Mascot platformers have been making a bit of a resurgence in the past few years. Long time favorites like Mario and Sonic are still going strong, and a few indie darlings have entered the fray as well like A Hat in Time and Yooka-Laylee. 3D Platformers went out of fashion for a little while, but now they’re with full force. Back in 2016, a virtual reality game called Lucky’s Tale was released for the Oculus Rift. The game eventually got a sequel called Super Lucky’s Tale for the Xbox One. And then an enhanced version of that was released for the Nintendo Switch called New Super Lucky’s Tale in 2019. And this year, the game is more accessible than ever as New Super Lucky’s Tale has made its way onto all other modern consoles.
In New Super Lucky’s Tale you play as Lucky Swiftail, the plucky young fox who is called to action when the powerful cat sorcerer Jinx attacks and tries to steal the Book of Ages, a magic tome that can do whatever the game needs it to be able to do. Lucky is able to use the book to travel between different worlds and his main goal is to recover all of the book’s missing pages while stopping Jinx and his child army known as the Kitty Litter. New Super Lucky’s Tale feels right at home as a 3D platformer. You’ve got big hub worlds that you can run around, and those contain portals to individual levels. These worlds range from tropical beaches to haunted carnivals, and while the worlds may jump around a bit, they never once feel out of place.
In each level, Lucky has to collect four clovers that go into the book of ages. You get one for simply completing the stage, one for finding the individual letters to spell out the word “LUCKY”, one for collecting enough coins, and a secret one that can be found through proper exploration. Like most platform mascots, Lucky can run around and jump, but to defend himself he has a tail whip attack. My favorite mechanic is definitely Lucky’s burrowing move where he dives below the dirt and basically swims around it like a dolphin with his tail sticking out. He even has a nice arching jump when he pops back out. You can’t burrow into every surface, but the mechanic feels great to use, especially in the auto-running stages where you can pull off the perfect combination of jumps and dives to collect everything. It’s very satisfying.
For better or worse, the main thing worth mentioning about New Super Lucky’s Tale is that it’s very easy. In fact, it’s one of the easiest platformers I’ve ever played in my entire life. If you’re looking for a real challenge, you’re probably not going to find it here except for the Guardian Trial levels you unlock in the post-game. The boss fights themselves feel especially lackluster at times, most notably in the early worlds. Personally, I’m fine with a game being on the easier side, so long as I’m having fun in the process, and I definitely was with New Super Lucky’s Tale. There’s a lot of fun to be had in exploring and finding those secret pages and earning those coins. One major advantage of playing this port is the inclusion of trophies and achievements. Many of these are just related to completing the story, but you’ve got extra incentives to try out different things like destroying sand castles or beating a difficult challenge without getting hit.
New Super Lucky’s Tale features a lot of improvements over the original title; with one of the most notable being full 360 control of the camera. Many levels were retooled and reworked from the ground up, and the lead director on the project said this final version was much more in line with what he’d originally envisioned for the game. I’m glad that they were able to create the project because they’ve got something special on their hands.
Lucky is a wonderful character. He’s young and wide-eyed and views everything with a sense of wonder that never comes across as naivety. His expressions are vibrant and he’s typically shown with a big smile on his face, and with the fun gameplay and interesting themes, it’s certainly contagious. One of my personal favorite levels is in the second world. Lucky is tasked with finding the missing members of a band called the Soggy Boggy Boys so they can perform at a harvest festival for a bunch of worms. And those worms just love their vegetable puns. Little characters moments like this and the loading screen dialogue from your friendly neighborhood Mail Golem are immensely cute and memorable.
Aside from the open roaming 3D levels, New Super Lucky’s Tale occasionally dives into other genres, most notably auto-runners, moving block puzzles, and even a few stages where you roll around in a big marble. While these aren’t always as enjoyable as the main bread and butter of the game, they never outstay their welcome, and they are done in a way that feels fun and natural to what we’re doing. New Super Lucky’s Tale definitely tackles the multi-genre approach a bit better than the recently reviewed Battletoads.
Aside from the four clovers in each stage, the main collectable in New Super Lucky’s Tale are the costumes, and you can unlock these by completing specific objectives or by buying them from NPCs in the various hub worlds. Being able to mix and match Lucky’s tops and bottoms is a nice option to have. My personal favorite is the hot dog vendor outfit that you get from finding all the secret hot dog buckets in the Guardian Trials. It’s a cute costume, but is also your reward for clearing the hardest challenge this game has to offer. Which as I mentioned earlier, isn’t actually all that hard.
New Super Lucky’s Tale is a great entry to the platforming genre from beginning players, or just fans of the genre looking for a more relaxing and stress free platform experience. With the new ports out for every major system, the game is more accessible than ever and well worth playing through. There’s even a post credits cutscene that seems to give us a premise for a possible sequel, so now is the perfect time to grab the game for yourself and get on board for whatever fantastic tales Lucky may have for us, new or super or otherwise.
John reviewed New Super Lucky’s Tale on PlayStation 4 with a personally purchased copy. The game is also available on Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.