3D platformer fans have little reason to complain this year about the lack of platforming games. 2017 has become a renaissance of sorts for the genre with the release of games like Super Mario Odyssey, Yooka-Laylee and A Hat in Time. What's better is that it isn't stopping anytime soon with the adorable arrival of Super Lucky's Tale.
The follow-up to its VR exclusive predecessor, Super Lucky's Tale has you hop into the shoes of the cute and charming young fox Lucky across four worlds composed of numerous levels.
Super Lucky's Tale begins with a forgettable opening where Lucky leaps into a magical book to stop a gang of evil cats from destroying his home. Over the course of the story, you will travel through the book to four unique worlds and defeat each member of the devious Kitty Litter before taking on their captain.
While Super Lucky's Tale's premise is simple, the execution is surprisingly well done. As you journey through the worlds, you'll meet various side characters and villains that never take themselves too seriously, brought to life by snappy and well-written dialogue. The mad scientist and the evil "karate kit" in particular had me chuckling more than a few times with their self-deprecating humor and endless cat puns.
That same charm is seen visually in each of the four worlds you'll visit. From the vegan-friendly world of vegetables to the Halloweentown-esque Spookington, each area is laced with colorful visuals that are pleasing to the eyes, especially when played on a 4K TV.
It isn't without some technical hiccups, though. There are the occasional drops in frame rate during the more intense platforming sections, and almost guaranteed stuttering for a few seconds when a level first loads in. In the end, these problems had little effect on my progress, but it was a continuous annoyance.
Digging for Gold
Super Lucky's Tale's unique gameplay hook sees the titular hero able to dig underground, as holding down the right trigger causes Lucky to burrow under just about any soft terrain. This simple addition to the otherwise typical 3D platforming formula changes up the gameplay significantly — if you are having a hard time navigating around enemies, you can just dig underground and stealthily sneak under your foes to safety. Better yet, it even has usefulness in combat, allowing you to launch a sneak attack on unsuspecting foes. When the ground is too hard for you to dig beneath it, the ability can still be combined with jumping to create a sharp and swift dive mechanic.
Unfortunately, diving onto platforms or enemies is wonky in execution. Considering it is necessary for completing certain puzzles, it is annoying since you are unable to accurately predict where you will land. This could've been alleviated by allowing you to control Lucky using the D-Pad — which isn't used for anything at all — but it isn't an option.
However, the most frustrating gameplay aspect is the camera. Allowing you to rotate the camera completely around Lucky during 3D levels with the right thumbstick makes sense, but that isn't how it works in Super Lucky's Tale. Instead, the camera has four fixed angles that you use the right thumbstick to switch between.
Most of the time the camera design isn't a problem, but it does make finding collectables and items needed to complete a level an unnecessary hassle. Thankfully, the overall level design more than makes up for the camera issues.
A Tale of Two Levels
Each of the four main worlds have several levels to complete, granting you a four-leaf clover in the process. Similar to Super Mario Odyssey's Power Moons, finding Super Lucky's Tale's four-leaf clovers are your main motivation in the story. Accessing new levels and worlds require you to gain a specific number of them.
Almost every level is host to multiple four-leaf clovers for you to collect, most of which are totally optional. Though all four worlds already have a hub world, most levels play out like their own mini-hub. There is no timer, so you are free to explore every level for as long or little as you want.
They each have their own main objective, and Super Lucky's Tale is varied enough so that you are never doing the same thing twice. In one level you might have to find three robot heads to complete a golem so you can advance, while another time you are carrying a heavy object that disables your jump and digging abilities.
Though Super Lucky's Tale is very forgiving and created so that anyone can play it, the variation causes you to constantly think outside the box. Even within a single 3D level, you might find a hidden tunnel that leads to a 2D level with an optional four-leaf clover to find.
As fun as the 3D platforming is, the 2D levels are even more refined. The side-scrolling viewpoint fixes the camera issues and allows you to focus solely on the proper jump, hit, and digging gameplay that Super Lucky's Tale does so well. Many of the levels culminate in a boss fight that are just as enjoyable and unique as the preceding level.
In fact, Super Lucky's Tale continuously surprised me with every boss fight. For example, one would throw minions in-between groovy dance moves that I had launch back at him, while my personal favorite was actually impossible to win. Instead, I could only run from the speedy fire monster while carrying a robot that limited my movements severely.
Super Lucky's Tale can be completed in about four hours, but that's only if you skip all of the optional content. Though the main story is really short, there are a seemingly endless amount of collectables, levels and wonderful puzzles to complete even after you beat the story.
If you are an Xbox One owner that has been starving for a worthwhile 3D platformer, Super Lucky's Tale is for you. The graphics and characters are charming and goofy, while the mix between 2D and 3D levels are varied enough that you will never feel like you are doing the same thing twice.
Almost every moment of Super Lucky's Tale allows for the pure joy of platforming when you aren't annoyed by its limited camera. It's worth noting that the main game is extremely short to beat, but there are enough optional levels, puzzles and collectables to complete that will easily double or even triple your time with it.