By Alicia Ashby From Gamezebo
Something about the Smurfs license is terribly friendly to social gaming, especially of the city-building variety. The Smurfs & Co takes more cues from FrontierVille than Capcom’s Smurfs social game, Smurfs’ Village, but actually manages to make the formula feel fresh, fun to play, and appropriate to the license.
In The Smurfs & Co you’ve been tasked by Papa Smurf with building a new Smurf settlement as part of a complicated plot that involves making a magic potion to defeat Gargamel. For most of the game, though, you simply focus on trying to chop down weeds, build Smurfy buildings, and attract more Smurfs to your village.
The Smurfs & Co is very reliant on making you try to attract “Celebrity Smurfs,” essentially the themed characters from the cartoon, by increasing your village’s happiness. You boost happiness whenever you erect a new building or add more decorations to your settlement. You can only put up one or two buildings before you have to spend time hacking back a veritable forest of weeds, thorns, and bushes. Clearing space is satisfying and really communicates the feeling of playing a very small creature trying to eke out an existence in a very large world.
You get amply rewarded for hacking down weeds in The Smurfs & Co. You get experience, money, and all sorts of different materials you need to spend in order to put up buildings. Breaking up rocks yields the same rewards, only you get slightly different types of building materials. A third category of material needs to be given to you by friends or bought with real money, a mechanic which eventually forces a solo player either to stop or start paying a “no friends” tax. There are also materials you can only get by visiting friends or spending money, too.
In addition to the quests the game gives to guide you on how to build your city, you can earn additional quests from the celebrity Smurfs who join your village. You earn the quests by talking to them and can additionally keep talking to them to uncover some amusing dialog. Most of the celebrity Smurf quests reflect the personalities of the quest giver: Handy Smurf wants you to build things, Vanity Smurf wants you to decorate, and Greedy Smurf wants you further his gluttony. This mechanic helps add a lot of personality to the game, while also acting as a good motivator for making further progress.
The only real negative to The Smurfs & Co is the stiff “no friends” tax that crops up after the first few hours of play. It becomes very difficult to make any progress past about level six or so unless you’ve got active friends in the game that are willing to send you stuff. That aside, the game runs very well and is ideal for letting a kid play on a parent’s account or letting a nostalgic child of the 80s revisit a little piece of their childhood. Most licensed games on Facebook aren’t really worth it, but The Smurfs & Co is actually a lot of fun on its own terms.The Smurfs & Co Preview >>
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