The Smurfs: Mission Vileaf (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)

In the distant past, long before streaming services and 24-hour cartoon channels, there was a thing called Saturday Morning Cartoons.  Kids back then, me included, looked forward to this time because it was one of the only times TV was made just for kids.  And as a child of the 80s, one of the most popular of these cartoons I remember was The Smurfs.  Originally a European comic strip, The Smurfs gained popularity in the US from the Hanna-Barbera cartoon.  I was never a super big fan of it, but I watched it anyway because, one, kids will watch pretty much anything.  And two, it came on right before the Pac-Man cartoon.  In recent years, The Smurfs have had a bit of a resurgence with a handful of computer animated movies and specials, and a new series on Nickelodeon.  And now there’s a new Smurfs 3-D platformer game.  In Mission Vileaf, the evil wizard Gargamel has created a plant that can capture Smurfs and lead him to their hidden village.  But luckily, Handy Smurf has invented the Smurfizer, a backpack spray gun that can destroy the plants and restore the vegetation that the Vileaf has contaminated.  Now it’s up to Hefty, Brainy, Smurfette, and more to use the Smurfizer to de-contaminate their forest home and stop Gargamel’s plans.  The Smurfs: Mission Vileaf is available on most current consoles and PC, but reviewed on PS4 here.

You’ll play as Brainy, Smurfette, Hefty, and more, but they all control the same.  Each Smurf can run and jump, but most of your movements are available thanks to the Smurfizer on their backs.  Hold down the R2 button to spray a cloud that decontaminates the plants.  This will make grass, mushrooms, and other vegetation go back to normal.  You can also defeat enemy plants this way by spraying them before they can attack you.  By collecting various goodies around the forest, you’ll be able to visit Handy Smurf and upgrade your Smurfizer.  Some give you necessary new moves, like being able to ground pound, glide in the air, and sprint super fast.  Other upgrades give you extra hearts, longer spray time, and more.

For a licensed game, this is a pretty decent 3-D platformer, but I still had some problems with it that kept me from staying interested.  They did their best to make goals and objectives clear, with text and arrows showing you where to go.  But sometimes it wouldn’t do that for me.  Not sure if I encountered bugs or what, but since the forest areas all kind of look the same, it makes it hard to navigate without those cues.  Sometimes it can be hard to tell where you land after a jump, too.  And I forgot how smurfing annoying it is that they say “Smurf” pretty much every other word.  But otherwise, this is still a fairly good 3-D platformer and you’ll enjoy it if you’re a die-hard Smurfs fan.

Kid Factor:

The Smurfs: Mission Vileaf is rated E for Everyone with an ESRB descriptor of Mild Fantasy Violence.  Evil plants can hit you and knock you back, and if you run out of hearts the game just sends you back to the last checkpoint.  Defeated enemies are just plants and most of the time you just restore them to their original selves.  While the game has lots of spoken voice, reading skill is still helpful for some of the text.  Younger gamers may need help with some of the trickier jumps, but luckily you can play the game in two player co-op mode and change the difficulty level at any time.

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