Here’s a game that’s been milling about the top grossing Apple apps list for a while: Smurfs’ Village from Capcom Mobile. Free to play on the iPad and iPhone, it’s a simple little game that brings a combination of basic city-building and farming to the old television cartoon — though with its high quality visual and nostalgia, it’s a game that tends to stand out from most others of its genre.
As the game starts, the evil Gargamel has found the Smurf village and the Smurfs have scattered through the forest, abandoning their home. The player must rebuild their village in a new, hidden, location, while trying to bring back all the memorable characters from the cartoon. The first step, is to build up a Smurfy economy.
This is where farming mechanics come into play, as users construct gardens in which to grow a variety of crops. As per the standard, crops that take longer to grow yield greater reward. Should the player not return in time to harvest them (which is not an issue if users enable push notifications) they will spoil.
Of course, in order to tend to the garden, Smurfs will be necessary. This is where basic city-building comes in, as players must balance out a very basic population mechanic through the construction of little Smurf mushroom-huts. One hut equals one Smurf, and for each job being done — be it growing crops or building said huts — one of the populace will be used. Also, in order to keep players from just building dozens of huts, a maximum is implemented for each level.
As one might expect, leveling unlocks more than just more populace potential. It also allows for better decorative items and better crops. What is of particular interest, however, is that as the user reaches new level milestones, some of the more famous Smurfs begin to make appearances. Greedy, Jokey, Handy. All the Smurfs users have grown up with are present and accounted for.
When they make their “appearance,” players will need to send out one of their Smurfs to find them. Upon their return (which only takes a few minutes at low levels), the user will be able to construct that character’s own unique home. Once completed, it unlocks simple mini-games that can be played a limited number of times a day and will reward both experience and coin.
These mini-games are certainly tailored for a younger audience (as with the rest of the game), as they consist of very basic mechanics. As an example, Papa Smurf has users shaking a the iDevice to mix a potion until it is the right color, while the cook, Greedy Smurf has a timing game that tasks users with removing bakery treats from the oven before they burn. Additionally, the games are timed, and many give added bonus based on how well the user does.
Socially, players can add their friends and view their villages via a forest map. The level of interaction is very low, and only really consists of gifting. Keeping that in mind, Capcom has a nice extra that allows users to visit other random players of Smurfs’ Village to see what they are doing with their virtual space. Not everyone is a master designer, so there is also a great addition that allows players to view “Featured Villages,” that will take them to some of the nicest and best looking Smurf Villages in the game.
Another plus to the game is the visual style. Aside from the nostalgia and implementation of classic Smurf characters, the game actually looks very good; holding true to the original style of the cartoon (only brighter). Also, with all the Smurfs moving about and working, the town truly does feel alive and is a great title for younger audiences. Nevertheless, since its primary monetization is through the purchase of virtual currency (“Smurfberries”), it’s something to supervise. As noted by The Star, kids have a tendency to rack up credit card charges with this and other similar titles, which sometimes sends parents onto the internet in search of justice.
All in all, Smurfs’ Village is a good iDevice title that gives players a high quality, and cute, virtual space app that incorporates some of the more basic farming and city-building elements. Along with some simple social implementations, appearances of classic characters, and a wonderful visual, it’s a great game that will be suited to either kids or adults.