|Review by||:||Ken Gagne|
Making their first appearance on a home game console since the Colecovision, the Smurfs — those adorable blue creatures only three apples high — are in need of your help in this new PlayStation game from Infogrames.
Gargamel has kidnapped Baby Smurf! Only the strongest, bravest smurf has a chance of saving him. Players take control of Hefty Smurf in this platform game aimed at first-time gamers, ages five and up. The game methodology will be immediately familiar to most gamers: trek from the beginning of the level to the end, hop on enemies' heads to defeat them, collect a hundred coins for an extra life.
Players can choose two sets of levels to play, switch between, and replay. In the seven training levels ("It's a Piece of Cake"), Hefty cannot get hurt or die. These levels introduce players to basic game concepts and how a game controller relates to on-screen consequences. Between levels, players can entertain Baby Smurf, giving him milk, rattles, baths, or naps, whatever it takes to make him happy – supposedly, just as one would take care of a younger sibling.
The ten main levels ("It's No Picnic") are a bit tougher. Though they begin easily, later levels feature tight jumps and fast runs which may require several attempts. Additionally, each level has three hidden "Moon Pies" which can be surprisingly difficult both to find and obtain; players who find all thirty pies will be rewarded with a special ending.
The graphics are decidedly smurfy: Hefty maneuvers through colorful landscapes with a camera that pans and angles to help show where to go next. The items Hefty collects to earn extra lives change with each level, and they're a bit hard to recognize: they may be rattles, or lollipops — something like that.
The instrumental music is light and bouncy. Sound effects such as buzzing bees are appropriate, but Hefty when jumps or is hit, he makes an unexpected, rather un-Hefty squeak. Digitized speech is available in English, Spanish, and French.
There are, however, some disappointing oversights that Smurf fans will find jarring. There are few, if any, appearances by the more famous Smurfs (Brainy, Clumsy, Jokey), and even Hefty Smurf is missing his tattoo. The Smurfs' voice actors are not those used in the American cartoon, and sound somewhat British in the game. And except for a brief, out-of-tune moment at the end, there are no renditions of any of the Smurfs' memorable theme songs.
The Smurfs makes a smurfy introductory title for younger gamers, though later levels may smurf their patience. Even veteran gamers may find Smurfs to be a brief, enjoyable break from the usual gaming scene.
This article is copyright (c) 2000, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.
Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 24-Jan-00