Super Lucky’s Tale caught me by surprise at E3 this year, I was thinking the same thing as everyone else when I saw that tail on the screen; “CONKER!” But no, we were being introduced to Microsoft’s new mascot for the Xbox, Lucky. This year has been great for platformers on both the Switch and PlayStation 4 with Mario Odyssey and Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy. It’s going to be a tough time for Lucky as he’s a new IP among gaming’s family favorites and has a lot to prove. Does Super Lucky’s Tale stand up to the rest? Will Microsoft have the mascot it so needs for the child-friendly market?
You might be looking at Super Lucky’s Tale and thinking “has Rare gone back to developing their award-winning platformers?” Surprisingly it’s nothing to do with Rare but you can see why people might be confused. Lucky represents everything from 90’s platforming games with a bright, colorful next-gen presentation to encourage both children and older gamers who grew up with the likes of Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie to join in.
Lucky is filled with all the classic hallmarks of 90’s platformers with visually beautiful worlds to explore, tokens to collect, various challenges to overcome and cartoony villains to defeat. While Lucky is a refreshing change of pace from all the shooters and blood-soaked mayhem we’ve seen recently, there are some issues. As much as Lucky captures all that was good of 90’s platformer, it also captures it’s biggest problems.
Players will embark on a journey with Lucky, a sweet-natured Fox who’s been trapped in a book along with some villainous felines. Within the book, Lucky must collect a series of four-leaf clovers in order to proceed with his adventure and defeat the evilest cat in the universe; Jinx. Everything here is simply reminiscent of what storytelling was like in the 90’s. There’s the big bad, the ultimate good and plenty of collectibles to grab. There’s no damsel in distress which is great but instead, we get Lucky’s sister who in my opinion would’ve been a better lead and focus of the story. Lucky’s sister is an awesome adventure who travels the world, fighting evil and kicks ass. Here, we get her younger brother who just gets sucked into the book. Why couldn’t we play as her? She has personality while Lucky would be replaced with playable Tofu and you wouldn’t know.
In Lucky’s quest, you must obtain a series of four-leaf clovers in order to unlock various doors that allow you to progress, collect more clovers to fight one of the bosses in the game. Each world has its own unique visual style which is very colorful and uplifting if not a little bland. The main issue here is that we’ve seen these worlds done so many times before and this rarely introduces something that could be considered new and inventive. Instead, it borrows from other games without placing anything unique overall. It’s pretty, sounds great and in terms of level, it’s actually great fun. With altering terrains, hidden collectibles and a good sense of exploration that rewards keen adventures and those willing to explore very highly.
What saves Lucky from being a run of the mill platformer are the creative aspects of many of the levels themselves. Super Lucky’s Tale is confident in bringing level variation that includes your standard platforming, Side-scrolling levels, levels focused on running and collecting, levels that has an intense amount of frantic platforming and much more. There are even neat side quests with lateral elements that reward more clovers upon completion. The marble maze and chess style puzzle quests were a highlight in the roaster of missions.
There’s plenty to like about this game and I would say it’s highly engaging no matter your age. However, for people like me who remember 90’s platforming, there are a couple of issues which are present here such as the terrible camera and awkward controls. I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to not implement a camera that rotates freely in a 3D platformer as it becomes an issue very quickly. Many segments of the environment require you to view as much as possible in order to save yourself that hassle of miss-judging jumps. You could be traversing a walkway with a series of jumps and as you can’t rotate the camera well enough; the depth perception will be unbalanced.
This is only made worse by the clunky, tank-like controls. This reminded me of the awful controls of Conker’s Bad Fur Day, but that game is excused due to the limitations of the console it was on. These issues in a platforming game are unforgivable and can ruin the flow if you have to keep replaying certain areas which require perfect timing and precise jumping.
While Super Lucky’s Tale may not live up to that of Super Mario Odyssey, it’s still an enjoyable platformer. It’s sadly held back by its technical limitations of a forced camera and clunky controls which should be refined for a platforming game. I would like to see Lucky’s universe expanded upon and hope a more refined sequel comes out soon.
I will say that Lucky is far superior to that of Bubsy.
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