Tuesday, December 7, 2010
A Closer Look at Smurf’s Village app for the iPhone and iPad
This article is still great, but the NEWLY REVISED Poor Smurfer's Almanac for 2012 just hit with all new information about the Dreamy Smurf update, all new crops and more! Check it out today!
I know what you are saying: “Stan, you have to be smurfing me here! Are you smurfing serious?” Yes. I’m not smurfing your leg. Trust me, I never would have imagined that this would be something I would ever pay attention to, much less devote my precious time, and yours, to. (watch that preposition dangle!) But two weeks ago, a friend of mine on that devilish social networking timesuck posted that there was a Smurfs app for the iPhone and better yet, it was a game. Now, I am a child of the 80’s, two things are very dear to me: Pee Wee Herman, and the Smurfs. I will always love both with a bizarre and clinical unconditional love that can really only be understood by twins and those who have climbed Mt. Everest. So when you tell me there is a Smurf game for my phone (which, let’s be honest isn’t really a phone anymore), you have to know I’m going to give it a look.
The Smurf’s Village app, for all intents and purposes, is basically a pretty skin for the already epidemic Farmville or Frontiersville or Petsville or any of those other horrid social networking games developed by Zynga. Well, almost. There are some important differences and I’ll get to those in a minute. But first let me tell you how asinine I find those social games like Farmville. Perhaps the most obnoxious thing since spam emails, these social network “games” are thinly disguised marketing tools used to monitor network activity and promote online interaction to increase the potential to exploit the bottomless resource that is the internet. Games like Farmville seem to be built not around playing a game that is fun, but in asking your friends for supplies and otherwise cluttering the pages of everyone you know with insightful messages like “Stan, I need 4 nails to finish my fence,” or “Pam just stole a pig from your pen, click here to see what else is going on in Farmville.” And you get these wonderful missives regardless of whether you partake in the madness or not. I do not. Worst of all, Farmville, and its cohorts, entice you to spend REAL MONEY, not video game money, rupees or gil, but REAL MONEY to buy things to speed up the progress of your farm. And most of the things you spend your REAL MONEY on can be acquired by playing the game, it just takes more time. So, much like the real Capitalist system, if you don’t want to earn your achievements, you can just buy them. I pretty much hate everything about these kinds of games.
So how? How can I advocate Smurf’s Village? My defense is shoddy and rests mainly on the phrase, “but dude, they are smurfs.” However, I will tell you why I am sinking hours of valuable game time that could be going toward Kirby’s Epic Yarn or EA NFL Training Camp into this stupid little app, and I’ll try to make it sound convincing.
First of all, Smurf’s Village differs from its extremely obnoxious cousins in some very important ways. Most importantly amongst these ways is that the game play is much more passive than something like Farmville. There are no pushy messages from friends (even though the game is linked through facebook to your network) to give them things or to harvest their crops. You can give gifts to your friends, but no one ever contacts you, and if you never connect to the social network, no big deal, the game plays on. So, right off the bat, SV is not as self-effacing as its predecessors.
Second, the game is simple and fun. If you are not familiar with these kinds of games, they are basically micro-management games reminiscent of SimCity, Roller Coaster Tycoon, or the Sims. The premise is minimal: Gargamel found the Smurf village and destroyed it, scattering smurfs far and wide (and apparently spawning multiple clones of distinctive smurfs like Papa, Hefty and Smurfette, since each new village has one…). Your job is to rebuild a new smurf village and make it flourish so that the smurfs will have a new haven to call home. This reclamation project requires you to build mushroom houses for the smurfs and then put them to work farming in order to generate more revenue to keep the revitalization going. Apparently, Papa Smurf is able to sell the produce generated by the farming to an undisclosed outside buyer who will in turn give the smurfs money (not REAL MONEY, let’s get that straight) with which they can buy building supplies, tufts of grass, and moss covered rocks. Why you have to buy such things is really beyond me. But those are the tools you use to beautify and enhance your new smurf village. As you progress in the game, you will gain access to more and more décor items like colored fences, flower patches, and even different kinds of mushroom houses. The game goes on like this at least up the level 25, the last level in which it is indicated that you can unlock new items. If you like micro-management games (and I tend to) and the Smurfs (see above), then this game is a fun little diversion.
Honestly, though, the game is fun. It is fun running the little smurfs around, having them farm and build fences, growing the village and adding new décor elements. It is fun, plain and simple. I like micro-management games and this one manages to find a soft, nostalgic spot in my heart. The game is limited in several important ways, however and I am hopeful that since this is fluid software those issues will be addressed. Most pressing is the fact that the game is quite limited in scope at this time. As I stated before, the game stops giving you things to unlock after level 25. I’ve been playing for about a week and half at this point and I am already nearly level 17. If they do not release updates or expansions soon, my time with the game will be smurfed. There is also a lack of diversity in things to do. Once you have all of your smurfs busy farming and you’ve built everything you can build, there isn’t much else to do. Sure, there are mini-games to play like Papa Smurf’s Potion Mixing Game or Greedy Smurf’s Baking Challenge, but these are only available for credit (XP) once per day and the games only last about 45 seconds. The game simply needs other things for you and your smurfs to do. There are some plot (very loosely understood here) driven tasks to undertake (as in “grow some tomatoes to rid the village of skunk stench”), but the later you get in the game, the more scarce those become. It can become really easy to lose interest if there aren’t more things to do in the village as the game progresses. I guess I cannot complain too much, however the damn thing is free after all.
