Can one cute fox save the Book of Ages from the Kitty Litter and reinvigorate the love of 3D platformers while he’s at it?!
The Luckiest of Charms
As a gaming community, I’m sure many of us have encountered the word “nostalgia” a few times here and there. Heck, it’s what keeps us collectors going and the reason we tend to spend exorbitant amounts of money on things that we probably shouldn’t spend it on. I fully admit to falling into that category and stand by it with my head held high! One look at Super Lucky’s Tale and it’s apparent that Playful Corp. is trying to pull on those nostalgia heart strings.
Most notably Super Lucky’s Tale takes me back to the much simpler times of the mid 90’s and the release of the Nintendo 64. You see, back then, all we wanted to do was collect large swaths of random items, interact with weird polygonal creatures, and and exercise our shoddy depth perception by falling into the same pit over and over again. Playful Corp and Super Lucky’s Tale accomplishes this magnificently!! For better or worse.
You see, there were definitely attempts over the years to bring back that N64 3D platformer feel and with varying success. The reboot of Banjo Kazooie on the Xbox 360 for instance was just OK, and I heard the same about Yooka Laylee. But the real question is, are we just looking at this genre with googly, sparkly anime eyes? Do games like this still hold up today and can devs like Playful Corp. really give us what we want?
Well, the only thing we can really do is dive right in to the colorful and cute world of Super Lucky’s Tale and collect all the puzzle pieces, coins and the billions of other collectables to 100% that question!!
More is not always Better
I’m just going to be upfront and admit that up until a recent playthrough of Banjo Kazooie with my son, I never really put in much time with these games despite my fondness for them, aside from Super Mario 64 that is. When I did get to play them I would have a blast, but I would quickly tire of the whole “I needed to collect approximately 10 quintillion items” to even make a dent. It was overwhelming, and frankly, I had no patience for it, even if one of those games featured my beloved Donkey Kong. I’d much rather waste my tens of hours grinding for levels in an RPG…
At no point did I feel that way about Super Lucky’s Tale though. I mean it had all the trappings of your typical platformer of that generation with it’s running, jumping, bouncing off of enemies and collecting items throughout each world. However all these things were paired down to the bare essentials. This may sound like a bad thing on the surface, but not all things need to be complicated and have massive D&D style stat sheets and skill trees to be fun. The fact that there were only two sets of items to collect in each stage, lucky clovers and letters to spell the word “lucky”, and that each stage was short and simple was a welcome reprieve from your typical game of the modern era.
Shortest Distance Between Two Points
In Super Lucky’s Tale you are tasked with trying to steal back The Book of Ages from the nefarious Jinx and his litter of kitties, the Kitty Litter (that’s right, that’s the gang’s name). While trying to protect his sister, Lucky is sucked into the book (which has the power to open “doors” to other dimensions) and must defeat each of the kitties in the Kitty Litter, as well as Jinx himself, to escape.
Like Super Mario 64 or Banjo Kazooie, Super Lucky’s Tale is broken up into distinct hub worlds (four total). Each of which are then segmented into a number of stages. In order to progress throughout each world you’ll need to collect Lucky Clovers to unlock the doors preventing you from entering them and finally defeat the boss at the final door of each hub to move on to the next world.
As I mentioned earlier, the game is simple, straightforward and linear, and really there isn’t much to be said about the gameplay mechanics either. The controls can feel a little loose and the perspective can throw your depth perception off, which can certainly be wholly frustrating. The game’s framerate felt inconsistent at best and the game froze and crashed on me more than once as well, but really it’s nothing you can’t get through. Especially if you grew up with 3D platformers from mid 90’s.
The only real thing that breaks up the standard “climb the ladder to the next stage” bit, are the few puzzle stages you unlock, which weren’t much of a challenge, but were still fun. What Super Lucky’s Tale lacks in complexity though, it more than makes up for with its charm and cuteness. Which is probably why my son loved it so much. My only real complaint about this portion of the game, and I only complain because it was such a joy to play, was that it just felt way too short. Not to mention the fifth and final world was locked behind DLC! On top of that, it had its achievements hardwired into the base game!! Good luck getting that pristine 1000 points without having to fork over the extra $4.99…Poppycock!!!
Just Like You Remember?
What’s a game of this type without ooey gooey eye candy as well, and from start to finish Super Lucky’s Tale exudes sticky sweet cuteness, bright colors and high polish. All of the characters and enemies are all well designed, fun and give enough variety to keep you interested as you trudge through each stage. And to add to the charm, goofy sounds (mimicking some incoherent language) play as text scrolls in a character’s speech bubble while they’re talking to you. Which doesn’t leave much room for dialog critique but I loved it nonetheless!
The detail found throughout each world and their environment were impressive and reminded me of the distinctive bubbly charm you would find in Rare games on the N64. Well, they reminded me of what I remember a Nintendo 64 game looking like, not what it actually looks like when you try and play one today. You know, with a little less fog and fuzz and a lot more detail. The stages have good flow and were fun to explore while I tried to hunt down the collectibles. At no point did I ever feel like I was lost either, which is a huge plus in favor of Playful Corp.’s design skills.
Outside of the beautiful visuals though, the ingame music didn’t really do much for me. Most of the music was forgettable and try as I might I couldn’t sing a single tune from the game. It never really felt out of place, nor did it make me feel like I needed to play the game with the volume all the way down, it just lacked presence. Which is really too bad because this was always one of my favorite things in games of this genre.
So, the big question really is, should you play Super Lucky’s Tale? Well, that’s a tough question because it really depends on your tolerance to ultra simple and cutesy 3D platformers. If you have young kids, then this is a great choice and would be a fantastic game to play with them. It’s easy, short and colorful. If you grew up in the generation this game is trying to solicit to and you’re in the mood for a blast from the past, which also doesn’t require much effort, then go for it. It definitely has that in spades! But if you need complexity and challenge in your life and prefer stocky Italian plumbers to anthropomorphic foxes then I’d stay clear.
If I sit and mull over my time with Super Lucky’s Tale, I’d say I had fun and wouldn’t hesitate to pick it up and play it again. But really, when compared to some of the other games out there that try to invoke the platforming days of yore, I’d say this one was just ok. Super fun, but just ok.
What are some of your favorite 3D platformers? Would you say the genre has stood the test of time or should be left in the past?