The Smurfs 2: The Prisoner of the Green Stone (PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, X/S, 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 that begat a few Smurfs games, too.  Like a kart racer I reviewed last year, and a 3D platformer I reviewed the year before that called The Smurfs: Mission Vileaf.  The Smurfs 2: The Prisoner of the Green Stone is the sequel to that game.  In this installment, Handy Smurf has invented the Smurfomix, a gun that shoots out pastries and cakes.  But he’s having trouble getting it to work right so he decides to sneak into Gargamel’s Lair to use a magic green stone to help improve it.  But when Handy accidentally breaks the green stone, a mysterious being named Stolas is freed and wreaks havoc and scattered green crystals everywhere.  Now Handy, Brainy, Storm, and the other Smurfs must make a temporary alliance with Gargamel to stop the chaos and save the day.  It’s a bit of a shock, but this game is actually kind of good, and it’s available on all current consoles and PC, but reviewed on PS4 here.

In the game, you’ll control one of the Smurfs, like Storm (guess there are other female Smurfs besides Smurfette now).  But all the Smurfs control the same.  You’ll explore forests, rivers, icy mountains, and more.  You can jump, double jump, and do a dash move for some extra air.  You can also ground pound, handy for destroying enemies and crystals below.  You also come equipped with a Smurfomix, modified by Handy so you can destroy the crystals and defeat enemies.  It’s kind of like a gun, so this game kind of has a Ratchet and Clank vibe to it, too.  Aim with the right control stick and fire with the R trigger button.  You can also do charged attacks with the L shoulder button.

As you play, you’ll come across various magical glowing flowers.  You can suck in their essence with your weapon by pressing the R shoulder button.  Some flowers restore your life, while others give you points for upgrading things (more on that later).  But there are also certain flowers that give you a secondary weapon.  The rapid fire honey shot can freeze objects in place, and there are also lobbing bombs and charging lasers that can activate other things, too.  Just be careful not to shoot the secondary weapons too much, as they can overheat.  As you defeat enemies and shoot crystals, you’ll earn currency you can use in the menu to upgrade various things like your health bar, weapon strength, and rate of fire.  It’s surprisingly complex for a kids game!

In the first game, the areas were a bit more open, so one of the problems I had was not knowing where to go.  But they fixed that in the sequel as the stages are more linear here.  I do wish they did a better job explaining how the upgrade system works, and even though this game is a lot better, it was still a bit repetitive enough for my interest to dull after a while.  But this is still a pretty good game for a licensed title, and should please fans of The Smurfs and 3D platformers in general.

Kid Factor:

The Smurfs 2: The Prisoner of the Green Stone is rated E-10 with an ESRB descriptor of Fantasy Violence.  You shoot fantasy crystalline critters with a magic gun, and they disappear when defeated.  If you’re OK with your kids watching the Smurfs movies and cartoons, they’ll be OK with this game.  Reading skill is helpful for some of the text.  And while there are multiple selectable difficulty modes, younger gamers may still need help with the more complex controls and jumps.

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