The Smurfs 2 is the video game tie-in to the recently released movie by the same name. However, unlike the movie, Ubisoft’s Smurfs venture is something the little ones in the family will enjoy. Relying on co-op gaming and 2D side-scrolling very similar to Rayman Origins, The Smurfs 2 makes its mark on consoles, but it’s a title that core gamers will only play with the kiddies.
The Smurfs are getting ready to celebrate Smurfette’s birthday when Vexy, one of Gargamel’s Naughty’s, kidnaps the birthday girl for an evil plot hatched by Gargamel himself. Several Smurfs go on a mission that take them around the world to rescue Smurfette. Aside from having to rescue poor Smurfette, the game never truly delves into Gargamel’s evil plot, and the ending gets wrapped up in a nice big bow of family togetherness and friendship.
Players start with a handful of popular Smurfs that include Clumsy, Grouchy, Vanity, and of course, Papa Smurf. Through defeating bosses, players can unlock several other Smurfs including Hefty, Brainy, Gutsy, Jokey, and Smurfette. Each Smurf comes with unique abilities that allow the character to traverse levels and/or defeat enemies.
Papa Smurf throws potions that freeze enemies in their place. Clumsy topples over himself to avoid enemies and traps. Vanity admires himself in his hand mirror, which makes enemies fall in love with him and allow the other Smurfs to use him as a stepping stone to reach hard to access areas. Grouchy, Hefty, and Gutsy Smurf can all break blocks with their abilities though they have different ways of doing them. Jokey throws his signature exploding presents. Brainy uses his calculations to jump higher than any other Smurf. And lastly, Smurfette, can float on air to avoid traps and enemies, but only for a limited amount of time.
The Smurfs 2 has an uncommon graphical style that blends CGI characters with a 2D background layout. It looks odd at first glance; however, it actually lends itself to the look of the film. The Smurfs are by far the most detailed parts of the game. Each Smurf has his or her own way of walking, running, and jumping, lending credence to the fact that all Smurfs are like snowflakes. You will travel through different areas in the game which include New York, Paris, the Enchanted Forest, and the Arctic Circle. But all of the backdrops look very much like cardboard cutouts with not much going on in the background (aside from a few dynamic elements like the Eiffel Tower shooting off blue magic orbs or leaves blowing in the wind).
“Smurf Coins” are hidden throughout levels. I’m using the word “hidden” extremely loosely because the game’s linearity makes coins very easy to find. In fact, some of them are right in plain sight. Levels also contain in-game challenges to increase your score such as not killing enemies or obtaining a certain amount of Smurfberries.
Smurfberries are the lifeblood of game, but other than collecting them for a high score, they serve no purpose. Smurfberries are littered throughout levels in either bunches or lines for you to grab and go. They are the Smurf equivalent of the rings in any Sonic the Hedgehog game. Much like Sonic, having at least one Smurfberry in your possession will keep you alive if you get hit with a hazard such as falling debris or enemy AI. Enemies don’t pose much of a threat because most of them follow a set path or are just stationary. Those that do it make it their business to outright attack you are easily avoidable, too. When you kill an enemy, it drops a vial of blue liquid which does nothing by itself. However, when you collect four vials of said liquid you activate “True Blue” mode in which Smurfberries double in size and double in point value.
Boss battles take place at the fifth stage of each world. Boss enemy attacks are noticeably telegraphed and easily avoidable, much like their minions. Each boss goes down after three hits, but not before they go through a set number of attacks that leave them vulnerable. Bosses include Azrael, Vexy and Hackus, animals under Gargamel’s spell, and Gargamel himself. The unthreatening enemy AI and the abundance of smurfberries means that death never truly looms. And if you do die, the level restarts with no penalty.
The Smurfs 2 lets players to play as nine different Smurfs but it’s not until you finish the game that you unlock “Smurf Mode” which lets you swap between any of the nine Smurfs with a press of the triggers. This comes in handy when you come back to earlier levels to complete challenges or grab previously inaccessible Smurf Coins. It adds a decent amount of replayability to the game. The Smurfs 2 supports up to four-player local co-op yet doesn’t have any online co-op capabilities, which seems like a missed opportunity, but it doesn’t take away anything substantial from the game.
Dialogue is specific to each character and they have a few quips thrown in when walking around levels, using techniques, or collecting Smurfberries. Some of them are border on the humorous, but after a while hearing Papa Smurf recall his age for the 20th time will get a bit unbearable. Outside of Smurf banter, the only other voice you’ll hear is Gargamel’s taunting or Narrator Smurf advancing the story. Music in The Smurfs 2 is forgettable. Nothing sticks out at all with the exception of the famous Smurf La-La song that comes on whenever you activate True Blue mode. Much like the dialogue, its repetition will wear on your nerves after a while and you’ll start to avoid picking up vials so you won’t have to listen to the song again and again.
The Smurfs 2, at its core, is a children’s game and kids will have a great time running around Smurf Village looking for some of the other iconic characters and battling Azrael and Gargamel. Adults will soon find the game tiring and repetitive but it is enjoyable if you play it with your kids or younger relatives. If you are a big fan of nostalgia, but have no one to play with, then The Smurfs 2 can still be an enjoyable time.
You can buy The Smurfs 2 at Amazon.com for $39.99.