Those who can’t get enough of everybody’s favorite little blue creatures might well be enticed to download Smurf Racer – a game that (at first glance) would appear to involve a Smurf, if not multiple ones, driving race cars. Developed by Top Publishing, Smurf Race does indeed feature a Smurf in a race car, along with Gargamel and a few “smurfy” power-ups, but despite what it appears Smurf Race is not exactly a racing game in the traditional sense.
Smurf Racer could best be described as a game somewhat along the lines of early Atari’s Kaboom, except a smurf in a race car plays the part of the bucket, Gargamel’s head takes the place of bombs, and the objective is for the smurf to avoid Gargamel and collect the occasional power-up. Misguided as this comparison may be, it’s strictly an attempt to explain how a purported racing game could be so different from what anyone might imagine a racing game to be.
While playing Smurf Racer, the player tilts their device to control the smurf car. Though the car can be moved left to right and right to left, its position is fixed at the bottom of the screen. Playing the part of antagonist, Gargamel is featured in head-form as he drops down from the top in any one of five lanes. The objective is for players to tilt to move their car from side to side avoiding the incoming Gargamels. A life is lost each time Gargamel and Smurf collide, but new lives can be earned by accumulating enough points via survival and item collection.
The bizarre gameplay of what is clearly not a racing game, despite its vague App Store description, is not only disappointing due to expectations, but also design. With or without the racing aspect, Smurf Racer does a poor job of presentation. Even when expecting nothing more than to catch items with a smurf in a car while avoiding Gargamel heads, Smurf Racer disappoints. The ratio of items to heads strongly favors the heads and thus the game quickly becomes a tilting cat-and-mouse bore-fest. Even if there were a few more items falling in relation to heads, the tilt responsiveness isn’t the greatest to begin with so frenzied tilting fun is probably out of the question regardless.
If Smurf Racer is licensed or endorsed by Peyo, NBC or Sony Pictures, then this would be surprising news. Regardless, Top Publishing’s version of a smurfy game leaves quite a bit to be desired. With its lack of gameplay creativity and orginality, it’s simply not on par for a paid game and so the taste of disappointment left behind can’t be washed away by the knowledge that it was free. As much as you might want to love a smurf-themed game for iPhone, Smurf Racer just isn’t the smurfiest one of all.