How many kart games does the Switch need? Well, the Smurfs have thrown their name in as a contender. And while it executes the kart mechanics fairly competently, there’s just not enough here to justify purchasing the game over Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
For instance, the selections are limited. You have the option of either single-player or multiplayer. However, it’s local play only. As for racing options, there are three: Grand Prix, Free Race, or Time Challenge. The last one is only available in the single-player mode. Once you select your race type, you can choose the speed of the race. Unlike Mario Kart, where you have several different options, there are only two on offer: fun and hyperspeed.
There are a total of twelve Smurfs you can select. First, of course, Papa Smurf and Smurfette are options. But I am not familiar with the other Smurfs, such as Hefty Smurf, Clockwork Smurf, Blossom Smurf, and Clumsy Smurf, just to name a few. Granted, my knowledge of Smurfs is limited to the ‘80s, and I haven’t seen the new movies. But I guess that’s the advantage of the Smurfs; you could make up hundreds and nobody would question their existence.
Similar to Mario Kart 8, you can adjust the gameplay to allow smart steering and auto acceleration. You can also turn on tilt controls. I didn’t turn on any of these features during my time with the game, but these are excellent additions for younger players.
The mechanics are also akin to Mario Kart. For example, you can get a jump start at the beginning of the race by hitting the gas and timing it before the race starts. You can even perform powerslides and hit speed boosts located on the ground.
There are also item blocks that give you an advantage during the race. Such items include acorns (that act like green shells in Mario Kart), bees (similar to red shells), leaves (think mushrooms), and urchins (much like banana peels). The last one looked like an urchin; at least, I think it is. One of the downsides of this game is that it renders at 30 fps, which looks a bit muddy when playing. I’m generally not one that makes a big deal out of frame rates, but it stands out when comparing Smurfs Kart to Mario Kart 8.
There are only twelve tracks, which is too bad because the creativity around the included tracks is apparent. My favorite is Chaos at Gargamel’s, which showcases Gargamel’s castle. Maybe there will be additional courses with future DLC, but the content feels a bit shallow out of the box.
The one thing that Smurfs Kart does better than Mario Kart is that each racer has a unique ability. This mechanic encourages you to try different Smurfs to see which fits you the best. That’s the only difference between each character; the racing feels the same, regardless of who you pick.