The love child of Microsoft Studios and Playful definitely didn’t meet expectations as Super Lucky’s Tale just felt like your average 3D platforming game. What’s even worse is that this is the supposed launch title for the Xbox One X and it felt as if Microsoft could have done so much better. Although the game is trying to go for that family-friendly vibe, it won’t help if it feels just like every other generic 3D Mario clone.
Platform Reviewed: Xbox One
Platforms Available: Xbox One, PC (Xbox Play Anywhere)
Developer: Playful Corp.
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: November 7, 2017
This review is based on a review code provided by Playful Corp.
The game revolves around Lucky, a small and cute little fox whose mission is to help his sister rescue the Book of Ages from the mysterious and scheming feline, Jinx. As Jinx gets sucked into the book, Luck quickly follows and tries to stop his scheme of reshaping the world. Along Lucky’s quest, he comes across Jinx’s children which form the nefarious group known as the Kitty Litter. Their mission is to stop Lucky from making it to their father while at the same time ruining the lives of those who inhabit the book. So while Lucky is traveling between worlds and meeting new friends along the way, he has a lot of things and dangers to deal with if he wants to prevent the world from falling into the hands of Jinx and his cohorts.
The way you’re introduced to the game is pretty nice. You’re given a short clip where you get to know a bit about the main protagonist, as well as being given a brief summary of how things came to be; all of which is narrated by Lucky’s Sister, Lyra.
Though the introduction is short, cute, and sweet, the way you’re plunged into the world and how you’re introduced to the game’s mechanics just came across as lazy. Once you can start moving around, you’ll see a couple of wooden signs that tells you what buttons to press in order to perform certain actions. This could have been done better if the players were given situations wherein they have to learn and master the basics if they want to get through parts of the level, but they’re just situated in places where players don’t even have to notice them.
These instructions tell you how to pull off the usual jump and attack maneuvers (The attack coming in the form of a spin that covers a very small radius around Lucky), but it also teaches you how to pull off Lucky’s supposedly defining ability which is called “Diving”. This allows lucky to burrow underground and constantly move until the player decides to release the command or if Lucky collides with anything too hard. This should have been the one thing that would have made the game standout from the other platformers, but it just comes across as flat. It can even be inconsistent at certain points. Lucky cannot dive through cold steel, which is understandable of course, but apparently he can dive and burrow on a tree’s top part as if he were burrowing in the earth. That’s not exactly what you would be able to expect him to do now is it?
While you’re exploring through different Hub worlds and levels, you have to collect four-leaf clovers in order to progress through the game’s plot. They can be obtained by collecting 300 coins, finding hidden areas, gathering up letters which spell out “Lucky”, and by simply finishing the level. It’s nice that the game tries to make you go out of your way to actually explore your surroundings, but it can all come across as boring and tedious after a certain period as you’ll find yourself repeating the same pattern over and over.
The game makes you try to feel like you’re playing a collectathon, but every single thing you end up collecting will just feel empty and meaningless. Lets get this out of the way now, Super Lucky’s Tale is definitely not worth completing 100%. The only thing you get out of this is bragging rights in the form of statues that you can unlock via the four-leaf-clovers. And the coins? You need to collect 300 to gain at least one life, and lives don’t matter in this game as losing all of them just means you going back to the very beginning of the level where you failed in.
Having a coin counter at the top-left side of your screen and seeing the number go beyond the thousands will just make you feel like you’ve wasted your time as coins don’t do anything but give you extra lives that are worthless. One would have expected that being able to amass all of these coins would mean that Lucky is able to purchase upgrades such as longer jumps or higher attack damage. Sadly, the game won’t even give you that joy as Lucky’s abilities never change throughout your entire playthrough.
Speaking of jumps, Lucky’s double jump is so short that it would have been better if the developers just removed it and allowed the players to increase the height of their jump based on how long they held down the button command. There have been many situations where platforming sections became so much harder due to the height of the double jump being too short. This can cause players to end up falling into bottomless pits and losing a life (not that this matters so much) or getting easily hit by enemies or enemy projectiles that should have been avoidable.
It doesn’t help that the camera in this game feels like it’s trying to go against the player. Instead of allowing you to freely move around to assess the area, moving the right analog stick just ends up quickly moving the screen to around 30 degree bursts. It doesn’t help that sometimes the camera won’t even go past a certain point. This makes platforming so much harder as you won’t be able to gauge the distances of certain jumps, and that’s not something you want in your 3D platformer. Sometimes it’s better not to just mess with the camera at all and just play the game with the default angle at the beginning of every level.
