The Smurfs and other Difficult Infogrames games - retro special

The Smurfs and other Difficult Infogrames games - retro special

Some of you may remember: In the old days, when you were still in your infancy with the Internet, choosing your next video game was like roulette. It was a risk! The retro review this time is not dedicated to a dedicated game, but to a series of titles - hence the more personal coloring. So let's go back one more time, in front of the shelves in the Kaufhof branch where I invested my pocket money as a child. Back then I didn't just care who wrote a game, I didn't even know that Mario games came from Nintendo and other titles from other manufacturers.

Table of Contents

1 Evil Adult 2 A Complicated Story 3 Candidate 1: The Smurfs 4 Candidate 2: Asterix 5 Candidate 3: Lucky Luke 6 Candidate 4: Tim in Tibet 70 marks was a big investment, so I took a lot of time to choose. After carefully studying the display, I decided which game I would give a new home to this time: Tim in Tibet!

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Evil Growing Up

The Smurfs and Other Smurfs Difficult Infogrames Games - Retro Special (3) Source: Infogrames Spoiler: I regretted the choice. As a child I assumed that there weren't any bad games and that when in doubt I was just incapable, but Tim in Tibet frustrated me immensely. The game is a side view of a platformer that tells the story of one of my favorite Tintin adventures. Everything about Tim in Tibet was too much for me. The gigantic hitbox of my character, the unclear path finding in the hotel, the merciless, automatically scrolling section in the river. I have never seen much more from Tim in Tibet. And there were other such games in my collection: Asterix and Obelix, Lucky Luke and The Smurfs. All of these games have something in common: They are based on successful Franco-Belgian comic book templates and were developed and produced by Infogrames.

On the way to Gurgelhals, uh, Gargamel, the Muscle Smurf traverses the whole forest, explores caves and climbs mountain peaks . Source: PC Games I got the idea that all these games were done by the same team after Tim in Tibet. That wasn't a great feat, after all, their logo was prominently emblazoned on all of the games mentioned. Because of my love for the comics, I chose these but couldn't finish any of them. So it was clear: In the future, I would avoid games from "Infogames" (that's how I thought the manufacturer was called) like the devil would avoid holy water. A little later I discovered the Capcom games for myself anyway, which were much more appealing to me and which also featured comic characters in the lead roles: Darkwing Duck, for example, Duck Tales or Chip and Chap. Fortunately, around 25 years later, I have almost worked through my frustration with Tim in Tibet. And I asked myself: Who were or are Infogrames exactly, how did the many comic games come about - and do I have more fun with them now?

A complicated story

The Smurfs and other difficult Infogrames games - retro-special (4) Source: Infogrames Before I go back to the frustrating games of my childhood a quarter of a century later, here is an overview of the complicated history of Infogrames: The company was founded in 1983 in Lyon. The company name is a hybrid of the French terms informatique and program (short: IT program) - so it has nothing to do with "games". The armadillo in the logo should represent resilience. And that has actually been true to this day, because Infogrames still exists, only under a different name: Atari SA. But first things first!

In the mid-80s, Infogrames initially published simple educational games and exported them to the USA and Japan. Soon one can afford various large, European licenses, for example Asterix or Tintin. Everything is going fabulous so far: At the beginning of the 1990s, Infogrames earned a good reputation, and in 1992 the company received international attention with the release of Alone in the Dark.

Gurgelhals? No wonder Gargamel has had his name changed in the meantime. Watch out: the way to rescue is long and smurf! Source: PC Games In the following years, Infogrames expanded, relocated the headquarters to Paris, bought new studios and secured shares in other companies. To enumerate each of the steps would go beyond the scope, in the course of the restructuring, the manufacturer and publisher is developing into one of the largest in Europe. Purchased studios are renamed, for example Infogrames North America (previously Accolade). In 2000, Infogrames bought its partner company Infogrames North America and incorporated it. But it gets even more complicated: In the early 2000s, Infogrames (for the sake of simplicity we continue to refer to the company with the original name) began using Atari as a brand name - the right to do so was bought from Hasbro.

One falls into Asterix not always in bottomless holes, sometimes you can also find extra areas in which to collect stars. Why stars? Why not. Source: PC Games In the following years, the Infogrames studios around the world were given new Atari names. A few studio closings, name changes and deals later, in 2009, Infogrames officially becomes Atari SA. Unpleasant news in 2013: The company files for bankruptcy in the United States. In the course of this, many brands are sold that the French once bought. And now, in the present, Atari SA is planning to earn money with video game hotels and at the end of 2020 brought the crowdfunded Atari VCS to supporters.

So far, so confused, but one thing is certain: with The Infogrames from the Game Boy era, which was rooted in Europe and focused on European licenses, the company doesn't have much to do today, and by buying and selling dozens of studios and brands, Infogrames / Atari games are just as good like no longer a recognition value. How the company will continue remains to be seen, but true to the armadillo model, Infogrames (also under a new name) will probably continue to live for a long time.

And now it's time for the experiment - were my Infogrames games really as frustrating as I remember it? Will I stand up to Tim in Tibet? This is followed by the first-hand test.

