Smurfs Kart review (Switch)

Last year’s The Smurfs: Mission Vileaf was a very pleasant surprise when it launched, so when Microids announced they were revisiting the Smurfs IP with a kart racer we had good reason to be looking forward to the result. It’s a Switch exclusive, which is a daring choice with Mario Kart on the same platform, but Smurfs Kart is a pretty decent kart racer in its own right.

Between Sonic and Nickelodeon-themed racers, there are plenty of kart racing games out there that feature licensed characters, but we had some doubts about this one. After all, how many different Smurfs can you mention before they all start looking alike? We can get to about a handful and maybe close to ten if we tried really hard, and that’s having watched plenty of Smurfs cartoons in our younger years. And how many vehicles do you remember in those episodes? Okay, it’s not like Sonic or the Nick Jr. crew can regularly be seen driving around either, but we didn’t consider the Smurfs to be prime kart racing material.

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Yet, here it is, and it checks a lot of the right boxes. There’s a decent range of a dozen different characters to choose from, and most will be of the “oh yeah, I remember that one!”-variety. And while they’re all blue and only Papa Smurf and Smurfette look extremely distinct by themselves, the developers have done a good job making each Smurf feel unique thanks to their own vehicles and special abilities.

Looking beyond the roster, Smurf Kart also delivers with a decent selection of twelve different tracks to race on, which can be mirror to (sort) of double that number. It’s not Mario Kart levels of content by a long shot, but for a kid-friendly title it’s not an easy cash grab either. What’s more is that all twelve tracks feel distinct and well designed, complete with shortcuts to discover and other ways to gain an edge over other racers.

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As you’d expect with a kart racer of this type, there’s some rubber-banding to make sure you always have opponents to race against, but it’s never unfair and if there’s a big difference between players then the game will just split the pack of AI racers in two so you always have your own little pack to compete in. It may not be super realistic, but hey, it’s Smurfs on karts – it’s meant to be fun, and with solid controls, weapons and temporary upgrades the game delivers on that front.

The only thing that really holds back Smurfs Kart is there are more content-rich games out there that can be bought on sale or second hand for the same price. Looking at you, Mario Kart. But if you’re one of the millions of Switch users who already have that game, then this could be a nice alternative for you – especially if you have a fondness for the blue heroes that star in it.

Score: 7.1/10

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