As far as 3D platforming games go, The Smurfs – Mission Vileaf is better than it has any right to be.
Developed by OSome Studio, the team behind Asterix & Obelix XXL2 and XXL3, The Smurfs – Mission Vileaf makes a few missteps. But for the most part, this is a franchise tie-in game done right. It’s aesthetically pleasing, fun to play and, surprisingly, packed with plenty of content.
You have one key goal in The Smurfs – Mission Vileaf: rid the Smurf Village and its surrounding areas of the titular Vileaf; an evil plant spread around by the nefarious Gargamel in an attempt to imprison the Smurfs. But it’s also highly toxic, so if the Vileaf isn’t dealt with quickly, it’ll prove disastrous for the forest.
Thankfully, Papa Smurf’s already on top of things: he’s created a powerful antidote to the toxic plant and, with the help of a Smurfizer gun, the Smurfs are able to repair the plants that have been affected by it. And so, equipped with the Smurfizer, you’ll take control of a number of Smurfs as you venture around the game’s world, tackling the Vileaf and saving the village.
The actual act of restoring the plants in The Smurfs – Mission Vileaf is rather relaxing. Simply hold the right trigger to release the antidote spray and patches of brown, affected grass will turn back to green, rewarding you with a small amount of currency for doing so. I could happily wander around, simply restoring the Smurf Village’s greenery, but there’s much more to Mission Vileaf than that. There are Vileaf-affected creatures to fend off, challenging platforming sections to beat, Smurfs to save, and a fairly sizeable world to explore.
Along with the ability to restore plant life, the Smurfizer has a number of other tricks in its arsenal that will unlock as you play. It can be used as makeshift jetpack, allowing a Smurf to glide through the air for a short time after jumping. It can also be used to perform a powerful dash, and both actions are frequently needed to traverse the game’s world. For the most part, traversal is fun; bouncy mushrooms and floating bouncy platforms provide springboards to get to higher points of the map, and combining those with your dash or glide ability mean travelling long distances is rarely an issue.
Traversal can get tricky, though, and considering this is a game primarily aimed at young players, it does lead me to wonder if OSome Studio occasionally lost sight of their target audience. For example, long gaps often require a precise use of jumping, gliding and dashing, which can mean a fiddly procession of inputs on the controller. For young players, it’s going to prove very challenging.
Combat can also be needlessly frustrating, even on the game’s easier difficulty settings. Basic enemies simply need blasting with the Smurfizer gun for an amount of time in order to be defeated. Others need to be jumped on then blasted, or dashed into. Alone or in small groups, no enemy ever really causes an issue. But some combat encounters throw multiple types of enemies at you, which means avoiding taking damage can be very difficult.
Those small frustrations do mean, however, that despite being a game clearly aimed at children, The Smurfs – Mission Vileaf is perfectly pitched to appeal to adults, too. If you’re a fan of 3D platform games, regardless of your age, you’re likely to enjoy playing this far more than you’d expect to. It helps that it’s very well made. Production values are high throughout, with impressive visuals and good voice acting. Every area of the game’s world looks fantastic, and exploring it is a joy.
There’s a surprising amount of content here, with five worlds that you’ll visit numerous times over the course of the game. And for completionists there’s plenty more for them to sink their teeth into. Each world has a number of collectibles hidden around to find; some of them you’ll collect over the natural course of the game but others need hunting down by venturing off-course. You’ll use these collectibles to buy upgrades for your Smurfizer. Most of them aren’t necessary to complete the game, but will help make things a little easier for you.
Thanks to a colourful, well-designed world, challenging platforming sections and engaging gameplay, The Smurfs – Mission Vileaf solidifies itself as an example of one of the best children’s franchise tie-in games we’ve seen in recent years. It might be a bit too challenging for younger players by themselves, but it means it’s just as fun for adults, too. This is a commendable 3D platforming adventure that players of all ages will enjoy.
The Smurfs – Mission Vileaf Review: GameSpew’s Score