Super Lucky’s Tale – Always Landing On Tails

Glada blad daneeashe blap blurp dawesome! Oh excuse me I’ve become an NPC inside a book and this is how I talk now, but I can still write in English I guess. That’s right I’m inside the Book of Ages and there’s a bunch of whimsical worlds here. Coins and platforms hover in the air and there are no rules at all. Oh except, you can’t rotate the camera too much. Small details. You also die if you hit something three times, but there’s plenty of lives to go around. I’m going to tell you all about a Fox who’s come to save us all, his name is Lucky. You see, this book is being threatened by the evil Jinx and the pages are being overrun by Kitty Litter. The who and the what now? Well, all you need to know is the fox’s name is Lucky and this is Super Lucky’s Tale.

Lucky can jump, attack with his tail, double jump, dig through the ground, and get stuck in things. That’s about it, but it’s all you really need to go platforming. This game… err sorry, “book” is broken up into 5 differently themed worlds, with a variety of levels in each. Even from the start it mixes things up quickly, as you’ll go from a 3D level to a 2D one, then some quick statue puzzles in the overworld, some coin collecting, exploring. There’s quite a lot to do but each level is short enough to tackle at your own pace. I found the relaxed structure of the game to be very welcoming after killing my brain in Mario Maker. The gameplay itself is the main draw but I was also pleasantly surprised to see a cast of interesting characters. Nothing too deep and the dialogue is quite short, but some curious designs and funny writing make it charming. I learned that I have two nubs, and any game with grub pudding has my attention. Nom nom nom.

Technically this game is not very polished with some issues with hit detection, a choppy framerate and the odd lag with the controls. I managed to get stuck in objects 4 times, twice I was ejected from the floor by hitting an enemy thankfully, once I just died, and once I just got stuck behind a present and had to reset. Oops. Luckily the levels are super short and it was more of an amusement than a bother. I honestly don’t mind a bit of jank if the game is still fun, which it is. Lucky moves around with excitement and the levels are fun to jump around in. I also enjoyed trying to jump out of bounds and skip sequences. It’s surprisingly easy to do in some places, as pretty much everything can be jumped on. Just don’t be too surprised when you push the limits and things go wrong.

Despite it’s obvious flaws the core gameplay is still fun. You’re mostly collecting coins, jumping around and solving puzzles. The difficulty never really goes beyond an easy stroll, with the occasional timed challenge offering a few retries to get right. I still died a fair bit even though it felt like an easy game, most of my deaths were either me being dumb or some issues with enemy hit-boxes and depth perception. Sometimes shadows for platforms and enemies will disappear, or simply not be there at all. I noticed if a bee hovered over spikes for example, the shadow is suddenly gone. Some coins had shadows, some didn’t. Nothing had shadows on rotating platforms, which is when you need them most. With the low height of your standard jump and relatively fast fall speed, it’s not something you can correct easily.

This game was originally released as Lucky’s Tale as a VR game on Oculus Rift, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s what caused the depth issues. VR would not have needed these little details like shadows to separate layers, and it doesn’t translate well back to a regular TV screen in every area.

Overall though the game is so accessible that these didn’t bother me too much, you just jump right back in and try again. The final world and boss provide some decent challenge and there’s always more collectibles and coins to get. The game throws coins at you like crazy, and there’s actually an infinite amount as they respawn in every level and hub world. The only real purpose is buying costumes for Lucky at the stalls, or you can throw your dignity away and grind 99,999 coins for a rare achievement to be the ultimate gamer. The game itself was over quite quickly for me as I beat it in probably 5 hours. There are two more DLC worlds which I haven’t tried. I feel like I got my fill for now with the main game, even though it was short it had good variety.

This game is coming to Nintendo Switch later this year as New Super Lucky’s Tale and I can see it being quite well-suited to the system. The graphics are not really pushing Xbox hardware as it stands, and it shouldn’t be a problem to create the same game on Switch like Cuphead. I guess it depends if the developers are up to the challenge, there’s a promising vid here by the devs that shows the game is actually getting an upgrade. It would be nice to see the load times improved, as entering and exiting levels can take quite long, maybe 20-30 seconds. Dying is just a few seconds load though so it’s not a huge bother. Another thing I would like to see is gyro controls for the marble rolling mini-stages. These were kinda fun but it felt wrong and awkward using an analog stick for small adjustments.

Overall Super Lucky’s Tale is a decent platformer with a few issues, but successfully creates its own world and aesthetic that is enjoyable to play and explore. On the surface it looks like another platforming knockoff but it does a good job creating it’s own identity with new characters. It’s quite an easy game but sometimes you need something like that, it would be the perfect kids game I think. The characters have charm, the music is decent, graphics aren’t technically outstanding but they are colourful and the art is surprisingly good. The character design of Lucky also grew on me, I thought it was quite a bland mascot at first, but he’s just always happy and it’s infectious. The whole vibe of this game captures that chill 90s platformer feeling and it’s just a good time. Now if you’ll excuse me I have tickets to see The Soggy Boggy Boys tonight. It’s gonna be hype.

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