Lucky’s certainly a weird fox, mostly because he always seems out of time and place. First, Lucky’s Tale premiered as an Oculus-exclusive game, showcasing how VR tech could be used for a non first-person platforming experience – which arguably goes against what you want from a VR experience. Nevertheless, it was popular enough for Microsoft to see something in the franchise and snap up Lucky for the console exclusive Super Lucky’s Tale, now non-VR on Xbox One. Releasing alongside the Xbox One X, it’s again an odd choice given that as a gentle 3D platformer, its visuals don’t do a lot to showcase the power of the machine, and its gameplay is unlikely to appeal to the hardcore-enthusiasts who would purchase the console. Even stranger is the hint at the end of Super Lucky’s Tale that a sequel may come with co-op action, a concept that might have been considered innovative 20 years ago.
Nevertheless, Super Lucky’s Tale is a competent platformer. It feels like a relic of an era back in the PS1 days, when platformer heroes were still being churned out, like Croc or Klonoa. Gameplay mostly takes place in small 3D environments, with a locked-off camera that can only be tilted slightly in a couple of directions (a bizarre turn of events considering the free-looking VR camera in the original release). Occasionally a 2D platform level is thrown in to really test your skills, providing a little more challenge with precise jumps and spike traps, but it is quite a mild affair overall. Boss battles with a pack of angry cats also break up the affair, with kind-of amusing personalities and half-smirk worthy puns.
Lucky just doesn’t really stand out in any significant way. He can double-jump and swipe with his tail as his main moves. He doesn’t have the precision controls of Mario, nor does he have the speed of Sonic, or the wacky personality of Rayman. Lucky’s only real signature ability is that he can dig in certain patches of ground like Bugs Bunny, and rustle around to dig up coins or buried treasure, indicated by mounds. Small timed challenges sometimes require you to mix diving underground with precision jumps to collect treasure before it disappears, but Lucky’s controls just aren’t quite tight enough to pull this off most times.
There are four worlds, each with their own theme such as ‘grassy kingdom’ or ‘desert’ or ‘Halloween’, which contain portals to levels which open up sequentially, in a much more linear fashion than many other platformers. Each level has multiple ‘Clovers’ to collect – one for completing the level, one for collecting 300 coins, one for collecting the letters ‘LUCKY’ and another for completing a hidden objective. Alongside these there are small mini-levels hidden in the hub-world that offer a Clover-a-piece, and include endless-runner style levels, sliding statue puzzles and marble mazes. There are 99 Clovers in the game, and the requirement to reach the final boss is quite high – 80 Clovers. It’s not so bad if you’ve been collecting everything you can along the way, but if you have just been rushing through the main levels you’ll find yourself having to backtrack quite significantly just to reach the necessary number. Outside of pure progression, there isn’t a lot of incentive to collect Clovers – there are statues in each world that can be upgraded depending on the number you have, but it’s purely an aesthetic change.
Despite being an Xbox One X launch title, Super Lucky’s Tale benefits little from the hardware, except for a resolution boost and a smooth framerate. The visuals, while clean and simple, aren’t particularly colourful, even in HDR.
Super Lucky’s Tale is actually somewhat enjoyable – it’s just on the right side of the cusp of being ‘good’. It’s a gentle experience for families, and it even has a few challenging moments in its 2D sections. It has the misfortune of being released in the same period as Super Mario Odyssey, even though it’s on a different console, which shows just how excellent platformers can be in the modern era. I do realise, however, it’s like comparing a Disney Channel movie to Citizen Kane. One will remain a classic forever – the other is enjoyable light entertainment for an afternoon, that won’t leave any lasting impression. You can guess which one is Super Lucky’s Tale.
- Simple, clean style - Pleasant vibe, some cute puns - Gentle adventure, quite relaxing - A few challenging levels
- Average platforming, very little that feels unique - Plenty to collect, but not much incentive to do so - Feels short, but given the repetition it is probably about the right length - Really doesn't take advantage of the Xbox One X in any significant way