There’s no way to just get diabetes in your hands, is there? Like you touch or play something so sweet that the sugars osmose through your cells and just sap the insulin straight out? I feel like I’d have read about that somewhere if it was real. Just to be safe, let me get out all my thoughts and feels about Super Lucky’s Tale before my tongue has to take typing classes.
I didn’t know it was possible but developer Playful Corp has made a quality platformer that’s more kid-friendly than Mario. Seriously, wasn’t this combination outlawed during the 1998 United Nations Peace Accords? I specifically remember the UNPA person, dressed as Leonardo from TMNT as is tradition, laying out the groundwork: you could have a game based on Sesame Street or similar that was bad, or you could make one with a slightly-edgy mascot and it could be good. Someone obviously didn’t lawyer up before this game was created.
But super seriously, this is a platformer that checks off every box you can think of with a colorful world, a mobile character, and currency in all sorts of crevices. You are a little-brother fox named Lucky who’s trying to find your own adventure that ends up getting sucked into a chapter book world with a team of frisky felines called Kitty Litter. I can hardly believe I’m typing this, but the absolute highlight of the story for me are the voices: pesudo-English Simlish mixed with the throaty grunts of Banjo-Kazooie. The text in the bubbles is even written well with some timing aligned with the ridiculous anamorphic crew as they grunt in sweet, sarcastic, or dark tones that give them personality and you a smile.
The story is part Spyro mixed with Glover, the gameplay is Mario with sprinkles of Donkey Kong and Crash, the cast is Banjo-Kazooie and Blinx; the parallels are unmistakable but well used. There are overworld hubs with plenty of coin-based secrets to be found along with the “stars” of the show, four-leaf clovers. These are linear islands in design with level gates littered along the path that are unlocked as you complete the former level. Each world is varied in colors with simple music that gets the job done for the most part.
Ultimate seriously, this is exactly the game that Yooka-Laylee should have been: A mix of genre greats and advancements that come into a modern shell where the layers and boundaries of the world feel like places you’d naturally never want to test. One of the massive reasons Super Lucky’s Tale held my attention while Yooka-Laylee couldn’t hold my pocket change on the corner is the camera. Lucky allows for swings of about 30 degrees at a time for you to see around the restrictedly 3D levels. It follows you perfectly and swings on command, leaving just enough angles to show what could be lurking behind a barrel.
The trade-off of everything Super Lucky’s Tale does well is that the difficulty couldn’t set the bar lower if it tried and the design of most levels certainly appropriates to that. What’s there, design-wise, is still done well with simple puzzles and platforming challenges littering most of the horderve-sized courses. The sandbags are in full effect though as nothing is ever truly a secret or feels gratifying to collect. You could make a bingo card out of where the game is pointing to secrets being present from decades-old tropes. Basically, if you’ve played a platformer before, you’ll 100 percent this in no time. To quantify the issue of difficulty, I knocked out 50 percent of the clovers in about an hour and a half and lost less than 5 lives along the way – 4 suicides for kicks, 1 from a dickhead bee.
There are a handful of other straws that certainly bow the camel’s back slightly, but none that truly break Super Lucky’s tale. Coins are the lifeblood of collectibles, which is to say they’re basically the only collectible and they feel neutered as a result. You’ll head into every level looking for 300 to grab a clover, then you just have a horde of gold coins to do very little with. There are different outfits that offer no boons or changes beyond cosmetic, for what that’s worth. I also came to rely upon the shadow to line up my landing, not an unheard of tactic in platforming, but that would glitch out in the middle of a jumpfest from time to time. The last sizable point against is the wide turning radius Lucky has in his burrowing state. You can unearth coins and chests while holding the right trigger but with some timed challenges leaving no time to waste, the wide turn is not your ally.
Super Lucky’s Tale is one of the best callbacks to the deific platform idols of the past and didn’t even need a Kickstarter to do it. I wish there was more on top of the steady bones and beautifully colored world. I wish the cute worm creatures would sing at my wedding. Luckily, I definitely don’t have to wish for a refund of time and energy because this little fox delivered on the majority of his potential.
Super Lucky’s Tale Score: