Super Lucky’s Tale Review
Super Lucky’s Tale is a safe little children’s platformer made by Playful Corp, who also did that sandbox playbox thing Creativerse some time ago. It’s on consoles and on Steam, which is code for you’ll be wanting to use a gamepad.
Super Lucky’s Tale itself follows the adventure of Lucky, who reads one too many “Reading Is Cool” posters and gets gobbled up by the nearest encyclopedia, while this gang of cat-themed misfits called the “Kitty Litter” – you can groan if you want, I thought it was funny – show up and plan to do… something. I don’t really know. Probably take over the world.
Listen, just pick up all the bits n bobs and then go beat up the gang member at the end of the level, it’ll be fine.
This is a game for kids. 100% kid-aimed. Sometimes you just have to stand back, and appreciate that you are not remotely part of the demographic that a game is for. That’s fine, sometimes that’s just the case. In the case of Super Lucky’s Tale, their demographic is somewhere between five and ten. Aesthetic is leaning more towards five, and the gameplay is probably a bit closer to ten.
Are you part of that demographic? Well congratulations for your reading level. Else no, this game isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for a game to buy for a young one, well I did play through the whole thing.
For the gameplay, it’s a collectathon platformer. Exactly what you expect. You’ve got a doublejump, a simple spin attack, and a novel “burrowing” mechanic where the protagonist digs around for a bit for collectables. Used a couple of times to dig under gates, but stays firmly in the “novel” category, it’s firmly a run around and jump affair. Very simple and easy to grasp, controlled with something like 3 buttons and an analog stick.
Control wise, well it controls decently enough. There’s no physical momentum limit to when you can double-jump and Lucky will happily just climb up over edges. Burrowing propels the fox forward and there’s hard limits to where you can and can’t burrow, but you are slower while burrowing and there’s very few collectables or puzzles that use the system so it’s easily ignored.
The platforming is fairly forgiving, there’s not much in the way of timed puzzles or quick reactions required, but manages to avoid being entirely braindead. It does run on a life system, and falling off a platform is an instant loss of a life, so it’s not quite an edutainment game that plays itself.
Notably the camera operates on an arcade “switch” instead of being fully controlled. Think a marriage of a single-direction camera and Resident Evil 4’s side-glancing camera, except less absolute. The player can angle the camera on that single axis to see behind objects or generally get a better view but it’s mostly automated, and when one of the biggest barriers to new players getting into videogames is learning how to control a 3D camera, it’s that attentiveness to accessibility that works in its favour.
On collecting enough of the arbitrary things – four leafed clovers because the main character is called Lucky, good a reason as any – the door to the boss of the world is unlocked. Bosses are a couple of phases of avoiding cheap obstacles and voila, rinse and repeat.
Along with the platforming and simple combat, you’ve got novelty levels where you have a single goal – there’s some simple totem-sliding puzzles, a runner minigame of a level, and some ball-rolling maze levels. That’s about it, but they’re a nice break from getting unreasonably irritated at a children’s game because you can’t find the L totem in that one endgame level.
It’s fine, I found it.
Pro Tip: In “Loopy Lanterns”, try swirl-attacking some mushrooms to reveal the L Totem
There’s no character progression, Lucky starts and ends the game with the same amount of health tokens and moves, and the coins that you collect do nothing but give you extra lives. But there is world progression: with each world beaten, more NPCs and objects spawn in the hub worlds themselves, and earning each and every clover means you earn the incredible honour of making a hub world statue go a bit shinier!
Well I didn’t say it was good world progression.
It’s a bit rote. Not exactly pushing the envelope. Doesn’t commit any major sins, and all the characters you meet along the way are some endearing sort of archetype or stereotype and it combines to make a package that won’t frustrate or bore most children.
Aesthetic is a bit underwhelming. It starts off very saccharine, very doe-eyed, all that. And for a six to nine year old demographic, well they’re largely done with the pre-schooler aesthetic by then. And this game does pride itself on being “all-ages”, which is a bit of a myth. The biggest hurdle to it is those first few stages where it’s all bumblebee and caterpillar enemies while Pajama Sam in the cape babbles in preschooler speak every few seconds.
As it’s not a game that plays itself, pre-schoolers will probably have trouble with this one; since you’ve only got the three health points with a gameworld that can be downright stingy with giving you more – I’m not sure what happens when you run out of lives, but I’d trust it’d be a bit annoying for the younger lot trying to find out more. The aesthetic itself is just a tad alienating for the slightly older six to nine demographic, it’s pretty much just the four to six audience and inebriated games reviewers who’ll get through those first few stages.
We’re talking Nick Jr instead of Nickelodeon here. Slight jump.
Difficulty as a whole is pretty well managed for the six to nine age-range. Deaths set Pajama Sam back a minute or so, and as long as they have enough logical skills and mechanical aptitude to not continually die in the same spot for twenty minutes straight, they’ll easily get through most of it. There are a few minor spikes towards the end, but it’s well-balanced as a whole.
I was surprised by how not-cheap this game is. This is a bankrolled project, there’s a nice amount of production values; decent environments, everything is well and consistently animated, there were no major glitches or anything like that.
Environments that you and your fox lad traverse are all based around the four classical Greek elements: earth, farms, more dirt, and spooky carnival. About half the levels in each hub are “full 3D” – accounting for the inbuilt camera limitations – or 2D sidescroller, which are mercifully brief given the control simplicity.
Look, if you’re a platformer enthusiast and you’re looking for something new and experimental, there really isn’t anything here for you. If you’ve got a young child or sibling, you’re looking for a present and they’re not completely hooked on the same three iPad games, then alright. If they’re not allergic to the Dora the Explorer aesthetic, this is worth checking out.
I’ve tried to judge this game completely from the standpoint of someone looking to buy something for someone younger. Super Lucky’s Tale’s stumbles in regards for what it’s trying to be are minor and it succeeds at being an enjoyable romp for younger audiences to blast through.
It’s just what Super Lucky’s Tale trying to be has got a pretty small niche to fill.
Disclaimer: PC Aficionado was provided with a code for the purpose of this review. All thought and opinions expressed in the review are the writers own and are not influenced by the developer and/or publisher in anyway.
If you liked this Super Lucky’s Tale Review, feel free to check out more PC Aficionado reviews.
- Nicely Designed Levels
- High Production Values
- Proficient Mechanics
- For A Very Particular Subset Of Kids
- Overall Unsurprising