So if you are looking for something fun to waste some time with while you wait in line at the DMV or are on a long car trip, Smurfs Village can be a fun way to accomplish just that, but you’ll need to keep things in perspective lest you get seduced into blowing your hard earned cash on something as ephemeral as video game content.
The Poor Smurfer’s Almanac
How to get the best productivity out of your village
Planting Schedules and Yields:
Know your crops! By planting the right crops at the right time you can maximize your productivity. Planting certain crops will enable you to generate large sums of coinage or experience in shorter amounts of time. Not all crops are created equal and planting the wrong crops can several retard the growth of your village. The chart below details which crops give you the best yields respective to whether you are looking to harvest $ or XP.
Best Quick Growing Crops (grow time of 1 hour or less)
XP Yield $ Yield All Purpose
Cucumber (120) Blueberry (120) Blueberry
Blueberry (120) Raspberry (36) Raspberry
Currants (120*) Blackberry (12) Currants
Raspberry (96) Currants (10*) Blackberry
Blackberry (60) Strawberry (9) Cucumber
Strawberry (45) Cucumber (8) Strawberry
Best Mid-Level Crops (grow time of 2-6hours)
Brussels Sprouts (37.5XP $7.5)
Peas (25XP $5)
Carrots (16XP $3.6)
Tomato (13XP $2.6)
Best Long Term Crops (grow time of 9-24 hours)
XP Yield $ Yield All Purpose
Onion (14.5) Corn (15.4) Artichoke
Artichoke (13) Sarsaparilla (6.25*) Sarsaparilla*
Sarsaparilla (12.5*) Artichoke (2.6) Watermelon
Watermelon (10) Watermelon (2) Pumpkin
Pumpkin (10) Pumpkin (2) Corn
Potato (6.25) Potato (1.25) Onion
Corn (4.4) Onion (0.8) Potato
XP and $ amounts are calculated on average yield per hour. The amount of $ is calculated to reflect net profit (gross profit minus seed cost). (Example: Brussels Sprouts yield 75XP and $20 in 2 hours growth, hence they yield and average of 37.5 XP per hour and $7.5, $15 gross profit minus $5 seed cost)
*The amounts for Currants are averaged up to reflect 2 yields per hour even though they can only be harvested every 40 mins. This is for simplicity sake, adjust your planting accordingly.
*The amounts for Sarsaparilla are not reflective of their steep 1 Smurfberry seed cost. Since there is no in-game monetary equivalent for Smurfberries, there is no reasonable way to evaluate seed cost. You will have to decide the value of this cost and its overall effect on the profitability of planting this crop.
Plant smartly. A well organized farm can accumulate a great deal of coinage and XP every day. Depending on when you have time to play, figure out how to harvest the most crops in a day. If you have a routine sleeping pattern, plant crops just before you go to sleep that will be ready to harvest immediately upon your waking up. Maximize your grow time the same way for the rest of your day. Make your farm work for you when you cannot work it.
It is strongly recommended against planting Potatoes, Strawberries, and Tomatoes. These are the worst of the respective groups and will not accelerate your growth. Also, with a seed cost of 1 Smurfberry, Sarsaparilla is a poor investment unless you have REAL MONEY to burn.
If you have the time, Blueberries are VERY lucrative!
Once your village is up and running, start populating it with snails and caterpillars. Both generate a lot of XP daily if you check in on them. Smurfette is good in the same capacity, but snails and caterpillars are much better and you can have multiples of them. Plus, with a productive village you can add 2 snails or 1 caterpillar each day. This will help you advance in level much faster than with crops alone.
Later in the game, after you have built your village to your satisfaction and have nothing new to build, you can put your money to use buying XP by buying scenery and then deleting it. Sure, this is a bit unethical, but it can turn money you are not using into valuable XP.
Design your village smartly. You may want to consider dividing up your field into sections. One section should be devoted to generating XP and the other coins. Or simply design two separate fields and dedicate each to a task.
Unless you just have lots of REAL MONEY to burn, don’t waste Smurfberries on instantly growing crops or building houses. Save your Smurfberries for things like the special smurfs or rare items.
Farmer Smurf is very important. He can increase the yield on crops grown in fields that touch the perimeter of his house by 50%. This means that up to 8 fields can see significant yield increases due to his presence. He should be the first smurf you spend Smurfberries on. You can arrange it so that he influences a full 8 fields, if you stagger your fields correctly.
Build bridges as soon as possible. They greatly increase the size of your village and thus the arable land available.
Upgrade Smurf houses regularly to increase your population. There are limits to the number of houses you can have per level, so this will help grow your village and get around this limitation.
Thanks for taking a look and have a smurfy time giving these hapless smurfs a new home! Enjoy the smurf out of this fun little game!