Super Lucky’s Tale or Fail?
Super Lucky’s Tale, the sequel to the VR only Lucky’s tale is an Xbox One X Enhanced Microsoft exclusive (Also available on Windows) created by the imaginative folks over at Playful. I took the game for a spin on the Xbox one X however due to my soon to be rectified lack of a 4k display I was unable to enjoy the 4k Enhancements. Right now that little caveat is out of the way lets dive into our foxhole and get on with this review.
Super Lucky’s Tale is a 3D puzzle platform adventure title in which you take on the role of the titular Lucky, A young fox who dreams of becoming a great hero like his older sister Lyra. While returning from her latest adventure Lyra is pursued by the Kitty Litter and their villainous leader Jinx. Jinx and his dysfunctional family of kittens seek the Book of Ages recently procured by Lyra, during the ensuing confrontation the book of ages opens and sucks the Kitty Litter and Lyra into its pages, or at least it would have if Lucky hadn’t thrown his sister to safety taking her place inside the fabled book of ages.
From the offset Super Lucky’s Tale is visually charming, from the well-designed characters (Master Mittens being the stand out for me), some of my favourite in recent memory, to the varied and colourful landscapes you encounter during the course of the game, however graphically Super Lucky’s Tale isn’t going to blow you away with it’s texture mapping or light filtering but with a strong and consistent visual aesthetic, it’s pleasing to look at it firmly invokes a nostalgia for ‘a simpler time’ calling to mind such 3D platforming master classes such as Banjo Kazooie and Crash Bandicoot.
The game is bright, colourful and vibrant and a much welcome change to the majority of the drab brown and greys seen in current big budget titles, of course perhaps that’s because Super Lucky’s Tale isn’t a big AAA game, while being published by Microsoft this isn’t a big budget title, Playful are an indie developer not ashamed to create a game they can feel proud of heedless of the current trend for gritty mature content that in my opinion serves to limit the variety of games available especially on the Xbox One.
Exploring the world of Super Lucky’s Tale is achieved through what I’ll loosely describe as a ‘hub worlds’ but in reality, there’s little to do here other than boost your coin count and travel from level to level or in this instance through pages of the Book of Ages. Each hub world is populated by yet more charmingly designed characters my favourite being Veggie Village and it’s rustic worm folk (one level involves restoring power to their country music festival), the NPCs don’t add much to the gameplay but nevertheless are welcome addition as the ‘world map’ systems from title such as Mario always bugged me and came across as unimaginative.
A great deal of the charm found within Super Lucky’s Tale comes from it’s homage to older games of its type, and the same is to be said of the gameplay each world features puzzle sections that are clearly taken from classics of the past, be they level titling callbacks to Super Monkey Ball or side-scrolling 2D sections that even Shigeru Miyamoto would be proud of.
The overall gameplay is pretty much what you’d expect from 3D puzzle platformer, run, jump, defeat enemies with a tail swipe and a leap on the head and collect collect collect. Progressing in the game isn’t just a simple matter of clearing levels, the collectibles in Super Lucky’s Tale aren’t merely pointless additions to pad game content but are tied to your very progression. Lucky seeks 4 leaf clovers, why? Well, they are Lucky, it’s a tenuous idea for a collectible and no explanation is really given or needed for why it’s clovers we are after. Each level contains 4 Clovers and they are awarded for completing several different tasks; Clearing the level, collecting 300 coins, solving a puzzle and collecting all the letters of Lucky’s name that are hidden around the level. While you don’t need to have found all 4 to finish the stage ever-increasing amounts of clovers are needed to unlock the later stages of the game adding a new dimension of difficulty to the game, more on difficulty next.
As with most 3D platform games, they aren’t overly challenging affairs and for the most part, simply require pattern recognition and timing. Super Lucky’s Tale is no exception to this, however not too far into the game completing all 4 of the previously mentioned tasks isn’t as simple as the games ‘All Ages’ aesthetic would indicate, some levels requiring near perfect runs to hit the 300 coin goal meaning that on more occasions than an old gaming veteran such as myself would care to admit I found myself repeating levels more than once as a missed jump and subsequent plummet to Lucky’s untimely demise meant thatthe small penalty of coins left me below the magic number.
Further adding to the difficulty of the game was the rather unfortunately frustrating camera, the issues with Super Lucky’s Tale camera come in three forms. The first being many of the times the game forces the player to transition to the background of the level, this happens fairly often and Playful seem to have ignored the fact that the camera doesn’t compensate for this by zooming in or by even making the foreground remotely transparent resulting in many a missed jump as I couldn’t see where one ledge ended and the safety of the next platform began. The second is the very limited control you have over the camera in the 3D sections, you can pan the camera around 45 degrees to the left and right of Lucky but that does little to help one get a sense of their surroundings, you are also able to zoom in slightly into what is almost Lucky’s point of view but again the limits imposed on this make it virtually pointless. Even worse are the times control of the camera is completely taken away from you, a prime example is the Garlic Kings Maze (That’s as weird as it sounds but trust me, you’ll love him.) seen from an almost side of P.O.V I found myself waking blindly around corners only to be attacked by foes I’d no idea were there.
The most troubling thing about Super Lucky’s Tale is that I fear it won’t get the reception or chance it deserves through a combination of the current status quo of AAA Multiplayer gaming and the fact that while for me it was filled with nostalgic charm, it simply isn’t 1996 anymore. If Super Lucky’s tale had been an original Xbox launch title I’ve no doubt that he’d be right next to the Master Chief in terms of a system mascot adorning promotional materials to this very day but sadly Lucky has arrived now and I fear he may simply end up being another cute character forgotten by the mainstream.
So would I recommend you dash out to help Lucky on his heroic quest and pick this game up? You bet your clovers I would! Super Lucky’s Tale is pure charm from start to finish, the camera issue can be frustrating but the incredible character designs, witty banter from NPC’s and simple gameplay make up for it in what amounts to being a solid puzzle platformer that the whole family can enjoy, not to mention that it retails at an R.R.P of £19.99 so it’s a bargain to boot.