Review: The Smurfs 2 video game is a smurftastic adventure for a younger audience
My childhood obsession made a comeback in 2011 when Sony Pictures Animation reimagined The Smurfs franchise. Granted, the reimagining wasn't exactly what I had in mind, but it was decent enough to warrant a sequel. Like most movies these days, it comes with a video game tie-in, but this one surprisingly works well as its own game.
The Smurfs 2 game is a simplistic platformer developed by Ubisoft and WayForward Technologies. It's clearly meant for a younger, more casual audience; on that merit, The Smurfs 2 video game holds up quite well. It definitely won't pose challenge to you expert platformers out there, but it does offer children and fans of The Smurfs franchise a charming alternative way to experience the adventure.
The game follows along closely with the storyline of the new movie; when Smurfette is captured by the evil Gargamel, our loveable blue Smurfs go on an adventure to rescue her. Important plot elements, like the introduction of Gargamel's new creations, The Naughties, are shared through still images presented in a storybook. Its simple approach to storytelling is a welcome experience, especially for fans of the comic books. And it's enough to convey the plot while not spoiling any details from the film (though I'm sure we all pretty much know how the story unfolds already).
Gameplay is not meant to challenge, but rather complement the story. Again, as a game targeting a younger audience, The Smurfs 2 doesn't present much of a challenge to more experienced gamers. It offers the most basic of platforming experiences: running from left to right and jumping on the tops of creatures to free them from Gargamel's evil clutches.
The game offers nine playable Smurf characters, each featuring their own unique “action ability.” For instance, Brainy Smurf can calculate higher jumps (double jump ability), while Gutsy Smurf is able to shoulder check himself through enemies and hardened blocks. Other Smurfs have similar abilities, but they are cleverly renamed and slightly tweaked to give some sort of individuality to each character. It's mostly all for show as you can really complete each level by simply running mindlessly from left to right. Remember, the game is meant to be enjoyed by children.
You can choose to play each level solo or team up with a group of friends locally. While totally playable alone, The Smurfs 2 is meant to be enjoyed with friends, as evidenced by the later levels' requirements for specific actions to meet bonus objectives and collect all of the coins. Coins are used to unlock the other 20+ Smurfs that populate your village, a nice meta-game for those looking for more to do. If you don't have friends, you can definitely play the levels again with the Smurf that has the required ability, adding some replay value to what is otherwise an extremely short game.
There are six unique environments in the game, each with five playable levels and one boss fight. The environments – which are actually quite enjoyable – take you through most of the locations that will presumably be in the film, with a few added in for some gameplay value. Each environment has roughly the same setup: a mini-boss encounter spread throughout the five levels, culminating in a final boss fight. In total, the 30-or-so levels shouldn't take longer than five hours to complete (though maybe a bit longer for you completionists).
The Smurfs 2 won't win any awards for innovative design, but fans of the franchise and the film will certainly enjoy it. If anything, it's a fun little platformer that will ease your mind as you reminisce about simpler days.
Reviewed on PlayStation 3.