The Xbox One may seem like a weird platform for child-friendly platforming games, but I personally think it’s great the console has options for gamers of all ages and skill levels. It also doesn’t hurt to have a stress-free game to play every now and then in between your multiplayer shooters or a Dark Souls game here and there.
As a gaming dad, I love that these options exist and I appreciate having some games to play that my daughter can watch (or even try herself). As with Disneyland Adventures and Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure, I’ll have my daughter, Fé, chip in with some commentary here and there.
As with most platformers, the story is there to drive the main character, but you as a player usually aren’t too invested in it. When Lucky’s sister Lyra returns with the Book of Ages, the Kitty Litter, a family of villainous cats, tries to steal it from her. The book had other ideas however and sucked in the bad kitties and Lucky, who tried to save his sister. You then have to beat the different members of the Kitty Litter to be able to get out.
“I really like the orange squirrel, daddy! He’s cute. And those nasty kitties are mean, hurting those rock-people and nice little worms… Oh. And he has a blue cape too! Is he a superhero?!”
It’s not a squirrel, honey, it’s a fox, but he’ll teach those cats a lesson!
As with most platformers, you’ll also need to collect certain items before you’re allowed to move on. In Super Lucky’s Tale, the collectables of choice are clovers. A certain number of them will be needed each time before you can face the world’s boss.
The short: This is without a doubt the best-looking platformer I’ve played yet. Super Lucky’s Tale is just such a bright and wonderful looking game that you can’t help but feel a bit happier while playing it. The colours are vibrant and the edges are sharp. It’s a kids game, no doubt, and they arguably care less about graphics than some of us adults do. But playing this game on your Xbox One X and 4K/HDR TV just feels like it validates your purchase of those pricey devices.
The worlds are full of things to discover and it motivated me to explore every nook and cranny. Around every corner, there is something new to witness or a little detail that made it worth checking out.
It’s just a shame there are only 4 worlds and you’ll have run through all of them in no time at all.
“Don’t jump in the water, daddy! I think they could still have someplace left in their bellies for a little fox!”
The sound direction is perfect for this type of game: The background music is often uplifting, lucky’s cheerful expressions makes it sound as if he’s enjoying himself and I’m genuinely addicted to the sound effect of collecting coins. They also used the famous mumbling sounds that have become somewhat iconic since the days of Banjo-Kazooie, but to great effect.
“I really liked how the ghosts speak: ‘Boobooberloo. Boob-boo!’ …and they’re not scary at all. They’re friendly ghosts like Casper!”
I don’t have a single complaint other than a major technical one: more than once, I experienced the sound cutting out completely: no sound effects, no music, nothing. The first time I experienced it, restarting the game seemed to fix the issue. But every subsequent occurrence had me soft resetting my console entirely just to resolve the issue. It always seemed to happen when I started or stopped a recording just when a sound effect was programmed to play, so if you’re never recording footage; you may not experience this issue at all.
Here’s where Lucky truly deserves a lot of praise! I personally enjoy 3D platforms a great deal, but at the same time, I fret playing them because I just know there will be moments where I’ll be biting down on my controller in frustration. I can’t name a single other one where there wasn’t an instance that I was about ready to throw in the towel on a level. Frustrated beyond compare at my own lack of skill or the game’s camera controls. But not so with Super Lucky’s Tale: I never felt cheated by the games controls or camera angles and I could always pinpoint where Lucky would land after a jump. It made for a relatively stress-free playthrough and I applaud them for their achievement.
Except for the aforementioned technical issues and this:
“I’ve learned a few new bad words from daddy as he was playing this. But I’m not supposed to tell mommy! Ssssh”
The game tries to change things up a little every now and then and throws some challenges at you: some side-scrolling endless runner levels (Fun!), some sliding puzzles (fun and not too difficult), a few 2D levels (great for variation) and then the abomination pictured above (you’ll have to be patient and have perfect control over the analog stick). I appreciate that they threw in some extra elements though, as the main gameplay itself never really changes: Lucky starts the game with exactly the same skill-set as what he’ll end with:
- Jump + Double Jump
- Swipe your tail
- Burrow in dirt/grass
I’ve maybe grown too accustomed to skill-based progression, but personally I regretted not being able to unlock new abilities to then go back to previous levels and access places that were previously out of my reach. It would have given the game some much-needed longevity. It does help that each level is interesting in its own right and even without extra things to unlock, there were a few I played through again, just for the fun of it.
“I like the glowing ghost-buddies. They’d make great nightlights!”
Each level does have multiple things that encourage exploring. You’ll have 4 clovers to collect and they’re always earned the same way:
- One for beating the level
- One for finding all the letters: L U C K Y (and sometimes you need to do something special to find one)
- One for doing something specific to the level (these have the most variation)
- And one for collecting 300 coins
The last one is what ended up giving me the most question marks above my head. I quickly understood that collecting 300 coins in a level gets you a clover, but until now I still have no idea why you’re able to collect coins in the main worlds and what their purpose is. I’ve collected over 16.000 coins so far and there isn’t a single thing to spend them on. It kind of makes them feel meaningless.
Lastly the game is on the easy side. I personally don’t hold this against it as I can enjoy a less challenging game every now and then and it’s great for younger children that they can finish a game without the aid of their parent. Though Fé is still too young and seems to be drawn to deadly pits like a magnet is drawn to metal… (Fé: Hey! That’s mean!”)
Super Lucky’s Tale is a frustration-free experience that holds your attention for as long as it lasts. The Controls are damn near perfect, the Visuals are pretty to look at and the soundtrack is uplifting. This is a game you don’t want to miss out on no matter your age, but the youngest among us will get the most fun out of it. If only it had just a bit more content to make for a longer lifespan…