November 08, 2017

Super Lucky’s Tale - Review

When Xbox debuted this game during their E3 presentation, the people I was sitting with laughed and I did as well, it is so different to anything else they presented, it was hard to imagine what they were thinking. Sadly, the same line of questioning can be applied to why it was released as it was.

The game has you playing as the titular character Lucky, who while fishing peacefully discovers his sister crashes her plane and when he finds her, she has discovered the Book of Ages and as she explains what the book is capable of, the evil Jinx arrives. Jinx and his minions, known as the Kitty Litter (yes that is the name they went with) are trying to take the book, so they can rewrite the world as they see fit, however when the book is opened, everyone is about to be sucked in, but Lucky pushes his sister out of the way and ends up taken into the worlds within the book. The game is a sequel to the Oculus Rift release called Lucky’s Tale, so if things don’t make sense, it is not just you, however the problem is none of the members of the Kitty Litter are that memorable and by the time I got to Jinx, I was so disinterested in the story, it mattered very little to me.

In terms of gameplay, the game is really more akin to the mascot platformers of the late 90’s, with hub worlds, that open into playable stages and lots of things to collect. Each stage contains many clovers to find and you need to collect a set amount to gain access to the boss level, keeping the progression at a constant pace. Within each stage there are four ways to get a clover, you can beat the level, collect all the letters to spell Lucky, collect a number of coins or locate the hidden area and the clover within. Collecting all of them will require a lot of patience and effort as some of them can be hard to meet the requirements of and that brings me to the bad part of the game.

Controlling Lucky is not too bad, move the left stick and off he goes, the problem is that he is floaty, even when on the ground, so moving him requires more finesse than your average platformer. Lucky has a pretty cool move, that lets him dive into dirt and burrow underground, this lets you dislodge rocks and stuff, that in turn give you more coins, but for some reason, when you are underground, Lucky is always moving. While that would not be a terrible thing for some games, with how floaty he feels when moving at any time, not having the option to stop, going underground is always a risky proposition. When jumping, a core part of any platformer, Lucky moves still not quite right, his double jump does next to nothing and he is still very floaty, which is not a good thing when asking for precision.

Now, none of the movement issues would be a concern if the levels themselves accounted for the shortcomings, but they do not, in each level, there was always something that was placed poorly, which lead to issues. The initial stages are more about giving you the time to adjust the controls and learning the moves, the problem is there are so many narrow walk ways and large gaps to jump, that you must already understand the controls, to survive. Some of the games stages take place in a more compacted space, rather than an open world and they can be a challenge to navigate as well, however the worst stages are any that lock Lucky to the 2d view point. These stages, which are frequent enough, do make things different and help break up the 3d roaming, the problem is that each and every stage that is 2d, the only things that are locked are Lucky and the enemies, which manes background elements, coins and other items are not. Some background elements are fine, as they will move towards the foreground, providing things to watch out for, the coins and items though, is not welcome as they will be just off the line that Lucky is locked to, meaning you can’t collect them, as you can only go left to right.

The other issue with the movement and levels is that the enemies have much larger hit boxes than you might expect, with some enemies actually shooting projectiles through themselves to get you. I can’t begin to count the number of times that I would attempt to attack or jump on an enemy, only to find myself being hurt, because they were able to shoot me. It is very rare for me to get a game over screen these days, challenging games like Dark Souls notwithstanding, but I lost all my lives here more than once and while the game just resets you back to the start of the level you are in, with more lives, it is a problem.

The games presentation is a mixed bag, it is part cartoon and part stylised and it works, the characters and enemies all have a look to them, that stands out. The levels are generally laid out well with hidden alcoves and such to discover, if you get off the beaten path, however the camera does not work, rather than provide full control, the camera is limited to three positions. The character designs are sadly the weakest part, Lucky is a fox, but looks more akin to a cheap Conker knock off, and the members of the Kitty Litter are very basic in their looks.

Sadly the looks are not the only part that suffer, the sounds that they make are pretty bad, Tess being the standout. Rather than speaking in words, or even random grunts, all the cats speak in this weird series of meows and with Tess, she applies a snobbish American teen girl spin to it, and after the first time she finished speaking, I had to ensure I never heard it again. The music is there, none of the tracks stood out to me, but what I can recall was not bad.

Super Lucky’s Tale is not a broken game it’s just not polished enough, the controls feel unfinished, the levels are uninspired and the worst part, its wrapped up in a story and with characters that are not worth bothering about. If you are in need for a game for your kids, you would have better luck getting any compatible Xbox 360 game instead, rather than this.

Review copy provided by Xbox

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