The Smurf Adventure (1982)   13 comments

I’m going to start with some history background which may seem like overkill for an anonymous public domain TRS-80 game, but I already wrote it a while back, so–

From the episode Smurf Me No Flowers. Papa Smurf on the left (who appears in today’s game), Brainy Smurf on the right (who does not, unless he is supposed to be the player character).

After the Nazis occupied France in May 1940, they wanted to keep the film industry going there with the German-controlled Continental Films, founded only six months after the occupation. The managing director, Alfred Greven, was appointed by his personal friend Goebbels.

At this time, the young Belgian Pierre Culliford, aka “Peyo”, was working as a projectionist in Brussels; while he had a love for Robin Hood and fantasy movies, he had to show mostly propaganda films.

It was in this environment we got Les visiteurs du soir (see picture above), a 1942 film by Marcel Carné, set in 1485, about two envoys sent to the mortal world to cause mischief and recruit for the Devil. The envoys (semi-accidentally) start doing some good works, and the Devil needs to visit in person to fix things. While the production design was heavily influenced by Les très riches heures du Duc de Berry, a rather famous manuscript from the 1400s, the story itself was steeped deeply in fantasy, and Peyo watched it repeatedly. (As critics have later pointed out, the movie also could be viewed as a thinly veiled allegory for the Nazis invading France; while the director insisted it was not intended as such, the important thing is that the film managed to escape the censors.)

When the occupation of both France and Belgium ended, Peyo went from projecting to a short stint at a company called Companie Belge d’Actualités, owned by a journalist (Nagant) who originally aspired to make newsreels. Because of the occupation they had switched to animation instead. Peyo saw the designs for a film called Le Cadeau à la fée (The gift of the fairy) which included elves wearing flowers (this will be important for the story later).

Peyo went on to work in newspaper comics, before eventually landing a job at the magazine Spirou. This is where he made the fantasy comic “Johan et Pirlouit”, keeping in mind his previous inspiration by cinema. It centers around Johan, a servant to a King in a castle, and Peewit, a dwarf hired as a court jester.

For The Smurfs (“Les Schtroumpfs”) they were introduced during a Johan et Pirlouit comic entitled La Flûte à Six Trous about a flute that causes people to dance uncontrollably. The flute is stolen and Johan and Peewit end up seeking the creators of the flute.

Now, the origin of the Smurfs was due to Peyo needing a creator for the flute, perhaps a witch or sorcerer? Keeping in mind the film he saw at the CBA, he settled on “little creatures” that live at night but we rarely see, aka elves or leprechauns. The blue came from his wife (Janine “Nine” Culliford), who was his colorist. They were constantly hiding in leaves so couldn’t be green, red was too visible, and yellow and brown … they were trying to avoid the Smurfs looking like unfortunate stereotypes. Hence, by process of elimination: blue.

As far as the name goes, according to Peyo himself, it came from a slip of the tongue while eating at vacation. He asked for salt (“le sel”)

Passe-moi le sel!

but accidentally asked for “le schtroumpf” instead

Passe-moi le schtroumpf!

(When later translated to Dutch this became “Smurf”, which was re-used in English and elsewhere.)

While Peyo originally thought it was a “momentary craze for secondary characters”, Les Schtroumpfs were quite popular and merited re-appearances and their own spin-off, followed by a series of TV shorts in the 1960s later assembled into a film (Les Aventures des Schtroumpfs). Hanna-Barbara came in fairly late, as the entrepreneur Stuart R. Ross spotted Les Schtroumpfs in 1976 when traveling in Belgium and secured the rights, leading to the launch on American TV in 1981. Peyo (and the former editor-in-chief of Spirou, Yvan Delporte) were involved with overseeing the scripts. (Johan and Peewit do still show up, but now as side characters.)

Contrary to the small, often evil characters in popular legends, such as gnomes and trolls, I wanted mine to be reassuring and kind. The Smurfs aren’t really heroes. They form a community in which it is nice to live. Each one works for his pleasure. They practice the principles of equality, liberty, and fraternity.

