as they’ll die from one hit if they don’t have any. They also have to avoid all manner of creatures and pitfalls, and reach the end where Gargamel usually appears to taunt players and tries to attack them. Stages are pretty easy to complete, as the platforming is simple (though it gets harder later on in the game) and the stages only take a couple of minutes to get through, but for children there’s plenty of challenge here. The platforming is solid, and the controls are tight, responsible and most importantly, easy.
While stages are straightforward, and you have the occasional boss that requires a bit of thinking, there are plenty of reasons to replay levels. There are collectables coins hidden in each stage, which can be reached using certain Smurfs abilities or running into hidden chambers that aren’t revealed until you are in near proximity. These unlock even more Smurfs, though they only inhabit the hub world.
Then there are also stage challenges, which task players with completing specific parameters in stages. Some of these require players to collect a certain amount of berries, while others have players achieving True Blue, a state where blueberries are worth more after collecting enough essence from fallen enemies. The challenges are varied enough to keep players coming for more, and each stage has three.
At the end of the day, WayForward’s newest effort is an excellent game for kids. While it’s not deep in storyline, and it’s not the prettiest game to look at, it offers solid gameplay, easy to master controls, and quite a bit of replay value. If you’re looking for the next game to play with little tykes, or you just want an excuse to check out Peyo’s creations in video game form, then you might want to give The Smurfs 2 a try.