Platformers were ubiquitous during the ’80s and ’90s, so I could have picked from any of hundreds of titles for this installment of Old School Bargain Bin. I decided to focus on an early platformer based on a cartoon I didn’t care about and a sequel to one of the most beloved 8-bit video games of all time. Both are great games respective to their era.
When The Smurfs cartoon series, featuring the cutesy blue characters, debuted in 1981, I was 14 years old and a huge fan of The Super Friends and Thundarr the Barbarian. The show was clearly aimed at kids younger than me, so I didn’t give it much attention.
However, when Coleco debuted Smurf: Rescue in Gargamel’s Castle for the ColecoVision the next year, I rushed out and bought a copy. Not only did it have the most attractive graphics I had ever seen for any video game up until that point, the gameplay seemed intriguing. Instead of something babyish, like a matching game or some simplified maze title, it was a side- scrolling platformer with elements similar to Pitfall!, which of course is one of the best games for the Atari 2600.
In this colorful, musical, highly entertaining game, the evil Gargamel has captured Smurfette and trapped her in his lab. As Smurf, you must set out on a solo mission to rescue her. You’ll walk through fields and the woods, ducking under (or otherwise avoiding) hawks and hopping over bluffs, mounds, spiky grasses, and picket fences blocking your pathway. You score points with each obstacle you jump over, and the faster you finish each section of the country- side, the more bonus points you’ll get. Smurf grows fatigued as he goes, but entering a new area fully restores his energy indicator bar.
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