I guess it’s a sign of my age when I remember watching The Smurfs and Father Abrahams perform on Top Of The Pops, but the little blue guys have been going for over 50 years. It’s a wonder, then, that an iOS game has taken this long to arrive.
Capcom are the (somewhat unlikely) people to bring Smurfs on to Apple’s platform and more surprising still; they’ve made it a freemium game. While some may initially cite similarities with Farmville, Smurfs’ Village is different enough to be its own game.
The basic premise is that Gargamel, the evil wizard who is hell-bent on finding and getting rid of the Smurfs, has destroyed the Smurf Village. Your job, then, is to help the tiny blue people to build a new village, while protecting against Gargamel and Azreal his cat and helping out forest creatures. Initially, this involves creating plots of land that can be farmed for different fruit and vegetables, earning you XP and coins which will allow you to level up and buy new buildings and equipment.
Building new Smurf houses will give you more workers and open more plots of land. Papa Smurf (the leader of the Smurfs) will also give you tasks to complete, such a building a bridge or growing new vegetables for a potion. As you complete these tasks, new areas, tools and buildings become available for you to expand your village. The game carries on in the same way, with your village expanding and XP rising until it gets to a capped level (which Capcom have already raised in the latest update).
One of the most notable aspects of the game is the way Capcom have perfectly captured the look and feel of the Smurfs themselves. They’ve brought the world of the little blue creatures to life in brilliant HD and the village looks wonderfully bright and colourful. On the iPad this is especially noticeable, with much more room to move and take in all the scenery. If you own an iPad and are a fan of the Smurfs then it’s worth downloading the game just to see what Capcom have managed to achieve.
The Freemium content comes in the form of Smurf Berries. When you first start you’ll be given a few Smurf Berries to use. These initially allow you to instantly grow crops and build buildings faster, some of which take several hours to several days in real-time to build. Once you level up to you are given further Smurf Berries to use. Certain items, such as shops or special buildings, can be only bought with a large number of Smurf Berries. This encourages players to buy them at £2.99 for a small batch or further payments for larger amounts. While you don’t actually need to buy anything to create a village, buying a pot full of berries will really save time and allow you to buy a few buildings that you won’t otherwise be able to use.
Another reason for buying Smurf-berries is the mini-games. These appear when you put down certain buildings, such as the mine or fishing pond. The first go is free each day, which will give you XP and coins if you complete it. After this you can play to practice for free or choose to use a Smurf-berry in order to play again for XP and coins. After 24 hours the game allows you to play again without using Smurf-berries.
While some may bemoan the use of real money to buy berries, I found that Smurfs’ Village seems to be very fair with those who don’t want to opt in to the payments. It’s true that those wanting to do things the free way will have to wait, sometimes several days, for buildings to be ready, but the option is there.
Once you have a village you can be proud of, there is a social networking aspect to Smurfs’ Village that can be used. The game connects to Facebook (which is optional) so that you can invite friends to your village and visit theirs in return. While there, you can leave presents for them. It seems like Capcom missed a trick here, though, as you can’t gift anything really useful such as buildings or, more importantly, Smurf Berries. It would also be nice to be able have some sort of interaction beyond this, possibly having a message board or drawing tool. I’m hoping that these might arrive in a later update.
Early criticism had been levelled at the local saving of villages, which led to losing all your hard-earned work if you deleted the game or moved to another device. Capcom have since fixed this by providing cloud saving over Game Center. It works well, allowing you to play the game on one device and then continue on another. I’ve used this on the iPad and iPod Touch and it works perfectly.
While Smurfs’ Village isn’t a game for everyone and involves a fair amount of patience, if you’re a Smurfs fan or fond of games such as Farmville then you should really check it out. Be warned, though. Once you get into the game, it can be pretty addictive.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 10
- Gameplay: 8
- Longevity: 8
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