Why I gave up on The Smurfs: Mission Vileaf

The moment I gave up on The Smurfs: Mission Vileaf.

Last Christmas, I purchased myself a Nintendo Switch, the first console I’ve owned in more than a decade. I’m a casual and incompetent gamer, so that seemed the best fit.

There are plenty of popular game types that I just don’t play, largely because I don’t enjoy them. I have atrocious hand-eye co-ordination, so first-person shooters are immediately out. Ditto fighting games (I can’t mash that many buttons) and open world RPGs (I just get bored). My tastes largely run to cartoon platformers, puzzle games and kart racers.

The first Switch game I acquired was Smurfs Kart, which was fairly new for Switch at the time. I got sucked in by the trailer, and it proved to be a solid choice.

It does suffer from a relative lack of tracks, but I enjoyed playing through it, and it didn’t emulate the creepy look given to the Smurfs in the more recent movies.

So after that smurfingly positive experience, I figured I’d give The Smurfs: Mission Vileaf a try. I knew that as a 3D platformer I would end up spending a lot of time swearing at the camera and not knowing which way I was looking. It’s aimed at kids, I thought. I’ll be OK.

Unlike Smurfs Kart, though, I didn’t enjoy Mission Vileaf much, and my progress was ridiculously slow. I alluded to this in a tweet last week:

I struggled on, but when the game introduced a flying/gliding mechanic for Brainy Smurf, I knew I was in real trouble. It took me something like an hour just to get through the first two training exercises for gliding – this is literally no more than 20 seconds of play time for anyone who knows what they’re doing. And then, not that long after finally struggling through that, I reached a point where I literally couldn’t work out what to do next.

This, of course, is what playthrough videos are for. So I dug one out on YouTube and identified what I was supposed to do next – launch myself off a plant bridge and glide towards a rocky outcrop, as you can see below (at the 1h13m mark).

Looks easy on the video, but I literally can’t do it. After dozens of attempts, I’ve always ended up in the water. I just can’t get the positioning or the sequencing of the buttons right.

Glancing through the walkthrough also makes it clear that things are only going to get harder from here. So I’m done. Gaming is meant to be fun, and repeatedly failing is just no fun.

Years ago, I wrote a piece for Lifehacker about how diving with sharks made me hate myself. The long-term lesson I took from that experience was that if you’re not enjoying a leisure activity, there’s no point punishing yourself by continuing it. So Mission Vileaf can get smurfed. In the absence of any good Switch Muppet titles, it’s time to hunt down another game to play. Thoughts welcome!

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