Rescue In Gargamel's Castle

Smurf – Rescue In Gargamel’s Castle

My husband and I went to a cool retro gaming shop in Northeastern Ohio last year (we drove 4 hours to buy video games…there aren’t any good shops in our area for that kind of thing!), and upon seeing the wall of Atari and ColecoVision games, I may have shed a few tears (read: I cried…a lot). While I was happy to see so many wonderful games on the shelves, mostly I was flooded with emotion and remembering so many great times at my Grandparents’ house. Sadly, I began writing this the day after my Grandmother’s funeral – she had been battling vascular dementia for several years, and will finally be at peace. I am sure that was really driving the wave of emotion, as we knew it’d be soon, but it never makes it any easier.

As I was looking through the games, I spotted one I played a LOT when I was a kid – Smurf: Rescue In Gargamel’s Castle. I’ll be the first to admit this game doesn’t look like much. It’s really pretty simple to play, and there isn’t a ton of strategy or skill to it. Still, at 5 or 6 years old, getting to dodge bats, and birds is pretty cool. I grabbed it, even though we don’t own a ColecoVision system*, for the sheer nostalgia factor. We did have it on one of our Atari emulators, so I played that to satisfy my whim.

Rescue in Gargamel's Castle

Smurf: Rescue In Gargamel’s Castle is a single-player platformer developed in 1982 by Coleco for the ColecoVision and Atari 2600, and obviously based off of the cartoon series. This game is very simple – upon selecting your skill level, you are greeted with a little hut beside a path, and a perky little Smurf waiting for adventure. You are presented with obstacles along the way – fences, tall grass and small hills, stalagmites and creepy bats, and crazy-fast spiders – until you reach the inside of the castle, where Gargamel has your beloved Smurfette locked away. All this amazing action while faced with a time limit and cloyingly sweet music – my palms are sweating just thinking about it!

Rescue in Gargamel's Castle - Leve Three Opening

Rescue in Gargamel's Castle - Game Options Menu
There are a total of four skill levels per player setting – you can select a one-player game, or an alternating-turn two-player option. The levels grow increasingly frustrating as you adjust the skill setting – not because they’re terribly complex, but the game is very touchy when coming into contact with your foes:

* Level 1 – smaller obstacles, no flying creatures and is relatively easy to clear quickly; you get five lives.
* Level 2 – introduces flying birds, taller cliffs to jump, flying bats in the cave, and freaking spiders who are fast as…well, they’re pretty darn fast. Again, you’re allotted five lives, and the level isn’t difficult to clear LIES! The level, while it isn’t the most difficult, can still be challenging. If you can manage to clear the spiders, you have my respect.
* Level 3 – the distance between obstacles to jump is closer than previous levels, and I swear it feels like the birds and bats have a homing device planted in your little Smurf cap. (I can’t make it through the caves, I’ll be honest. (*shakes fist & mumbles* stupid bats!))
* Level 4 – the birds and bats come back for you, man! Even if you manage to duck out of the first attack, they come back! The energy bar seems to deplete faster, too. Five lives never seem enough. I have never managed to beat level four, so there’s that.

Rescue in Gargamel's Castle - Spiders

If you die repeatedly in the same spot, the layout will change a bit; it can be argued it makes it a little easier to clear, depending on whom you ask. Scoring is simple – each item you jump has a point value assigned to it on the screen, usually 200 or 300 points – the catch is landing precisely on the number! As if clearing the spikey stalagmites without impaling your little blue body isn’t hard enough, you have to stick your landing EXACTLY on the 200. Rescuing Smurfette yields a whopping 10,000 points! If you manage to make it through the scene quickly enough, you’ll be rewarded with bonus energy! Huzzah!

Rescue in Gargamel's Castle - Smurfette

Smurfs: Rescue In Gargamel’s Castle is pretty much an endless loop – once you’ve reached Smurfette, the game will revert back to the opening scene for you to start over, with a few minor tweaks. This game also features a couple easter eggs – one is rather infamous and involves Smurfette (accomplished by exiting and re-entering the final screen quickly and the white pixels on the top of her dress disappear (along with the whites of her eye…creepy!)), and the other is in the forest scene – supposedly flipping back and forth between two screens may reveal a set of initials and you may receive ‘hundreds of thousands of points’ according to the interwebz. I have not been able to replicate this – either on the emulated version or on the actual cartridge version, so I can’t attest to the legitimacy of the latter eggy goodness.

As you can see from the screen grabs – the game isn’t flashy, and gameplay is really basic. The game doesn’t have a huge following because of this – really, it’s not an amazing game – but I think the nostalgia factor wins out in making this game memorable for me.

*I am happy to report that this is no longer the case – Husband surprised me with one, which arrived in the mail as I began writing this! Oh how I love the ColecoVision!

Rescue in Gargamel's Castle - Colecovision

Have you played Smurfs: Rescue In Gargamel’s Castle? I’d love to know what you think of it!

[Via] Old Classic Retro Gaming

Speaking of things Smurfy. Do you recall the mystery of the Green Smurf?

The World Of Smurfs: A Celebration of Tiny Blue Proportions By Matt. Murray

Thanks to our friends over at ABRAMS books for sending a review copy of their upcoming new book The World of Smurfs: A Celebration of Tiny Blue Proportions! Which so happens to be excellently written by Matt. Murray, the world’s only known Smurfologist!

Murray was President and First Executive director of New York’s Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, working on an exhibit entitled “Saturday Morning”, which examined not only the art but political, and social aspects of the shows in the exhibit. While setting up the show he came to the realization what some of us writers and readers of the Retroist already know…once a Smurf fan…always a Smurf fan. But Murray took it on himself to try and figure out what made the Smurfs so popular across the world.

Murray warmly relates his own personal experiences with the Smurfs in the Introduction, such as his maternal Grandmother watching the show so that not only would the two of them have something to discuss during their talks over the telephone but that she might be able to understand what words he was ‘Smurfing’.

Murray goes into detail of famed Smurf creator Pierre Culliford or as he was more commonly known throughout the word, Peyo. Murray takes time to educate the reader on Peyo’s childhood and early adult life, when the artist was desperately seeking to sell his cartoon strips to magazines. At this time in his life some other famous creations of Peyo like Johan and Pirlouit (Johan and Peewit as we know them in the United States) came into existence.

Which would lead to the creation of the Les Schtroumpfs or as they would later be known in America, the Smurfs!

The World of Smurfs book of course chronicles the global popularity of not only Peyo but his family as well as obviously that of his blue elflike wonders…that were only 3 apples high. One of the features in the book that I cannot heap enough praise on is the reproductions of animation cells, movie posters, the Smurf Village poster and original Les Schtroumpfs ephemera. For the most part you can take these items out of the book…including a sheet of Smurf stickers…that I’m having to resist applying to my laptop as I type this!

Murray also dives into the Red scare that I vaguely recall in my youth, yep, some people complained that the Smurfs were secretly sowing the seeds of Socialist behavior in the animated series. How Smurfing sad.

Of course Murray goes in depth with the upcoming Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation big budget Smurfs film starring Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, and Hank Azaria. There is some really neat looking production art for the Smurf village that will be seen in the movie, I particularly loved the Smurf blacksmith shop design.

In closing, do I think you should pick up this book when it hits store shelves in August? Absolutely! If you still smile at the thought of playing with a handful of those wonderful blue PVC Smurf figures you will not only find all the history of the Smurfs fascinating but I bet you’ll want to share the book with your family and friends.

The World of Smurfs: A Celebration of Tiny Blue Proportions is U.S.$24.95/Can. $27.95