Super Lucky’s Tale on the Xbox One is a sequel/port of the Virtual Reality (VR) platformer, Lucky’s Tale. The game is cute and colourful and primarily aimed at a younger audience. From the very start the game tries to draw us into the cutesy world but falls short. To summarise a beginning that is way too long; Lucky is a cute fox, his sister is a guardian and there is a magic book he gets sucked into.
Each world is a page of a book and each has its own evil cat villain from the “Kitty Litter” crew, the evil villains that Lucky must stop for some reason. It’s a simple story with terrible writing. At the very least it’s a step up from Lucky’s Tale where there was only one world to explore. Here the game has evolved into multiple hub worlds, each with a theme, breaking things up with boss fights and overworld collectables. Each level has four clovers and to get to the next level a number of clovers are required. Because of this, Lucky needs to replay areas in order to continue. There are 99 clovers to collect but 80 of these are required to even finish the game. This means the majority of levels have to be 100% completed, which is more than a game should ever ask of someone – especially from kids.
Lucky is clearly not the best hero for the job as he only has two abilities at his disposal – digging and jumping. Neither are particularly useful. The jump has a strange feeling of heaviness to it and his double jump does nothing to raise him any higher. In fact he barely jumps at all which is strange considering he is a fox, which are known for their nimbleness. The main attack button is actually just a stun. Similarly to how Crash Bandicoot spins to repel enemies, Lucky spins around using his tail but this only stuns enemies. The dig function is how you have to defeat every enemy, digging under the ground and launching up into the sky and onto their head. This is extremely repetitive and frustrating.
Moving is a huge part of platformers. When the whole aspect of your game revolves around movement you have to make the character’s movements fluid and fun otherwise the whole game is not going to work. It’s like if a racing game had terrible driving mechanics. Lucky’s movements are infuriating. His jumps are inconsistent and constantly fall short. His double jump does nothing to assist in these countless moments and doesn’t even work as a mechanic for getting around levels. His jumps are never precise and never consistent in distance or height. I often found myself plummeting to my death over and over again through no fault of my own.
The game constantly tries to mix things up by creating levels where you cannot jump and instead walk frustratingly slowly while carrying some item across the area. This isn’t fun, it’s boring! Lucky is not a fast mover at the best of times but when he carries something he moves even slower. Creating multiple LEVELS around this, not even just small parts of puzzles, is terrible.
The writing fails to hit its mark over and over, faltering to establish any real kind of identity. The VR game was focused around the gameplay and puzzles which works much better than annoying characters throwing out bad puns and dry lines every 30 seconds. The first boss is a ninja cat who constantly reminds us that he has mastered the “Mew-shu” arts. This is made even worse by making them unskippable after each death and even when replaying levels for the additional clovers. When writing for children most people will forgive terrible writing with the excuse that kids just care about bright colours and don’t pay attention. This isn’t right and is not a proper excuse. Kids are paying attention and know when they are being talked down to.
I just need to add a nitpicking section for all the tiny things that infuriated me; Not knowing what letters are missing in L-U-C-K-Y as you collect them, being forced to platform in the background when the foreground takes up the majority of the screen, having a loading screen each time you die, having a long animation play every time a life is lost, the overworld is filled with clipping bugs and holes in the walls that broke the game, Lucky is a 3D game but the majority of the levels are just 2D which makes no sense, there is no control over the camera, and most annoyingly completing long puzzles rewards you with coins instead of clovers.
Finally I need to talk about the final boss. Spoiler warning if you are really worried about that. The final boss is the perfect example of Super Lucky’s Tale as it is riddled with every problem that the game has – from the terrible camera and control issues to the bland writing and unfulfilling climax that characters just shrug off and go back to their normal lives. The reward for winning was nothing more than a quick, motion comic strip ending (they couldn’t even be bothered to animate a cutscene) where the unremarkable story has an unremarkable conclusion.
The Bottom Line
I wanted so badly to like this game – I love old school platformers like Crash Bandicoot, Banjo Kazooie and Jak and Daxter but I just couldn’t. The style is cute and adorable which is right up my alley and I wish more games looked as nice as Super Lucky’s Tale, but that can’t be the only good thing to say about a game. If you like an aesthetic and can put everything else to the side then maybe you could enjoy this game, but it wasn’t for me.