I don’t remember much about The Smurfs from when I was a kid but I do know I was a bit of a fan. I had several Smurf toys including a jigsaw and a stencil set that I was particularly fond which enabled me create my own Smurf cartoon scenes. Of all the different Smurf characters the only one I can still remember is Papa Smurf with his distinctive red outfit.
The Smurfs Epic Run is a new free-to-play mobile game created by Ubisoft with the help of Studio Peyo. Its core gameplay is that of an auto-runner platformer that reminds most of Ubisoft’s Rayman games such as Jungle Run and Legends. The game also takes inspiration from many other titles too with obvious influences that include King’s Saga games, Jetpack Joyride and even Flappy Bird.
The game has a simple story to set the scene. The Smurfs sworn enemy, Gargamel the Evil Wizard, has cast a fog spell on The Smurf village. Doing so has let him capture all the Smurfs except one and this is who you start the game as.
There are currently over 100 levels in The Smurfs Epic Run and each is laid out on a Candy Crush style map. In order to progress you must beat each level in turn. The majority of the levels are side-scrolling platformers where your Smurf automatically runs from Gargamel’s fog.
Your job is to help your Smurf stay ahead of the fog and avoid the various dangers along the way. Doing so requires quick thinking, fast reflexes and good timing. Levels are littered with coins to collect, enemies and traps to avoid, multiple paths and special potions.
Each time you tackle a level you are given a similar level but the obstacles can come in a different order. This keeps things interesting and prevents you from memorising whole levels. There are three objectives per level – finish the level, collect a set amount of coins and rescue your fellow Smurfs.
If you take the right paths then your will come across caged Smurfs. Running into these cages is enough to free a Smurf and once free they will run along after you to escape the fog. If you’re not careful they will succumb to the many dangers around the levels. If you manage to rescue them all and keep them alive then you can often open up new paths and secrets in a level.
Certain levels also feature the more well-known Smurfs. Rescuing these Smurfs can bring you benefits and allow you to play as them too. Each of these Smurfs has their own unique powers such as the ability to glide, stomp, double jump or dash. Smurfs can also be equipped with companions, rings and power-ups.
Controlling your Smurf is very simple as they auto-run. All you need to do is tap the screen – a single tap makes them jump while a second tap will activate their special power. Timing is crucial as a mistimed jump can leave you tumbling to your death or colliding with a trap or enemy.
In addition to the normal levels the game features exotic levels with twisted gameplay. There are also daily adventures, bonus zones and a weekly tournament where you compete against friends or the world.
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Graphically the game looks absolutely fantastic thanks to the involvement of Studio Peyo. They’ve managed to stay true to their original comics yet update the art to a more modern style. The backgrounds that the levels are set against look stunning.
Being free-to-play lets the game down a bit with the usual trappings. My biggest problem is the energy system. Each attempt at a level requires you to spend your limited energy which can easy be used up in 4-5 runs. The game is quite generous at giving you ways to earn more but when you’re out you are forced to wait, watch adverts or pay real cash for more. If you have friends who play then you can send each other energy via FaceBook.
Overall The Smurfs Epic Run is a lot of fun and a very polished mobile game. There are a few free-to-play niggles but the game is sure to please Smurf fans and players who enjoy the genre. It does start to get more difficult after the first few levels but is still suitable for players of all ages. Being free-to-play at least lets players try it out to see if they enjoy it.
Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Release Date: January 14, 2016 Reviewed On: iOS Also available on: Android