Do you hear that? Anyone old enough to remember The Smurfs cartoon cannot help but hum the familiar tune in their head anytime the name is mentioned. In 2011 Sony Pictures reinvigorated the franchise with a live-action meshed with CGI movie. Of course, with any good licensed property we are always bound to receive video games to coincide with its release. Smurfs 2 fills that quota with a traditional platformer. The big shocker to me upon booting it up though, was its developer.
Smurfs 2 is developed by WayForward, the same guys behind Aliens Infestation, Bloodrayne Betrayal and the upcoming DuckTales remaster. They have a solid track record when it comes to crafting side-scrolling adventures.
What WayForward has delivered is a pretty standard platformer that takes few chances, and plays it safe mechanically. Smurfs 2 is a side-scrolling adventure that can be played cooperatively with up to four players, and starring a host of familiar characters. It sparks a small hint of Metroidvania with each character possessing specific powers and ways to explore the environment, but nothing revolutionary.
Each stage consists of five levels with a boss at the end. Boss fights are pretty standard stuff, but players can unlock new Smurfs for their repertoire during these fights. Once a stage is complete, a new world opens up and the cycle begins again. Worlds are varied enough that they rarely grow stale. The mechanics are standard fare, with jumping and collection being the frontrunners. Each Smurf also has special abilities such as Papa Smurf’s ability to toss flasks to stun enemies, or Gutsy’s ability to break rocks.
Traversing levels, players collect Smurf Berries. Collect enough and that classic tune I referenced at the beginning of this review starts to play. When I got hit, they scattered all over the level, like a scene out of Sonic the Hedgehog. Smurfs 2 borrows a lot of its design from previous games, but never out of context.
Flying solo will require multiple playthroughs to complete each challenge, and to find the rarest items in each level, since only certain Smurfs can access specific areas. This can be remedied somewhat by playing co-op. Being a father, this is the kind of game I could see spending with my son. It is never overly difficult, making it a great title for parents and kids alike. It also helps that it is not a terrible mess simply created to cash in on the license.
The graphics in Smurfs 2 are alright. The level design is by far the highlight of the package. The game is built on a 2D plane with 3D backgrounds, and range from generic forests, to bakeries and more. The scale is what makes some it feel awkward. I could tell when the developers were pushing the 3D aspect with birds and such flying out of the screen. Sadly none of the voice actors from the movie are present, but what is here is decent enough. The plot vaguely follows the film enough to be associated with it, but none of it will keep players on their toes.
Smurfs 2 is a safe platformer that just so happens to be attached to a big summer movie. Parents with kids heavily into the movie could certainly do a lot worse as far as a game is concerned. Being able to play co-op is a huge bonus, and I could easily get lost playing this for hours with my son. It is a solid outing that hands out Achievements like Smurf Berries (for those that care). If you’re a parent whose child is obsessed with The Smurfs, I definitely recommend checking it out.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.