Smurfy apps for the iPhone
Come on, just admit it — if you are a child of the 1980s, you spent some time being entertained by the exploits of the Smurfs.
You can relive those fun days with Smurf’s Village, an iPhone app that’s free and allows the player to relive those days of fun when the slightly-socialist Smurfs ran loose in their idyllic world, avoided the bumbling Gargamel (not a hard task), used the term “smurf” as much as possible and generally went about doing good. This Capcom release is a bit unusual in that it makes very good use of the Smurfs license — how often have we suffered through games based on pop culture icons that were absolutely terrible?
That’s not the case here, folks. This is one of those city-building simulations that have been popular since Sim City appeared for the PC back in 1989. Your task is to build housing for your Smurfs, manage resources in an attempt to grow your community and gain cash (which is mostly earned through farming) and complete quests.
The quests involve everything from sending Smurfs into the forest to keep an eye on Azrael (Gargamel’s scheming cat) to planting tall grass to conceal your village. You’ll be called on to plant certain kinds of crops, plant flowers, find lost smurfs, etc. As luck would have it, all of our favorite smurfs show up from time to time — Papa Smurf, Handy Smurf, Smurfette, Brainy and the rest of the gang are all here.
In addition to managing resources and building your village, there are plenty of mini games to keep you busy. Some of those range from dead easy (Handy’s hammering game) to confusing (Papa Smurf’s potion mixing game) and are always good for a few experience points and, quite often, cash. Money, by the way, is needed to expand the village and you’ll need a lot of smurfs around to put up buildings, farm and complete quests. It’s worth mentioning that the “character” smurfs generally have a specific function to help you along the way. Jokey, for example, will give you a present once a day that will either turn into something that will give you experience points or blow up in your face. Brainy is around to do no work at all, but to let you know useful things such as when it is necessary to expand your farming operations.
One drawback to this game is that Capcom wants you to buy Smurfberries to complete certain tasks quicker. For example, 30 Smurfberries are required to build Smurfette’s home so that she’ll come and live in the village. Any fan will want Smurfette in the village because she’s one of the more popular characters from the show. While most of these games give you the option of earning such specialized currency for free by downloading and installing new apps or completing other tasks, you’ll need cash money to get a lot of Smurfberries. Sure, you get one berry every time you advance a level, but you earn those slowly.
Here’s the problem, then, with Smurf’s Village — a lot of kids will want to play this game and it is very easy for them to purchase Smurfberries through the in-app purchase feature. In-app purchases are turned on by default, so a parent who doesn’t want a kid to run up a credit card bill by buying Smurfberries might want to turn off that feature. How do you do it?
Click your “Settings” icon on your iPhone, iPad or iPod. From there, select “general,” then “restrictions” and then “allowed content (in-app purchases).” Turn those purchases “off” and junior won’t be able to buy a lot of Smurfberries through the game. Bear in mind, however, that you’ll have to turn those back on should you want to make any in-app purchases on any application.
Having said that, Smurf’s Village is a relaxing, enjoyable game with very detailed graphics and great atmospheric sounds (birds chirping and that sort of thing). It’s as annoyingly cute as the cartoon and that’s not a bad thing. It’s free to download and play, so long as you avoid buying Smurfberries. Want a copy? Just click here to get it.
If you like the idea of s city-building simulation but Smurf’s Village isn’t overly appealing to you, have a look at Trade Nations. That little gem of a game, set in medieval times, is another requiring the player to manage resources and build a society. However, it stands apart from others out there in at least two ways — villagers take on jobs and there’s a compelling social aspect to it.
Yes, you’ll start off growing crops, harvesting wood, growing sheep and mining rocks to get some raw materials together. After a time, shops are built that turn those raw materials into finished products such as lumber, cut stone and cloth. Raw and refined materials are needed to build houses and other buildings and shops are built to turn goods into carved products, beer and ale and other items. There’s a marketplace where surplus items can be sold.
As the village expands, more villagers are needed to harvest, dig, make cloth, etc. Also, the social aspect here is pretty cool — build up a network of other players (called neighbors) and commence trading with them. You order a load of lumber from one neighbor, while another one orders a batch of mead from you. Those trades are essential as they bring you money and experience points. Experience points, of course, build up levels and each level brings on new challenges and tasks to perform.
Keeping an eye on that micro-economy will take up a surprising amount of time, as will trading with neighbors and gaining levels so you can build things such a castle and a circus. Like Smurf’s Village, you can enhance your village and achieve tasks quicker by spending magic beans, but you can get a lot of those for free by simply leveling and downloading other iPhone apps. If you don’t want to do all that downloading, you can purchase magic beans directly through the game, but it’s nice to have the option.
The same warning applies to Trade Nations — turn off the ability to make in-app purchases if you don’t want your kids running up that credit card.
The detailed graphics, relaxed pace and charm of this free title makes it a must-have for sims such as this one. Grab your copy by clicking here.
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.