Super Lucky’s Tale Review: Fractured fairy tale

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The protagonist of Super Lucky’s Tale has some surprising charm but that’s hardly enough to overcome its massive flaws.

Developer: Playful Corp
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: Xbox One (version reviewed), PC
Release Date: November 7th, 2017

While 2D platformers certainly thrive on the indie scene these days, one genre that seems to be in massive decline the last decade or so is the 3D mascot platformer. Sure, Nintendo still puts out masterpieces on the semi-regular starring their mustachioed mascot, but otherwise, it’s slim pickings for anyone who enjoyed the days when you had a plethora of the genre to choose from, especially for someone who owns an Xbox console. Xbox has tried in the past to have their own equivalent to Mario with games like the Blinx series and Kameo: Elements of Power. Super Lucky’s Talethough not completely exclusive to Xbox (but what is, anymore?), is a console exclusive that is unabashedly a throwback to the times when 3D platformers were just about everywhere you look. And unfortunately, it’s very reminiscent of the large majority of forgettable ones.

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The setup for Super Lucky’s Tale is that Lucky, our protagonist, is a young Fox whose sister gets trapped in a magical storybook. Lucky ventures into the storybook to find her and, of course, stop the evil villain who wants to use the storybook to change the world. The villains’ minions are all cat-themed, and the game leans hard into its feline puns. One of the main villains is named Kitty Litter, the dialogue (none of which is spoken) consistently has lines like “the Mew-shu arts.” It’s corny, but I also found it kind of oddly charming because you don’t often see games that are this unabashedly so.

Our hero Lucky is charming as well. You get the feeling he is just having a fun adventure in Super Lucky’s Tale. He even often tells you, “C’mon,” when you come back to the game in a “Welcome back, we’ve been waiting for you to join in on the fun” sort of way. The world, while a bit generic, is also colorful and bright. This game actually has a lot of ingredients that should be a basis for a surprisingly good time. Unfortunately, once you start actually playing the game, that promise all falls apart very quickly.

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As I mentioned, Super Lucky’s Tale has a bright and colorful look, yet it’s still kind of bland as far as visuals go. And it’s a budget ($30) title so that in itself doesn’t bother me too much. But this also looks like a game that shouldn’t tax an Xbox 360, much less an Xbox One. And yet, the game hitches all the time quite noticeably, often to the point where it can throw off your timing on jumping and attacking. I’ve heard this problem is lessened on an Xbox One S, and on an Xbox One X, Super Lucky’s Tale actually runs perfectly well. But this should not be a game that has issues running a regular Xbox One. There’s nothing particularly impressive about anything the game is trying to do graphically.

This game would’ve benefited from showering you in clovers and letting you move from level to level as you pleased.

Super Lucky’s Tale does have a surprising variety of gameplay. There are 3D levels where you can simply get to the end or complete tasks within the level, 2D levels, and levels that are quick minigames such as a statue placement puzzle or a game where you roll around like a marble and try to get to the goal. The minigames are for better or worse the best part of the gameplay. They manage to be fun by eschewing the majority of what you are spending the rest of time doing, jumping around.

And for a game that should be built around that very idea, the jumping is just terrible. Not only is the jumping itself really floaty and often leads to misjudging jumps because of this, but the camera in the 3D levels just exacerbates the problem all the more. You can’t really rotate it like you should be able to, so often you are not able to see from very crucial angles. This makes a lot of jumping a guessing game not just for making it from one platform to the next, but dodging enemies as well, resulting in a lot of cheap hits and deaths. Frankly, the camera is the most challenging foe in Super Lucky’s Tale.

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Still, all those problems aren’t actually the biggest downfall of Super Lucky’s Tale. I haven’t tried to compare this to GOTY contender Super Mario Odyssey because that’s silly. It’s far less ambitious, and that is fine. But one aspect that begs immediate comparison, however, is your main collectibles.

In Super Mario Odyssey, you collect moons, and you must get a certain amount of moons to mover forward in the game. In Super Lucky’s Tale, it has a similar aspect; you are just collecting lucky clovers instead of moons. The key difference here is in how it’s handled, and Super Lucky’s Tale does it in an extremely monotonous way. While the actual requirement for moons in Super Mario Odyssey is low and they are just constantly piling moons on you from every direction and doing different activities to get them all the time, Super Lucky’s Tale is far more conservative in its handing out of clovers. And yet, you need the vast majority of the 99 clovers in the game in order to proceed past any stages.

This results in a ton of backtracking through the same areas repeatedly to do the same three or four tasks in every level, such as trying to collect a bunch of coins and diamonds or getting letters that spell out “Lucky,” and it’s just incredibly monotonous. This game would’ve benefited from showering you in clovers and letting you move from level to level as you pleased. Instead, this just artificially pads the game out in one of the worst possible fashions.

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When it comes to mascot platformers, basically if you don’t own a Nintendo console, your choices are extremely limited. Even with its rather generic look and feel, Super Lucky’s Tale could’ve been a nice surprise that would at least be something you could enjoy with your kids or a younger relative. Instead, its more like those bargain titles your grandparents would sometimes find at a department store and just buy you for your birthday or Christmas because they don’t really know any better.

5.0. <em>Super Lucky’s Tale</em> had potential to be the good kind of throwback 3D mascot platformer you don’t see any more. But a terrible camera, shoddy jumping and awful forced padding squander it completely, leaving Lucky to once again join the graveyard of forgettable video game mascots.. Playful Corp. . Super Lucky's Tale

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.