One of the most popular children’s franchises returns once again to star in a colorful 3D platformer with very good intentions and great results.
Video games aimed at a decidedly children’s audience do not usually get into the top sales of the day or bet on revolutionary formulas, although they are always welcome due to the scarcity of them during the most outstanding releases of the year. This is the case of The Smurfs: Operation Vilhoja , a new game from the always friendly Smurfs (with the exception of Grumpy) that is adorable in its staging and pleasant to play despite several aspects that slightly affect the game experience. In any case, the smallest of the house should not lose sight of this new 3D platformsexploration that lets you play without too many complications thanks to a practically testimonial difficulty and a good handful of challenges and collectibles. We analyze the new of the Smurfs in interactive format, already available on PC , PlayStation , Xbox and, now also, Nintendo Switch . Smurf!
Gargamel and his evil plans with the Vilhoja
The Smurfs have been starring in many video games for decades on all kinds of platforms, most of them betting on 2D platforms and other genres such as racing or minigames. And it is that the famous franchise created by the Belgian cartoonist Peyo at the end of the 50s became a phenomenon and one of the works of comics and, later, animated series for numerous generations of children, even making the leap to cinema and the medium at hand, videogames. Not for nothing, The Smurfsis one of the leading children’s brands among which we already comb gray hair and that now knocks again at the door of consoles and PCs to offer the young public an endearing three-dimensional adventure, a proposal that draws attention in several aspects, not it we will deny. The work of the French Osome Studio together with Microids , The Smurfs: Operation Vilhoja is aimed at the youngest players, although fans of the lighthearted adventures of exploration, jumps and some action here and there will find a simple proposal and, at the same time , attractive at the controls.
The plot, typical of any random episode of the series, serves as an excuse to tackle a new adventure in which four of the best-known Smurfs ( Brainy , Cook , Smurfette and Hefty) start a journey through 5 worlds to try to rescue the Smurfs trapped by the Vilhoja, a toxic plant devised by the evil Gargamel from the indications of an old Grimoire that allows to catch the little blue beings. But it is also that the Vilhoja poses a danger to the forest and the Smurfs’ own village. Luckily, Papa Smurf will encourage his bluish comrades to find the ingredients that will allow us to end the perfidious Vilhoja together with the ingenuity of Handyman and his Smurfette, an invention that will be key in our adventure and that will allow us to carry out all kinds of actions, from spraying to kill toxic plants to gliding, slamming, sucking and shooting and more. A formula slightly reminiscent of Luigi’s Mansion (or evenSuper Mario Sunshine , saving the distances) but applied to open environments.
As we say, the approach of The Smurfs: Operation Vilhoja is that of a 3D platform that is not too complicated both in its approach and in its invoice. We play with the four Smurfs mentioned through 5 different zones; At first we can only play with each Smurf at certain points by default, although at the end of the adventure we can visit each area with the character we want, with the aim of completing each level one hundred percent, if we wish. And it is that thanks to the Smurfetterer we will be able to open new areas previously inaccessible thanks to the new abilities that we will unlock, reach previously unreachable locations or complete small challenges and puzzles that previously it was not possible to complete. Of course, finish the game 100%It will be one of the great attractions of Operation Vilhoja, something on the other hand not very complicated; Of course, it also counts to fumigate all the contaminated plants and get all the collectibles, some of them quite far-fetched.
The development of the adventure, however, will quickly reveal its limitations and will become remarkably repetitive ; The objective of each area is the same, so once we get hold of all the Smurfs skills, we will only have to clean the levels beyond the end of the story and overcome all the challenges that we find in our path. The limited variety of enemies and situations will not help in this aspect either, becoming excessively repetitive after a couple or three hours. All this for a campaign that will not last more than 5 or 6 hours , and can be extended up to 10 hours if we want to get everything.
At the gameplay level, again we find chiaroscuro; While the Smurfs’ control is relatively intuitive, it doesn’t demonstrate the robustness or precision of other platforms cut from the same pattern. Sometimes it feels rough , especially in the jumps, in the Smurfette in hand confrontations or the time trial zones where any small mistake derails our intentions. The camera does not help in this regard either, since in more closed areas or with more obstacles than the account it feels clumsy and can leave us sold more than one, two, three and more times. A pity, since less experienced players will find in this aspect an extra barrier to overcome.
In contrast, the general difficulty of the game is testimonial , even at the highest level, where only the greatest damage received from enemies will change. In addition, the levels have numerous checkpoints in the form of save stones; If we lose all our hearts, we will return to the point immediately before, something that will not happen many times either. However, the most positive thing about the Operation Vilhoja formula is its interesting progression design that encourages us to explore and squeeze all the challenges to get hold of the collectibles on duty, specific to each area, whether they are gifts from the Joker Smurf or mushrooms, among others.
The grace of the matter is that only through collecting these elements can we improve our abilities , or rather, those of the Smurfy Smurf, in addition to increasing the hearts of life of our friendly bluish avatars. Far from wasting time collecting collectibles for no reason, Operation Vilhoja encourages us to squeeze each level to improve features such as the Smurfs tank, handling when gliding or the shock wave when falling hard. All these characteristics will help us in the final stretch of the adventure even with its low level of challenge. We insist, we are facing a game with a marked childish character .
A very smurfy staging
We come to one of the most striking aspects of The Smurfs: Operation Vilhoja, which is none other than its staging, both visually and soundly. Of course, with just a glance at any screenshot of the game it is clear that its developers have taken care to give the title a very animated series look . And despite the fact that the models and environments are rather simple at the modeling level, its cartoon appearance largely compensates for its limitations, a perception that improves even more in movement. It’s colorful, easy on the eyes, and even has surprisingly effective ambient lighting; yes, some framerate drops will not be missingat times with more elements on the screen and somewhat long loads, even on new-generation platforms, resulting in game optimization with some room for improvement. There will also be popping (the sudden appearance of objects in the distance) or textures, mostly too simple.
At the sound level, it stands out with laughing melodies that will accompany the action effectively, as well as sound effects that simply comply. But the best of all, without a doubt, is the localization into Spanish , both in the texts and in the voices. And it is that The Smurfs: Operation Vilhoja has an excellent dubbing, with well-interpreted voices for the many leading Smurfs and even for random Smurfs that we will find walking through the village and they will greet us kindly. This aspect will greatly help the little ones feel at home, remote in hand, almost as if they were enjoying an animated series or Smurfs movie .
To finish, and almost like an anecdote but that players who like to play in company will appreciate, The Smurfs: Operation Vilhoja offers a local cooperative mode for two players in which one controls the protagonist Smurf and the other does the same with the SAM robot (acronym for Motorized Aerial Sitemufo), a small flying device that will perform support tasks such as cleaning the contamination of the Vilhoja or eliminating enemies. Beyond that, the second player will not be able to do much more than accompany the protagonist Smurf, without even leaving the screen or going through jumping areas or platforms, which are not few. An addition that does not add much to the whole, to tell the truth.