With the successes of Yooka-Laylee, Crash Bandicoot: Nsane Trilogy, and Sonic Mania this year, there seems to once again be a market not only for retro platformers, but also those including colourful animals as well. Super Lucky's Tale will be adding to that list when it comes out on PC and Xbox One on November 7, alongside the Xbox One X, and we got the chance to play the game on the upcoming console in London recently at an Xbox Showcase event, which let us play through a level of the game.
This isn't Lucky's debut, however, as Playful Entertainment's colourful critter was featured in the adventure game Lucky's Tale on Oculus Rift last year. Now, however, he's jumping from the world of VR to that of traditional gaming, and when we spoke to Playful in London they assured us that this is totally standalone and you won't need to play the original to enjoy this one.
In essence, the gameplay format hasn't changed much from the Oculus Rift game, as it's still a bright platformer where you run, jump, and attack in order to solve light puzzles and advance. It's nothing new, but here you don't have the challenge of having to navigate exclusively using a VR headset, which is a plus. That does mean, however, that motion control isn't included, so bad news if you were a big fan of lobbing bombs using this feature in the original.
The first thing we noticed when sitting on the opening menu screen is that the music is very chilled indeed, something that appears to be a conscious decision by the designers. This is all about taking your time and having a fun and relaxed experience, it would seem, and the slow-paced and charming tunes of the game reinforce that. This doesn't mean it's not memorable, though, as we came away humming some of the songs we had heard from the game after putting it down.
The level we saw then tasked us with waking the Great Golem to prove ourselves worthy of fighting with Master Mittens, master of the Mew-Shu arts, and to do this we needed to collect the three heads of the bell-ringers, who would then rouse this Great Golem from its slumber for us. Then we had to go down three separate paths in the levels to get these three heads - something we've seen done many a time before.
As for the puzzles and enemies we had to conquer to get these heads (which we then had to carry all the way back), these were never too taxing, but were weird and wonderful (as they indeed should be for a 3D platformer), whether that be the homicidal plants that try to smash their face into you, or the rotating platforms/fireballs combo while you were carrying the heavy head.
Visually, this level followed the classic verdant green formula that we've seen in so many games before it, and it's not clear what other styles of level we can expect in the full game, but either way, this starting level looked great, which is all we can ask for. As expected on the Xbox One X, this all looked very shiny as well, with crisp definition, popping colours, and shiny textures aplenty, so this may well be one fans want to see in 4K as opposed to the regular HD treatment.
As you might expect, there are also secrets to collect too, as in each level there are the letters that spell out Lucky as well as some extra lives and coins to get, so you'll be rewarded for looking off the beaten track and keeping an eye out for hidden platforms and passageways. Considering the family-friendly nature of the game, these aren't too hard to get, but they look like they'll add a number of hours if you're really intent on getting them all.
One minor gripe we had with our time in the game was Lucky's movement, as he can sometimes be a little bit slow and clunky, especially being on all fours. He doesn't turn and react quite as quickly as is needed sometimes, and although this was never bad enough to get us killed or fall off of ledges or anything, it wasn't as satisfying as it could have been.
At the end, after we'd collected all the heads and awoken the Golem, we then needed to take on Master Mittens in a boss battle, and this was probably the hardest part of the level (as you'd expect). Here we were dodging fire coming left, right, and centre, while trying to deflect the attacks of minions as well, and with so much going on, this was actually the only time we lost a life.
Overall, though, Super Lucky's Tale looks good, is interesting to explore, and looks like it will offer the kind of colourful and joyous entertainment we've come to expect and love in 3D platformers. Sure, it doesn't seem to be pushing the boat out massively, but it's innocent fun with a lot of cutesy appeal to it, something that should appeal to young gamers and fans of the 3D platformers of old as well.