Poor Lucky. Not only does it seem as though the sweet little fox has been heavily focus tested in a room full of cheerfully over-protective parents, he’s also been sucked into a magical book called the Book Of Ages – along with a bunch of villainous feline criminals known as the Kittie Litter (yes, really), and it’s up to him to stop them across a variety of different worlds hidden within the pages.
Lucky can do most of the things you’d expect from a 3D platform hero, whether that’s jumping on heads or swiping things with his tail. He can also burrow underground too which is slightly more unique, and it’s this ability that also lets him head down pipes – wait, I mean foxholes – to head into previously inaccessible areas.
So Lucky isn’t exactly the most original platformer. Whether you’re picking up the golden pawprint coins, grabbing the large lucky clover at the end of a level, or finding the hidden letters that spell LUCKY in each area, these are all ideas here that you’ve seen many times before.
It all looks beautiful mind you, especially in 4K on Xbox One X, and your adorable fox character interacts with an array of equally adorable characters. The first level you come to features a bunch of short, large-eyed stone golems, overseen by a huge golem you have to wake
Besides the odd technical hiccup, including the frame rate dragging its feet when the screen gets a touch too lively in the 2D sections, my key problem was Lucky’s platforming skills. He feels just too grounded for my liking, with even his double jump barely allowing him to get above flying enemies, while his ability to cling to the edge of ledges and pull himself up can be both a blessing and a curse.
Though you can pivot the camera, it’s not full 3D, meaning there are times where you simply can’t see properly. Things are worsened by the moments that see the action move to a distant plane in the background, and you have to try and guide a small Lucky across equally small, often moving, platforms. It’s here that I found the majority of my fails happened, and though plentiful checkpoints should help to keep your controller in your hand and not in pieces on the floor.
With a touch of the old school platforming genre, you begin with five lives, each with three hearts. In each level you might be able to earn extra hearts or lives, but if you repeatedly die you’re packed off to the start of the level again, stripped of any progress whatsoever unless you have reached a checkpoint. It’s a very old-school approach for what looks and feels like a children’s game, and it’s deeply annoying to have made your way through all of the challenges and found the hidden pickups, only to fall at the final hurdle and have to do it all again.
Despite its super family friendly looks, Super Lucky’s Tale is more than capable of offering up a stiff challenge. From racing after special coins – which is admittedly lifted wholesale from the Mario franchise – to making your way carefully through hazardous platforming areas, there’s definitely some fun to be had in successfully navigating your way to the end of a level, even if it doesn’t often feel all that surprising. Having said that, there are some very interesting boss moments, which may not put up that much of a fight if you’re a serious platform fan, but do plenty to capture your imagination, as well as endless runner levels called Burrow Runs that mix things up a touch.
Super Lucky’s Tale is a charming indie platformer that provides hours of retro platforming joy. It’s probably had far too much weight put upon its shoulders as the Xbox One X’s sole launch title, and is by no means perfect; a fact that’s been amplified by the recent antics of a dungaree-wearing plumber. However, while the genre has undoubtedly moved on, taken on its own merit Super Lucky’s Tale is simple, inescapable fun.