Gargamel and Azreal, forever trying to capture the Smurfs, from the episode The Last Smurfberry.

So. Back to the public domain TRS-80 game. It, rather unusually for this time, declares itself public domain in the source code:

1 ‘ 06:15 *** PUBLIC DOMAIN *** 21 DEC 82
4 CLEAR200

This indicates this game probably is not reproduced from some magazine I haven’t found (although I did do a search) but rather is someone’s random project that just happened to get saved for posterity.

We’ve had a shortage of this kind of game; it really is interesting to see what differences there are (if any) if someone is writing a game just to write a game, not intended for commercial publication.

For one thing, it is short by 1982’s standards. Now, given we had Space Gorn and The Room both show on a disk magazine, that doesn’t disqualify it, but also, quite oddly, there are some places and characters that are present just for atmosphere. This is another circumstance where a game with the general plot structure wouldn’t feel out of place in a modern collection, but does come off as strange in 1982; I get the impression perhaps the author meant to continue (7278 bytes only, so there’d be room on a regular TRS-80) but just decided since the game was a personal whim to stop where they liked.

You start with no concept of what you’re meant to do, but heading north into Papa Smurf’s Hut reveals that Papa Smurf has been magically put to sleep.


The powder is of course just sitting there in the room, so this is solely a quest for two ingredients. The smurfberry plants are out in the forest in a very tiny maze (see map a little earlier) and the unknown ingredient is a lizard toe that you can find at the back room of Gargamel’s Castle.

All you need to do is then drop all three ingredients at Papa Smurf (the game will assume you mean in the KETTLE that’s there) and you can win the game.

That’s not quite everything in the game; you can visit Handy and Lazy and Smurfette. There’s no particular reason to do so other than to perhaps feel the inherent Smurfiness of the environment.

Also, you can have an actual run-in with Gargamel. You can find a key elsewhere that will unlock the front door of his castle (which is only a few steps from Smurf Village, no wonder he goes berzerk) and find yourself Smurf-food upon entering.

To emphasize, you technically solve a puzzle (however small) in order to reach an instant death room that is purely there because it is there in the cartoon! The sheer oddity of this (and the fact you’re only hunting two ingredients that are almost literally in the open) really does make the gameplay insubstantial, but I’d still like to imagine this game being someone’s winter whim one day to re-create the world they saw on television to be able to enter it, even if only for a little while.

From some of the surviving footage of the 1965 version of the Smurfs.

Posted September 6, 2022 by Jason Dyer in Interactive Fiction, Video Games

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13 responses to “The Smurf Adventure (1982)

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  1. I have somehow gone 34 years in life without ever seeing any Smurfs cartoons that I can recall. So I don’t really know much about them except “they’re blue cartoon elves that originally spoke French.” I didn’t even realize they’re Belgian, though that’s hardly surprising given Belgium’s immense contributions to comics as an art form.

    “They practice the principles of equality, liberty, and fraternity.”

    Now I want to see a tastefully risqué, blue-skinned painting of La Liberté guidant les Schtroumpfs in the style of Eugene Delacroix. ;)

  2. “They practice the principles of equality, liberty, and fraternity.”

    I guess that’s why they wear the caps they wear.

  3. @Ross

    I remember seeing a Tintin scarf produced to commemorate the Belgian Liberation of 1944. It was in French, Dutch, and English, but this was years before any official English translations were published. So Tintin et Milou, later known in English as Tintin and Snowy, were dubbed “Tufty and Bobby” (presumably taking a cue from the Dutch “Kuifje en Bobbie” – where “Kuifje” means “Quiffy”, referring to Tintin’s trademark tuft of hair).

  4. Where could I download “smurf adventure”? I’ve searched a lot for TRS-80 games, but no luck so far…

  5. Pingback: Argonath Adventure / The Lazurite Factor / Memory Alpha (1982) | Renga in Blue

  6. Pingback: Operation: Sabotage (1982) | Renga in Blue

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