Super Lucky's Tale

Super Lucky's Tale

Is there room for a new platforming icon among the genre greats?

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It was during Microsoft's E3 show that a red, fluffy tail appeared and caused a lot of Rare fans to hold their collective breath. Was it time for long-absent foul-mouthed Conker to be revived? The fact that it was a platform-exclusive for Microsoft also pointed to a much-desired revival. When the fox appeared, though, it was clear that the publisher wasn't bringing the old franchise back from the dead, and that another red fluffy animal was making its Xbox debut instead. A more huggable one, in fact. No doubt there were a few sighs when the game was revealed, but is this really a character and a game worth sighing about?

It's tough to establish a new franchise in a genre that had its heyday in the '80s and '90s, so when a studio makes an honest attempt to compete with the genre giants that we remember through nostalgia-tinted glasses, it's worth at least giving it a chance with an open mind. The Oculus Rift game, Lucky's Tale, received a relatively warm reception despite its stylised setup when it was released last year, and now it's time to further develop the concept, this time without any VR elements (and virtual reality never really offered that much to this genre anyway).

Playful Corp's Super Lucky's Tale doesn't have the same established presence some of the classic platforming mascots enjoy, and therefore Lucky won't be on the receiving end of any unconditional love beforehand, nobody will ignore any of its problems, and the game could well be seen as a lesser competitor to the masterpieces of yore. In addition, it has been released at the same time as the very entertaining Super Mario Odyssey. That's a tough ask for a relative newcomer we think, fortunately, though, this new platformer actually performs quite well.

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Super Lucky's Tale

Super Lucky's Tale begins in the middle of a quarrel between the happy Guardians and the angry, genuinely super evil cat Jinx (and his Kitty Litter gang, don't forget them). Jinx and his not so merry band desperately want the "Book of Ages", which our protagonist duo protect with their fox-lives and refuse to give up. Suddenly the book opens and swallows up both the gang of kitties and the poor Lucky, who sacrifices himself to save his sister from whatever is waiting inside the tome.

The player is welcomed by an incredibly inviting, colourful and wonderfully designed world inhabited by charming creatures to talk to, nasty enemies to deal with, coins and gadgets to collect, and levels to beat. Those who consider themselves fans of beautiful old 3D platformers like Banjo-Kazooie and Conker's Bad Fur Day will feel right at home here, because the lovely smell of sweet retro is really noticeable, even if it might be just a touch more kiddy-oriented than more age-inclusive games such as Mario and Sonic. The game world is divided into several different hub worlds, which, in addition to offering various collectibles, house a number of different levels to be completed.

Your mission is to help your happy little fox platform and puzzle his way back to his dear sister, in the process overcoming the Kitty Litter gang members. To beat challenges you have to get through all of the hub worlds and boss fights, one for each meanie cat. The levels are all very different; some are played as 2D platformers in a way that reminds of Donkey Kong, while others are reminiscent of Nintendo's colourful 3D adventure Super Mario 3D World. This environmental variation helps the game avoid becoming repetitive, and each level is a step towards a new adventure, thus it's hard to put the controller down once you get started.

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Super Lucky's TaleSuper Lucky's Tale

On all levels (even in the hub worlds) there are gadgets to collect and small secret missions to tackle. Money and hearts (that restore health points after taking damage) are the most common resources, while letters (a la Donkey Kong, which spell Lucky after all of them are found on a level) and shamrocks are scattered sparsely. The latter allows you to unlock new stages to play and these are found either by completing quests, given as a reward at the end of a boss fight, by completing secret challenge levels, or they're just cleverly hidden somewhere in the level.

In addition to cat fighting, there are a variety of friends and enemy types on each level, most of which fit the theme of the stage you're on. Angry onions, scary wasps, funny larvae, and ghastly ghosts - Lucky must defeat them all. Many of them look really tough, but fortunately Lucky has some aces up his sleeve - he's not a fox to mess with.

Super Lucky's Tale

You control him with the left joystick, look around with the right, can pull off a swirling kick with X, jump with A, and then dig underground to (literally) scare the life out of opponents when you catch them by surprise. All commands are easy to understand and Lucky is really easy to manoeuvre. He also has a sense of weight that helps prevent the movements from not feeling too exaggerated, making it easier to get where you want without falling into the abyss too often.

The graphics are incredibly colourful, as mentioned earlier, and the character design is really nice to look at and will make you reminisce about the Nintendo 64 era. For those playing on Xbox One X you'll be able to enjoy the game in 4K and with a silky-smooth 60 frames-per-second. Although this review was based on our experience playing on a standard Xbox One, the visuals were crisp and sharp. The overall design, as well as the wonderful variation in the levels, mixes really well with the platforming and the actual playability of the game.

Super Lucky's TaleSuper Lucky's Tale

Unfortunately, we've encountered some bugs and the game has crashed more than once. While this will almost certainly be fixed with a patch, it's obviously frustrating. In terms of difficulty, Super Lucky's Tale is otherwise fair, not too easy and not too difficult, and you have to play tactically to make it to the end of each level. Three hearts make up the life meter, old-school stylee, and therefore three hits will force you to start over. Once again, fans of the older games in the genre should feel right at home.

It's worth mentioning the fact that Playful Corp is a tiny indie studio, so the fact that they managed to create such a charming, retro-inspired 3D platformer like Super Lucky's Tale is really impressive. This is an incredibly fun game that offers several hours of entertainment with high replay value, and it's definitely worth checking out if you are a platform fan. Playful Corp really deserves its own passionate audience and, hopefully, this is a game that can be something today's kids can look back on with the same warmth as we remember the classics from yesteryear.

Super Lucky's TaleSuper Lucky's TaleSuper Lucky's Tale
08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
Really charming design, a lot of content, intuitive controls, difficult but fair, amazing characters, fun for all ages, good enemy and environmental variation.
A couple of annoying bugs, strange checkpoints.
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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