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Smurf Life

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Someone smurfed

Product: Smurf Life | Developer: Beeline Interactive | Format: iPhone | Genre: Casual | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.3.0
Smurf Life iPhone, thumbnail 1
This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about.

With all this recent talk of children (and their parents) getting caught out by IAPs, you might have thought that now would not be the right time to launch a new freemium game with smurfs in. But what do I know, I'm not a smurfin' business man am I?

Regardless, I've been invited to the land of the schtroumpfs to help rectify whatever dastardly plot Gargamel's been cooking up recently, probably save the day, and maybe spend a bit of money on IAPS in the process.

So join me as I find out whether Smurf Life is smurftastic or a big sack of smurf.

First Impressions

On loading up the game I can choose the appearance of my avatar onscreen - I'm going to realise the dream of many fans of the series by smurfing myself and appearing in the gameworld.

Okay, so all I can do at this stage is pick which colour top I'm going to wear. It looks like there'll be more options to deck myself out in the clothes I like later in the game.

IAPs explained
Moondust is a minimum spend of £2.99 for 50. You can't do much with that amount, perhaps buy a few new pieces of furniture, and a couple of days' worth of speeding up the progress of building items. You can also use it to replenish your Energy, but that refills gradually over time.
I must say that the visuals are very cohesive. They're not smurf-blowing, they're not hyper-detailed, and the animation of characters is basic as they interact with the static world around them, but it all fits together well.

It's like a moving comic book, really - when you're not interacting with the game, nothing ever seems out of place. It's almost uncanny.

The menu layout is large enough for little hands to quickly access the content they want, with a Quest log on the left that shows the available tasks.

Without directly insinuating anything on the part of the developer, the button to buy more Moondust - the premium currency - is also very prominent, and the process takes just two taps, so if you're thinking of letting your kids play this make sure you're aware of how to turn off IAPs.

The music's charmless and twee, much like that found in the animated series, and you can't listen to your own tunes while playing, which is a bummer, but this restriction definitely adds to the atmosphere of being in the smurfs' village.

Day 3: Shooting the Moondust

Now that I'm a few days into Smurf Life I'm getting to grips with the core gameplay, and it's all a bit RPG, albeit without the combat, and more fetch quests. You're assigned Quests by the village's inhabitants, and these involve gathering resources and crafting items.

Here's an example of a basic request: you need to build a Wooden Mallet. To do so, you'll need one Wood and one Wooden Dowel. Wood is cut from trees and uses up your energy, which is simple enough. The dowel needs to be created first, though, and you'll need one piece of wood for that too. So you need to source two pieces of wood, and perform two crafting actions, to clear the request.

This process is tedious - especially this early in the game. The wait times to produce items are low enough to discourage you from wandering very far from the crafting table, but not short enough to keep your momentum flowing.

This is made worse by an initial inability to queue items you want crafted - you'll need to fork out Moondust if you want this invaluable option.

What doesn't take up your precious time, though, is getting from location to location. Whenever a Quest is active, a useful path of shining golden dust leads you to the next objective, ensuring that you never get lost, and you can simply press the icon of the building or person you need to interact with to set an automated route for your smurf to travel towards.

Of course, you needn't build your own stuff - you could buy it with the less finite Trade Tokens currency, but if you do take this route you'll run out of moolah quite quickly.

Day 7: Pint-sized problems

I don't think I'll be returning to Smurf Life after this week of play. Which isn't to say that there's no enjoyment to be found in it - only that that enjoyment is spread pretty thinly, and to get the most from the game you'll probably need to be a fan of the franchise.

A couple more gripes have sprung up in the last few days, such as some quests that have you performing actions that cost premium currency. For example: getting Smurfette to return to the village costs Moondust, and as she's one of the iconic characters that fans of the series will want roaming their land it's pretty much necessary for spend this finite currency.

Occasionally the game won't warn you that you're about to use this precious Moondust, too. I extended the number of items I could carry and, without being informed, had 20 Moondust taken from me without so much as a confirmation. If you're budget conscious, whenever this happens to you it's like you've been deceived by the developer, and no one wants to feel like that.

On the plus side, I now have a fairly expansive village. Completing Quests can push back the clouds covering the game world, returning smurfs to the land and giving you access to more resources and missions.

My own house is starting to take shape, too. Vanity Smurf assists you in decorating and rejuvenating your home with wallpapers, floor coverings, furniture, and more in exchange for Trade Tokens. I love putting my own personal stamp on a gameworld, and there are certainly enough house items to allow me to do this.

The game is also gradually starting to pick up the pace. Every time you create an item, you improve your abilities in making that item, cutting the wait time down. The more you play, the less you'll sit twiddling your thumbs.

It looks great, and getting to inhabit and interact with the world of smurfs will probably be enough to keep some people playing, but the long wait times with nothing to do, and miserly approach to premium currency, just won't cut the mustard with most.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG Community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below.
Smurf Life
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 6 March 2013
A little too money-grabbing for most tastes, Smurf Life might look brilliant, but its slow pace and approach to its payment model remove a lot of the fun
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