Looking back at the reveal, I’ve long since wanted to get hands on with Super Lucky’s Tale. I’m a big fan of platformer games and it goes without saying that no one does it quite as well as Mario. Some titles do manage to come close such as Yooka Laylee, a game that was wide open and accessible but lacked a degree of structure in place of freedom. Super Lucky’s Tale on the other hand is the polar opposite, it houses decent structure but lacks solid level design and comes with very little challenge. Contending with the likes of Super Mario Odyssey and Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, two high profile platformer games that have released this year, it’s hard not to feel disappointed with what we have with Super Lucky’s Tale. Don’t get me wrong it’s a gorgeous looking game but beauty is only skin deep and the characteristics within don’t prove to be either thrilling nor exciting, which is a shame to say the least.
The game throws you into the role of the cute and endearing fox, Lucky. Following an unfortunate event, Lucky finds himself on a quest to save his sister from a bunch of evil cats known as Kitty Litter – headed by Papa Jinx. You’re tasked with traversing four distinct worlds on your search for your sibling, in which progression is gated by collecting Clovers. Clovers serve the same purpose as Stars from Mario 64, being that the more you collect the more you can progress. This is where the first problem with the game comes into view, which is the replay value. Replay value isn’t something that should feel forced, it’s an aspect of a game that should be present for those that have been won over by the content within to ‘want’ to replay missions in order to achieve a fabled 100%. Sadly however Super Lucky’s Tale doesn’t think that way and instead you’re required to collect roughly 80% of the Clovers to square up to the final boss. It’s not a huge complaint I know, but it does prove to become irritating and begs the question as to why force us to play old levels? Especially when the structure of the game up until that point is solid and commendable.
Another problem with the game rears its ugly head from the moment you pick up control of Lucky. It’s far too damn simple. I understand that this game has a wide target audience but you cant alienate long running fans of the genre by over-simplifying the gameplay to ensure that it’s not too difficult for the younger players. Does Mario do that? No. Did Crash do that? No. Guess what? They’re noted as some of the greatest platformer games of all time too. Why? Because they felt so freakin’ rewarding when you achieved what felt like the impossible. There’s a grand total of 99 Clovers to collect in Super Lucky’s Tale, many of which will be gifted to you for completing a level, collecting a set amount of coins, collecting letters, or seeking out a secret task. The problem is that it just doesn’t feel challenging enough and instead feels like you’re just going through the motions. Where’s the mammoth side-difficulty at? Did the cats kidnap that too? The same can be said about the boss fights that are present within, all of which tend to spoon feed you sooner than kill you.
The actual gameplay and control you’re given of Lucky is solid and well designed. You’re never required to take too much in which is good thing when it comes to a platformer if you ask me. Lucky can jump, double jump, tail spin, and tunnel underground to seek out hidden goodies. The game toys with these moves in a range of different ways in an attempt to challenge you, but again, even at its most challenging the game is far too easy. Unfortunately your control over the camera movement caps at a certain degree, giving you no option to rotate the camera as far as you would like. Something that’s been present in most platformer titles for the last decade seems to be absent here, and hopefully something the devs will adjust in a post-launch update. It may seem like I’m being overly harsh about Super Lucky’s Tale, but that’s not the case.
As aforementioned I’m a big fan of the genre but I (at the very least) have expectations that any bog-standard platformer game should house. It’s like playing the love-child of Mario and Crash with Skylanders difficult setting in place. Mercifully the level structure is well set and comes with a great portion of content to sink into. There’s a blanket layer of puzzle aspects thrown into the mix to give your head an occasional workout, but these don’t tend to be overly taxing and instead just breaks up the pace of play at the right time, which is a good thing. This can range from moving statues into specific places or taking on a handful of minigame-like tasks. Super Lucky’s Tale will often switch from a 3D adventure to a 2D platformer in an attempt to add more variety to the fields of play. These sections are particularly challenging either but they do prove to be interesting and immersive nevertheless.
The visuals are gorgeous and it’s clear that a lot of care and attention has gone into making this adventure look as charming as it does. There’s a good level of variety too which ensures that you’re constantly treated to new sights as you progress further in. The enemy variants and other characters that you will engage with are memorable and well implemented, but it goes without saying that Lucky steals the show on this front. I mean who doesn’t love a cute Fox mascot? Look at him, he’s adorable. It’s just a shame he’s been crammed into a game that lacks much of the functionality and depth that you would expect from any given platformer in 2017, and ten years prior. This is a game that appeals to a large audience pool, but will most likely only truly connect with those that in the younger spectrum. It’s not a bad game by any means but it’s certainly not a great game, it’s just an okay one.
Nintendo has Super Mario Odyssey and PlayStation has Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, which is why I was really hoping that Super Lucky’s Tale would be more than what it is. Instead it’s an overly simplistic platformer that comes with annoyances such as limited camera control and forced replay value. Super Lucky’s Tale desperately wants to immerse you with how stunning and diverse it looks, but fails to totally captivate you due to how damn easy everything is. Literally you’ll be going through the motions with 99% of your deaths being down to failing to land a jump correctly or something to a similar degree. The enemy and character variants are memorable, as is the protagonist, but this isn’t a game that will rub shoulders with the best and I have no doubt it will be forgotten about by Christmas. It’s a great investment if you’re looking to gift to younger players or have some family trouble-free fun, but for anyone that enjoys their platformers with a layer of challenge, this isn’t it. Super Lucky’s Tale may well be endearing, beautiful, diverse and charming, but it fails to ultimately deliver a definitive platforming experience.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.