Enemy variety feels so limited as there’s barely anything unique about them. There are only a few exceptions to this case and even then they’re easy to take out as all you have to do to kill every single one of them is by simply jumping on top of their heads and see watch them turn into a puff of smoke. You would think that the Lucky’s spin attack would at least have some sort of damage output, but the only thing it does is stun opponents which then gives you the opportunity to, what else? Jump on their heads.
Though the boss fights do offer some form of challenge, the dialogue you’re presented every time you meet each member of the Kitty Letter makes it feel like the developers aren’t even trying with both the story and the writing. This goes for just about every other character that you can interact with as none of them have any sort of development throughout your entire journey.
Yes all of them differ in appearance and each have a bit of a personality that makes them somewhat unique (from a country worm on the farm to a festive yeti on top of a canyon), but they’re just as interesting as watching paint dry. Talking to them feels more like an inconvenience than something that you would look forward to, and all of the lines that they spew out will make you wish there was the option to just remove the dialogue altogether.
The levels do have a sense of variety in them as some shift the gameplay and make you play a 2d side scroller. Their environments don’t look half bad either and they really accentuate the theme of every world they’re based off. Everything looks nice and colorful and some of these levels do offer some sort of challenge. The only problem is that sometimes levels can drag on for far too long and some of them force you to make tight jumps that make you feel like you have to get hit before you can make it through.
While the levels can be good at times, it’s the “mini-games” which are spread around the Hub worlds that are actually kind of fun and enjoyable. There’s a good amount of variety as they can range from having to think carefully to solve difficult puzzles or testing your ability to guide a shrunken Lucky in hamster ball from point A to point B. Majority of them are quite interesting and you’ll wish there were more once you’ve completed them all; with one exception being the final “mini-game” as it throws away all the things that made the previous ones fun.
The soundtrack isn’t the best, but there are a couple of memorable pieces in the game that players will definitely find themselves humming to (Shout out to the music piece performed by a country worm band in a particular level of the game). One problem is that some tracks were just reused on certain levels and that just takes away the defining quality of the area where you first heard the music.
While the game is somewhat on the bearable level (as bearable as generic 3d platformers go anyway.), there are a couple of key problems that just can’t go unignored. First is that during the beginning of the game, Lyra mentions that she’s willing to offer Lucky help with his adventures by dropping things every now and then. You would expect that she’d drop you really useful items or even help you get past certain obstacles by tossing something into the level every now and then. Instead, all you get is a handful of coins and one meaningless extra life every time you enter a new world. Not exactly much help from sis now is it?
Next would have to be how you can die in the Hub worlds. That’s right, you can literally lose all of your lives just by exploring the Hub worlds. These are areas that were meant to give players a breather, so it doesn’t help that players have to be careful around them as well.
Then there’s the story. The game tells you that you have to stop Jinx from taking over the world, it’s just that there’s no tension whatsoever. There were many teams were the Kitty litter could have easily gotten rid of Lucky, but they instead think that it’s best to test him and give him opportunities to fight his way out of an already hopeless situation. It’s like the bad guys aren’t even trying. You won’t even care so much for the inhabitants of every world whose lives the Kitty Litter have apparently ruined. It doesn’t even feel like the anything bad is happening as just about every character looks like they’re getting along with life just fine, even with the looming threat hovering above their heads.
The game is also so linear that you feel like the Hub worlds are pointless. Unlike other 3d platforming games where you can choose the order of levels that you want to make your way through, Super Lucky’s Tale forces you to tackle all of them one at a time in a particular sequence. You don’t have the freedom of choice and that can really
And lastly, what you get for completing the game. While fighting Jinx in the final level of the is somewhat challenging as well as interesting, what you get in the end for completing everything feels like such a slap to the face. All you get is one little scene showing that Lucky saves the day and makes his way out of the book and into his sister’s arms, the sister saying that she and Lucky should go an adventure together someday, and then the whole thing cuts to black. It’s just straight to the credits from there and once that’s done? You’re pushed back right at the title screen. There isn’t any end-game exploration or added constant, you’re just done, and that’s exactly how I felt at the end of it all.
Overall, Super Lucky’s Tale is definitely not something that platforming fanatics are going to want to pick up. This game is more suited to children or people who are just starting to get into platformers as the game felt like it could have been so much more.