Smurfs Kart (Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, X/S)

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.  Last year we even got a Smurfs 3-D platformer which I reviewed.  And this year we get a kart racer.  I actually remember playing a Smurfs kart racer on the original PlayStation and it was one of the worst games I ever played.  Let’s hope this one is better.  Smurfs Kart is available for all current consoles but reviewed on Switch here.

This is pretty standard kart racing fare.  You can steer, accelerate, and brake, as well as jump and do power slides.  Pick up presents to use different items to take out other racers to gain the lead.  You can pick from several different Smurf characters, like Papa Smurf, Smurfette, and Jokey, who was always my favorite because he’d open his own exploding presents and then laugh anyway.  What a maniac.  And apparently Smurfette isn’t the only female Smurf in the village anymore, as there’s also Storm and Blossom, two Smurfs I’ve never heard of before.  All the racers control the same, but each one has a special weapon they can use.  You’ll race on tracks set to familiar locations like the mushroom village and Gargamel’s Castle!

You can do single player or up to four in local multiplayer.  I didn’t see any online options I’m afraid.  In single player you can do time trials, a single race on a track, or a grand prix with four tracks in a cup.  There are twelve total tracks, and you can earn stickers by completing certain objectives.  Some of the tracks are kind of cool.  I especially liked racing around Gargamel’s shelves in his lab and having him look at you, or Azriel the cat sleeping on the roof of the castle!

My only main complaint about this racer is that it’s way too hard!  Even on the easiest difficulty selection, I could only place in one of the cups.  You can even turn on auto steering and other assists, but it doesn’t help.  A kart racer aimed at kids shouldn’t be this hard.  If you want a new licensed kart racer, I’d go with the recently released Nickelodeon Kart Racer 3 instead.

Kid Factor:

Smurfs Kart is rated E for Everyone with an ESRB descriptor of Mild Cartoon Violence.  You can throw silly weapons like acorns at other players, and they just spin around when hit.  Reading skill is helpful for the text, but not necessary just to play.  Younger gamers may find it too difficult.

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