Candidate 1: The Smurfs

River cruise levels seemed to be popular with Infogrames developers. Shown here: the smurf stream, muscle smurf right in the middle. Source: PC Games The Smurfs look nice, really well aged, you have to admit that to the game. Incidentally, a plus point with all the Infogrames Game Boy titles that I brought to mind again, with the exception of Asterix. But let's stay with the blue goblins: The story is explained in two still images, Gargamel, then still known as Gurgelhals, has kidnapped Smurfette, Schlaubi and the surprise Smurf (why you want him back is not entirely clear). Muscle Smurf is obviously the right person for the rescue mission and sets out, first through the forest, then through the Smurfette, and so on, to find the missing members of the community. The Smurfs is certainly not a milestone in terms of the history of jumping games, but the inputs are relatively precise (if you turn a blind eye) and it not only looks pretty, but also sounds good.

With only two passwords for that the whole game, however, the frustration is inevitable. Huh, password? Right, at that time it was not common that you could save freely or that the progress was saved after each level. Only after reaching certain points in the game was given the gamer a password, after which one could continue at the said point. As a child, I never reached the savespots. Overall, I am positively surprised by the graphics, the lively music and the varied levels, I had poor memories of the game. Nevertheless, today it is only worthwhile as a retro or Smurf fan who is extremely susceptible to suffering, to sneak in again. The genre is so much broader now.

Candidate 2: Asterix

The puny character, the small blocks - that is really reminiscent of Super Mario Land on the Game Boy. But is Asterix for the Game Boy. Source: PC Games I had two Asterix games for the Game Boy, I'll limit myself to the older of the two here. The other one, Asterix & Obelix, also from Infogrames, really frustrated me - does anyone remember the Tower of Londinium? To this day I don't know how to solve the level. Well, Asterix. You can tell immediately that the title is older than The Smurfs. Instead of a camera close to the action, so that the whole charm of the pixel figures comes into its own, one looks at a narrow Gaul from afar - strikingly reminiscent of Super Mario Land. There are also playful similarities, with a courageous hook Asterix can destroy the blocks that are scattered everywhere, in which there are stars and health. All in all, Asterix is ​​an annoying jumping game with a below-average look and a few nice details that match the template.

If Asterix kills a wild boar, for example, a roast is left behind, the blonde hero gains invincibility through the magic potion. However, the collision query and the design of some areas are absolutely annoying: Holes in the floor are sometimes not recognizable as such, and even if you spot them, you can still fall to your death in a certain area to the right or left of them. And what are these thorn-covered floors, through which Asterix inevitably takes damage if he missed the magic potion or if the effect wears off too soon? Thank God I found an invulnerability cheat code, otherwise I would have thrown in the towel before the end of the first level. With Teutates, it's frustrating and unsightly, not even the music knows how to please!

Candidate 3: Lucky Luke

The best of all four games I like today compared to Lucky Luke. Yes, it's frustrating, but also more complex and varied than the rest. Source: PC Games Lucky Luke on the Game Boy first makes a good impression: The look is nice, the now no longer smoking hero has to be the most famous criminals of the series (i.e. the Dalton, Billy the Kid, and so on) back to jail. Unlike the rest of the games discussed here, Lucky Luke has a more complex arsenal of action: he can lay dynamite, shoot his revolver, pull himself up on edges and swing on ropes. When the ammunition is empty, the cowboy defends himself with his fists.

I'm also pleasantly surprised on the further journey through the Wild West: The shooting provides variety, you can explore hidden areas, the carriage ride right inside The second level is fun, despite the trial & error moments, but they are common in games from this time. The animations are also impressive, the galloping horses, for example, capture the comic look well - it was certainly not an easy undertaking! I wouldn't recommend Lucky Luke to anyone today who isn't an absolute fan, but I feel much less frustrated here than in Asterix. I feel good!

Candidate 4: Tim in Tibet

Then the disaster took its course: When I saw this moment at the beginning of the game for the first time, I didn't know yet what to expect. Source: PC Games I thought I had dealt with the trauma, but as soon as I hear the first notes of the title melody, the anger rises in me, I immediately don't feel like it anymore - but what can you not do for the N-ZONE ? Let's save my missing friend Tschang. First of all, this means: In one of the lameest and most stupid levels of all time, I walk along a train from which travelers throw their suitcases. Whyever. Again there is a box that I can pick up. To this day I don't know what to do with it. The steam from the locomotive hurts me, maybe I should put the box down so that I can jump over the hot smoke, but due to the imprecise control I will probably never find out. I don't want to hate Tim in Tibet, it captured the charm of the original quite visually.

I don't just want to complain: The look of Tim in Tibet is not that bad, the characters are very reminiscent of them The template and the story are fine. Source: PC Games And the music in the rapids is almost a catchy tune! But only a short time later I just want to end my and Tim's suffering when I am killed again in the hotel by a waiter walking past. To understand the collision query, one must be able to taste colors and smell music. In any case, I haven't made it any further than 25 years ago. At least without help - thanks to the password system, I dare to take a look at the rest of the adventure, or at the two levels that can be reached this way. In the first one, I am greeted by a stone that rolled over me out of nowhere. There is a good mood! Then I read something about yaks and grass and I fall to death again.

In the other level I am sitting in a boring cave, am run over by another stone and then fall into nowhere. I'll conclude: I can live with never seeing the end of the game. And I feel confirmed in my dislike - the great template, especially the band Tim in Tibet, deserves better than this confused, frustrating game. If I try again in 25 years, I will definitely not get any further. The painful experiment is now over - but now I am interested in your experiences and reports of suffering (or hymns of praise, maybe you see the games differently)! Have you owned and even played through other Infogrames games from this time? Write to me, I'm going to let off steam first by devoting my time to more fun activities than Tim in Tibet.

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