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Smurfs Kart Review (Xbox Series X|S & PlayStation 5)

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I wouldn’t be fooling anyone if I said that Smurfs Kart was the only karting game I had every intention of playing in 2023. Matter of fact, with the amount of cutesy racing games and candy-popping adaptations of children’s cartoons out these days, I’ll be the first to admit that Smurfs Kart, honestly, wasn’t the one that immediately popped out of the screen and drew me to my wallet. Was it due to the fact that it released in tandem with the DreamWorks All-Star Kart Racing announcement, or the simple fact that concept-wise, it wasn’t anything particularly out of the ordinary? Well, a bit of both, as it turned out.

Of course, I can’t ignore the fact that Smurfs Kart has, in all fairness, been out a little while longer than a few other karting entries in the book — so comparing it to the likes of DreamWorks’ upcoming karting entry just wouldn’t be fair in this instance. Mario Kart, on the other hand, well, that’s another story entirely, and one that we’ll break into shortly.

So, what exactly is Smurfs Kart, and how well does it compare to the likes of its racing peers? Well, having spent a good couple of days plowing through the courses and painting the village blue and white, I finally managed to chalk up a good enough response to the questions I had been asking myself in the buildup to the big day several weeks prior. Care to hear the whole story? If so, then be sure to read on for the whole shebang. Let’s talk, Papa Smurf.

Evidently Blue

Smurfs Kart doesn’t really need the same sort of introduction as a full-fledged action-RPG that’s beyond rife with convoluted mechanics and countless overarching narrative points, that’s for sure. On the contrary, it’s actually rather easy to paint the general aesthetic of Smurfs Kart, as it is, in all honesty, a co-op karting venture that delivers just about everything you’d expect to see from such a timeless concept.

For the sake of providing a little more detail, though, I’ll go ahead and break it down a little. What is Smurf Kart, really, and how does it work? Well, in case you’ve yet to throw yourself into the pandemonium that is split-screen co-op karting, Smurfs Kart is a multi-tiered racing game that essentially pits several players against one another over a series of themed tracks. There are power-ups, similar to those featured in Mario Kart, hop-and-slide drifting, and a selection of tournaments to compete in. None of this is particularly surprising in this day and age, what with every other karting game of its kind all cashing in on the exact same thing. That said, Smurfs Kart takes a stab at it, regardless, and does so surprisingly well, all things considered.

Although mechanically one and the same as just about every other karting game on the planet, visually, Smurfs Kart is a real treat in itself. Truth be told, in spite of its relatively bite-sized frame rate of 30, the world that it presents is incredibly clean and easy to sift through — even when witnessed at high speeds of 60mph or higher. It’s also themed, which alone makes it less of a direct rip-off of Mario Kart, and more of a worthy tribute to the beloved franchise that’s been going strong for just shy of sixty-five or so years.

A Pitstop, Nothing More

Unfortunately for those looking to spend a few weeks on a hearty racing game, Smurfs Kart doesn’t quite reach the same heights as Mario Kart, as it only brings twelve races to the table — all of which can be mastered in two, maybe three quick laps. And so, as far as replay value goes, there isn’t a whole lot there. Not that this would bother a bunch of younger players and a slew of die-hard fans of the blue folks, mind you. But for the average person, there isn’t a whole lot more outside of the standard twelve-piece, which means you can brush through the entire experience in just a few short hours.

As far as playable characters go, Smurfs Kart only has the twelve, all of whom come with their own custom karts and voice actors to compliment their personalities. As it turns out, though, there aren’t any options to personalize each of these karts, which doesn’t exactly help with the game already having little to no replay value whatsoever. Instead, you’re pretty much left to stick with what’s given to you on a silver platter, which means there are no areas to tap into and tweak to your own preferred play style. You can’t even dye the chassis blue, for crying out loud.

Let it be said that anyone who’s a heart for the blue villagers will no doubt find a handful of reasons to return to the twelve courses in Smurfs Kart, in spite of them not having much replay value or any options to alter or even spice up with a few additional modes or rules. But if you don’t fit that description, then chances are you’ll mop up just about everything there is to see and do in four hours or less.

I’ve Been Here Once or Twice Before

Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that the beloved Smurfs are getting their long-overdue revival in the realm of video games. It seems right, if anything, as the franchise itself has always had just enough material and a legacy lionhearted enough to span several future generations. Did this warrant an expansion in the form of a karting game? Apparently so. Was it a good move for developer Eden Games? Meh — I’m still on the fence with that one.

To put it out there, there isn’t a whole lot to write home about with Smurfs Kart, as it is, more or less, a Smurf-studded version of Mario Kart — right down to the emulated hop-and-slide drifting mechanics. And that isn’t an exaggeration, either, as its course design and gameplay elements are one and the same; power-heavy, high-octane, and evidently adrenaline-fueled and bursting with color. Not that this is a bad blueprint to base your game off, mind you. Sure it’s all a little wishy washy and predictable beyond measure, but as they say — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Granted, it isn’t the first of its kind to draw blood from the Mario Kart template, what with Crash Team Racing, Nickelodeon Kart Racing (and Racing With Ryan, just for good measure) all owing some amount of credit to the poster child of karting. Having said that, even after seeing countless iterations of the same old formula, I honestly expected Smurfs Kart to add another ingredient — if only to shake it up ever so slightly. But, you know, it didn’t.

Verdict

As far as family-friendly karting games go, Smurfs Kart is an excellent addition to the collection. In spite of its blatant lack of originality in its design, it’s still a whole lot of fun, and not to mention a real credit to the Smurfs franchise, in general. Would a sequel to the action-platforming game The Smurfs: Mission Vileaf have been a better choice for Eden Games? Perhaps. Having said that, the devs made a smart decision to capitalize on a genre that, quite frankly, hasn’t dwindled in popularity for well over two or three decades or so. Kudos to them for that, at least.

At the end of the day, though, if the best Smurfs Kart has to offer is a watered down Mario Kart clone that’s flushed with traces of blue and white, then we have every reason to be a little disappointed. I’m not saying Eden Games didn’t try, as there’s clearly a lot of heart and soul encased within the experience itself. But again, it doesn’t really provide anything that’s worth writing home about. It warrants a quick pitstop, if anything — nothing more, nothing less.

Having said all that, there’s still a lot to enjoy with Smurfs Kart if you are so inclined to play it — even if it is over a relatively short period of time. It’s a nifty little racing game with a big heart, and it’s an incredibly beautiful one, at that. As for whether or not it’s worth the price tag of $30 is another question, though. For Smurfs fans, yes — but for the everyday gamer who only wants what’s best for their pennies, no. Smurfs and roundabouts, really.

Smurfs Kart Review (Xbox Series X|S & PlayStation 5)

Not Enough Blue

Don’t get me wrong, Smurfs Kart isn’t a bad game in the slightest, but its lack of tracks, characters, and pick-me-ups (and an incentive to continue playing after the tournaments, for that matter), makes it hard to recommend to anyone who isn’t already a Smurf-loving know-it-all. It’s a cute karting game, and it has heart. Its just a shame Eden Games didn’t squeeze a little more blue out of it.

Jord is acting Team Leader at gaming.net. If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.