There is some truth to the old adage ‘Too much of a good thing’ and in gaming the months leading into Christmas are as I like to call it, the ‘Silly Season’ in video gaming where multiple big AAA titles are released on a weekly basis from huge blockbuster shooters to RPGs and sports titles. But this year there is a very welcome surprise for Xbox players in the form of Super Lucky’s Tale and even better is the fact it is an actual Xbox Exclusive….remember those?
I have always said that the Xbox One platform and now the Xbox One X, has needed more exclusives and not just focusing on their main big hitters like Forza, Gears of War or even HALO. With so many genres of gaming out there, some effort to reach into them and create new and fresh titles for Xbox players to enjoy always seems to be an afterthought with the main peeps up in the Xbox Towers. So when Super Lucky’s Tale was shown at this year’s E3 Xbox briefing it instantly grabbed my attention. I loved the colourful platformers of yesteryear like Spyro the Dragon, Crash Bandicoot and Mario but the Xbox has been very slow to delve into this genre. These games can be fun and challenging and a really nice alternative to the more mature titles of shooters and sports games out this time of year.
We are first introduced to Lucky thanks to an opening cinematic narrated by Lucky’s sister Lyra who explains that her family are adventurers known as Guardians and on her return from her own adventure to find the powerful ‘Book of Ages’, is set upon by the evil Jinx and his family gang known as the Kitty Litter. The Book of Ages suddenly springs to life and sucks in all those around it but Lucky then pushes his sister out of the way and is transported inside the book. This book has the power to change reality and now Lucky must become the Guardian he has longed to be and defeat the evil Jinx and his family to save the book and also return home.
What hits you right away is just how bright and colourful the world of Super Lucky’s Tale is with a very cute animation style and character designs that instantly make you smile just to be in that world. It welcomes the player in right away, makes them feel at home and hits you with the full on cuteness from the very moment you take control of Lucky. As you start running and jumping around the opening tutorial area you really transported into this world and it is a world that is definitely aimed for a younger audience but as a grown up, I could not help but smile whilst playing this. The music and audio compliment the visuals so well with really smooth fun animation of the world and those in it that it is just a really charming place to be.
Control wise well there is nothing really groundbreaking here and everything is kept very simple for easy to pick up gameplay. Lucky can jump and double jump and can spin to use his tail to whack enemies who can also be defeated by jumping on their head. Lucky is a 3D platformer game but the different levels have a nice variety in that some will even switch to 2D side scrolling or rather nice if simple puzzle mini-games for the player to solve. There are four worlds for Lucky to work through and each on has one of the Kitty Litter serving as the boss for that world. Levels are locked out until Lucky collects the right amount of 4 leaf clovers in order to progress further. There are 99 Clovers in total to collect but only 80 are needed to trigger the end game and boss fight, with four ways of obtaining clovers. The first is the natural completion of that level whilst the other three focus on the collect everything side of traditional side to this genre of gaming such as collecting 300 gold coins will give you a clover, solving the mystery of the level and finding all the letters that spell out ‘Lucky’. Progression can be delayed until you collect enough Clovers to open more levels and especially later on you will certainly need to revisit previous levels in order to find the clovers you may have missed. This can feel a little grindy as returning to a level will see all of its enemies, coins and dialogue with characters return but there is certainly quite a lot to do in this game which with a completion time between 6-8 hours is really good value when you consider the pricing for Super Luck’s Tale at only £19.99 both digital and physical.
As wonderful as I found the game it certainly does have some issues starting with the camera, which annoyingly for a game set mainly in a 3D environment is astoundingly locked to just three angles. With the right stick you can move the camera to the left, centre and the right to help see what is in front of Lucky as he tries to navigate the 3D environment but it never really feels natural and more often than not, it is a nuisance not being able to a free 360 rotation on the camera. What makes this even more of an issue are the clumsy controls especially when you have to time your jumps to get past an obstacle, reach a higher platform or even just to judge the jump to take out an enemy. The sheer number of times I thought I had lined up the perfect jump only to either end up missing the enemy completely or to just fall off the edge to my death is enough for me to really pray that an update addresses this. To make it worse, when Lucky does die the onscreen lives counter with a very unhappy and shocked face of Lucky before you respawn is heartbreaking to see each time.
But with all that said, quite frankly Super Lucky’s Tale is just super fun to play and again, the pricing of it makes it accessible to so many that as someone who grew up with this genre of gaming, to have one finally on the Xbox One, even with its more annoying issues is still a joy. This is exactly what Microsoft and Xbox need to be doing, focusing on bringing such games like Super Lucky’s Tale to console to broaden their line up of exclusives. I love the story and simplicity that makes it so easy to pick up and play for gamers of all skill levels and ages and it really is just a breath of fresh air and a reason to smile and feel some genuine happy joyful moments whilst playing.
Though Super Lucky’s Tale is far from the perfect polished game it really should have been on release, the smiles from playing it outnumber the issues it has and for just £19.99 it is a superb game to end the gaming year with and it truly is something the Xbox platform both needed and needs more of going forward.