I skipped the era of 3D platformer the ruled in the mid-90s. Even in today’s resurgence of the genre, I have no nostalgic attachment to them. While I enjoyed the few hours I had my hands on Super Mario Odyssey, I did not immediately rush out to buy the game. These are important points because the review I am about to share with you draws very heavily on that nostalgia factor. Could it win me over? This is our review of Super Lucky’s Tale.
Super Lucky’s Tale was released on the Xbox One back in November by Playful Corp. (developer of Creativerse and Star Child) with a recent addition to the Windows 10 store. In the game, you play as the titular Lucky, a young fox who dreams of adventures and the heroic feats that he will one day live out. After all, he belongs to a family of Guardians – protectors of a mysterious artifact called The Book of Ages.
However, mischievous groups of cats are after the book. The cats are known as the Kitty Litter, led by one fowl feline named Jinx,. Within The Book of Ages lie countless worlds of limitless potential – all of which Jinx seeks to dominate. Unlucky for Lucky, the lot of them get swallowed up into the book – including himself! It is up to Lucky to scoop out the Kitty Litter from The Book of Ages and find his own path to becoming a Guardian.
For this review, we also got access to the first piece of DLC, Gilly’s Island. This tropical resort is under to siren spell of Lady Meowmalade, forcing the residents and patrons alike to dance to her awful music… not unlike a middle school dance! While it didn’t seem to add much mechanically, it did add to the story.
Super Lucky’s Tale is a platformer, but I wouldn’t categorize it as a 3D platformer in the traditional sense. It’s more like the middle child in between 2.5D and 3D platformers – not really sure of it’s place and always trying to be like one of the others.
Let me explain:
Yes, Super Lucky’s Tale does have 3D platforming, but it also has levels that are pure 2.5D. To make matters all the more interesting, it also has foreground and background portions of some of those level. It is a creative approach, but it falls into the trap of multitasking: it does a bunch of things alright but struggles to do any of them well.
There is not a great amount of camera control. This is apparent is in the fully 3D worlds. The player has access to a few degrees to the left or right of Lucky, but not enough to see the full scope of what is around you. This is a major strike against the game as solid platforming requires the ability to judge the jumps and know the environment you are working with. This doesn’t impact the 2.5ish-D worlds, but it does make the 3D ones less enjoyable.
The second strike against the game is in controller support. Windows 10 recognizes both PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch remotes when they are plugged in and many Steam titles take full advantage of this compatibility. Super Lucky’s Tale does not – forcing me to play with keyboard controls. It’s inconvenient, but not all together undoable. The controls are fairly simple with your directional inputs for movement, jumping with a double tap, a tail swipe attack, and the ability to burrow. Even though a keyboard isn’t terrible to use, I do hope that Playful can patch the game to include support for the broader range of input devices in the future.
All of that being said, Super Lucky’s Tale’s art and music are whimsical. Lucky himself has a wide-eyed wonder about his design and swappable costume pieces that reminds you that he is a kid – not a hardened hero. His bedsheet-turned-cape brought me back to my own misadventures in make-believe. Even the Kitty Litter lampoons the personality of cats within their portrayal. It’s very endearing.
The worlds within The Book of Ages all have their own unique theming and puzzles to them which fit the aesthetic. In each level, you collect coins, gems, and clover leaves. There is a potential of four clovers per level collected by completing a level, fulfilling the terms of a puzzle or challenge, collecting 300 coins within a level, and collecting letters to spell out “LUCKY.” There are also additional ones accessible through puzzles in the overworld. Coins are used to purchase cosmetic items while clover leaves function much like Super Mario Odyssey’s moons. You use them to progress through the game’s 4 (or more with DLC) hub worlds.
So with all of the pros and cons, what do I think of Super Lucky’s Tale?
This game breaks my heart a little. It has the trappings of a really great game – specifically, a really great game for kids and kids-at-heart. It’s a call back to a more simple time in gaming where mascots didn’t have to have attitudes or even be the most capable. Lucky is adorable and his world is full of wonder, but the lack of diverse controller options along with poor camera handling make this game less than excellent. And all of this comes with a premium price tag of $29.99 with the individual DLC passes at an extra $4.99 a piece.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on Windows PC with a code provided by PR.
COMPARE TO: Banjo-Kazooie, Super Mario 3D World