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Smurfs Kart review for Nintendo Switch


Platform: Switch
Publisher: Microids
Developer: Eden Games
Medium: Digital/Cartridge
Players: 1-4
Online: No
ESRB: E

I need to start taking Smurfs games more seriously, it seems. Way back at the beginning of the year, I was pleasantly surprised by The Smurfs: Mission Vileaf, a 3D platformer that was way better than I was expecting. Now, as if to bookend 2022, we have Smurfs Kart – and wouldn’t you know it? It, too, is far better than it has any right to be.

In fact, I’d even say that it’s a pretty solid kart racer, all things considered. It works well, it looks nice enough, the tracks are varied, you have a good selection of characters to pick from: Smurfs Kart isn’t going to make you forget Mario Kart, but it also never embarrasses itself, either.

What’s surprising about this – at least to me – is that Smurfs Kart does a better job of populating its game with distinctive racers than other recent kart racers with much higher-profile characters (yes, I’m looking at you, Nickelodoen Kart Racers 3). I mean, it’s been decades since I last saw a Smurfs cartoon, so maybe a lot has changed in recent years, but I never think of the Smurfs as having a wide cast of characters. There’s Papa Smurf, obviously, and Smurfette, but beyond that…I think there was a grumpy one? And one who liked to build things? But no: Smurfs Kart has a dozen racers, each with their own kart and special ability.

On top of that, the tracks here all feel sufficiently different from each other that you never feel like you’re doing the same thing over and over again. There are twelve different tracks (more on that in a moment), and they each have different tricks and features, and many of them have enough hidden secrets that you can go back to them a few times and discover new shortcuts and tricks. They’re just the right length, too: not so short the races are over before you know it, but not so long it feels like the races last forever. This, improbably, is right in the sweet spot.

To top it all off, the races are competitive enough to be fun. You have enough weapons and goodies to uncover that you’re never out of any race, and the AI is well-matched with you. You don’t have to worry about crazy rubber-banding and having rival racers come out of nowhere to beat you, since you’re basically always in the thick of things. I don’t know if all this can be attributed to the fact that developer Eden Games has worked on the somewhat underrated Gear Club series, but whatever the reason, Smurfs Kart feels like a good kart racer should.

All of this comes with a major caveat, of course: there’s not a lot of content here. As you may have noticed a few paragraphs ago, Smurfs Kart only features 12 tracks. Again, they’re good tracks, but that’s really not very many. The game does its best to stretch things out by offering two levels of difficulty and a mirror option to reverse all the tracks, but it still means that it won’t take you too long to see everything this game has to offer.

I’ll take a “glass half full” approach to Smurfs Kart, though: if you had told me going into the game that I’d be left wanting more, I wouldn’t have believed you. As I wrote up top, it’s not about to challenge Mario Kart for the genre’s throne, but if you’re just after a kart racer that does a lot of things right, you’d be well-advised to look here.

Microids provided us with a Smurfs Kart Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B+