The Smurfs: Mission Vileaf Smurftastic Edition
As The World Turns, Licensed IPs Will Continue To Exist
Very few IPs have transcended across generations like Belgian's own The Smurfs, now reaching a new generation with a new TV series. As with most recent revivals of older IPs, a new TV show is often followed by a video game follow-up. The blue buddies are no exception with the release of The Smurfs: Mission Vileaf, a new platformer with a unique plot. Before we discuss further about the game, those who have followed our articles will notice a familiar publisher. Microids, almost as common as Outright Games, are commonplace enough to deserve their own tag at this point.
The developer, OSome Studio, is a lesser-known French indie development studio. Their most known work was their remasters of the Asterix & Obelix XXL series. Coincidentally, this was also an IP based on a European comic. Based on how the games were handled, it comes as no surprise that the studio would be in charge of developing their own Smurfs title. However, working on a new title is different than remastering existing ones. How does Mission Vileaf fare for The Smurfs in comparison to other lackluster platformer IPs we have seen in the past?
Clean The Corruption In The Smurfs
The game begins with a storybook presentation complete with a narrator speaking in rhymes. Apparently, the Smurf village and everything around it are corrupted by this unknown substance. Affecting wildlife and sprouting these corrupted beasts, the Smurfs are armed with the "Smurfizer." Using this gun, the smurfs spray this pollen-like substance, purifying the muck and restoring the land to what it was.
From this premise alone, I couldn't help but think about Kena: Bridge of Spirits and its similar plot with nature, corruption, and other deep topics. However, the best comparison I can give is that the land is corrupted and the game requires the player to "cleanse" the area. As the areas get cleaned up, more paths are opened which continues through Mission Vileaf. I couldn't help but think of Super Mario Sunshine while playing it, as the F.L.U.D.D is basically the "smurfizer." It's also used as the main method of attack against the enemies, complete with jumping animations similar to Mario.
Despite Difficulty Options, The Game Felt The Same
At the beginning of the game, the player is allowed to choose between Easy, Normal, and Hard. However, due to the nature of the game is based on a children's IP, I found not even the "difficult" option, "difficult." It reminded me of Marsupilami Hoobadventure's "difficulty" where only minor gameplay changes are affected. I didn't feel as if the enemies were aggressive and the only hazard in Mission Vileaf is water hazards.
Regardless, the gameplay is interesting and the controls felt tight. Some enemies are dispatched by jumping on their heads, while other platforming segments require precise jumping and routing. Any item that appears out of reach means that the player needs to find another route. Sometimes, these are out of the way while other times there are paths hidden in plain sight. The exploration is definitely there which is a surprise for titles such as these.
Get Prepared For The Smurfining
Ironically, the main negative I have to say aside from the "lack of" difficulty is the voices of the smurfs. It's not really because of the delivery or anything. It's just pretty annoying to hear any word replaced with the term "Smurf." What does "Smurf" mean? Why is it being replaced with simple verbs and adjectives? Instead of saying "The sky is blue," it's "The sky is smurf." One can tell me that this is because "Smurfs are blue" and to that, I say "Fine." What about the other reasons for replacing a word like "going to the lake" with "smurfing to the lake?" I know I am smurfing---nitpicking of the highest order, but it just becomes mundane.
I also realize that this isn't a blemish on the game itself but on its IP. While I may not understand the meaning behind such word conventions, thankfully, it's the gameplay that matters. The Smurfs: Mission Vileaf is a fairly decent platformer for newcomers and vets alike. It may not win any major accolades but it could go far worse than what it is. It's a decent stocking stuffer this holiday for the little Smurf in your life. It could also just be a way to milk achievements if you're into that sort of thing. Regardless, Mission Vileaf is a charming enough Sunshine clone. It even comes with stickers, a keychain, and some postcards!
The Smurfs: Mission Vileleaf is available for the PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.