Title: Super Lucky’s Tale Review
Available On: Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Developer: Playful Corp
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Genre: Action, Platformer
Official Site: https://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/super-luckys-tale
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Where to Buy it: Local Retailers, Microsoft Store
Super Lucky’s Tale is the sequel to the Oculus Rift exclusive game, Lucky’s Tale, that was launched with the VR headset last year. And while the game looks like a charming version of Conker’s Bad Fur Day on the outside, without all the adult stuff, it fails to properly execute on the key gameplay elements and design necessary to succeed in the 3D platformer genre.
Hands down the most important feature in a 3D platforming game is the camera. Giving players the ability to look at each angle in order to analyze their jumps correctly is the difference between making the gameplay fun and fluid and dying on the simplest of bounces in the Hub world because of the camera’s perspective.
Super Lucky’s Tale has a horrible camera. There is no excuse for only being able to turn your character in a 30-degree motion to either side in 2017. If you are going to do that, just don’t make a 3D game, stick to 2D. More than anything, the lack of freedom regarding the camera’s orientation takes away from the other most important element in platformers, controls.
Jumping is a pain, especially when trying to combat aerial enemies. Floating foes like birds (who look like Angry Birds rip-offs) and bees take one hit to kill, like every other enemy, but feel like boss fights sometimes because of tracking issues or inconsistencies with jumps. Those inconsistencies led to plenty of plunges to my death as well.
Despite the clunky controls and camera the game does have some redeeming features for its platforming. There are plenty of unique and interesting set pieces. An example being traversing through a level filled with fireballs and rotating platforms all while carrying a Gatekeepers head. Foxholes also feature interesting puzzles and platforming but nothing that will rock the brain too hard. Unfortunately, while these do add variation, these “quests” all revolve around pretty similar objectives. After assisting a gatekeeper for the thousandth time and putting their head back on their body you have to wonder how these dopey creatures can survive on their own.
I can certainly appreciate the aesthetic and look that the game was going for, as it’s cute cast of characters that set themselves apart from the norm in most games. Yet the graphics and environments are subpar when measured up to two other games in the genre and really feel like an amateur made it as opposed to an actual studio. It could be argued that the games look was aimed at younger children, but a good game can appeal to all ages when done right.
The gameplay in Super Lucky’s Tale certainly seems aimed at a younger demographic as well, as the game isn’t all too difficult. Level design and enemies are very basic – with some form of neat variation here and there switching between 2D and 3D – as most enemies take one Mario jump to the head or tail swipe and they are beaten. But the game takes a fair amount of cheap routes as a way of lengthening the playthrough, providing challenges in the form a life counter, which will reset levels if it happens to run out. There’s really no need or sense for this counter, but if it was going to be a feature the developers wanted in the game, why can I die in Hub World or Foxholes and have it still affect the counter? More often than not, I would find myself doing really well in one level, then I’d have to restart the entire thing because of the life counter carry over from past levels.
While each level does offer some form of replayability, as there are four different objectives that can be completed to earn more clovers, again the game cheapens this idea of optional content with its end game. To advance to the final boss you have to collect 80 out of the 99 clovers in total. It’s as blatant a form of padding a game as can be for a title that in reality should have lasted four hours but instead clocks in at around eight.
I think the game really would have benefited from simply sticking to 2D platforming instead of adding in 3D elements that lead to camera issues as well as an unnecessary Hub world. This change could have fixed many of the camera problems and clunky controls Super Lucky’s Tale faced.
Verdict: Super Lucky’s Tale was a valiant attempt at cementing a new platforming Mascot for Microsoft alongside the Xbox One X’s release, but a poor camera and subsequently faulty controls hinder what could have been a fun platformer. At a price point of $30, the game isn’t a horrible buy for anyone looking to spend the day farming coins and clovers, but it just doesn’t draw me in when similar, better games like Super Mario Odyssey are available at the same time.
- Cute aesthetic
- Foxholes and 2D set pieces
- 30-degree camera rotation
- Awkward controls
- Death counter
- Obvious game time padding