What is your gaming comfort food? That genre you keep coming back to when you just want to zone out and chill for a bit? For many it’s online FPSs, others like annual sports titles or racing games, but for me, it’s 3D action platformers. Games in the vein of Mario 64 feel like a warm blanket and a cup of hot cocoa on a cold day.
My latest comfy-blanket-and-cocoa game is New Super Lucky’s Tale from Playful Studios. This bright cheery game is a love letter to classic 3-D platformers, and it has a welcoming vibe that just shines through. Lucky the mascot of the game literally beckons to you at the beginning of a stage as if to say, c’mon, I’ve got something cool to show you!” Besides being welcoming, I appreciated the presentation of the game, how it felt to be Lucky in the world, and how the pacing respected my time as a player
Lucky’s Tale is the story of a fox separated from his family after an evil sorcerer Jinx destroyed the Book of Ages his family was tasked with guarding. The pages in the Book of Ages are portals to other worlds, and after slipping through one of them, Lucky must collect the other pages to restore the Book of Ages and return home. Lucky’s task is not made easier by Jinx’s Kitty Litter, a band of cat thugs who are scattered throughout the worlds Lucky explores and is trying to get the pages first.
I really appreciate the way Lucky’s Tale is laid out. Each world has a theme like farmland or beach, and usually, there’s a conflict in the land started by one of the minions from Jinx’s Kitty Litter. Within each world are optional puzzle stages, main stages, and boss stages. The boss stage is usually at the far end of the world and has a giant lock on it that can only be opened by collecting a certain number of pages. Lucky can earn a page by completing one of several puzzle stages, which is either a rolling marble maze, or a sliding statue puzzle. Then there are the main stages, each with there own little storyline and unique design. One stage had me searching for the bandmates to play a barnyard concert, another had me complete trials to satisfy Yeti that I was enlightened enough to be their champion. My favorite had to be a series of carnival-style games to earn enough tickets to get fare on a ghost train. I love the variety of the stages, and you have the opportunity to unlock several pages each stage. You can breeze through the stage and just get one page, or you can take your time and find each stage’s hidden page. You also get a page for collecting 300 coins and another for collecting the individual letters in LUCKY.
One of my favorite things about the game is having all these different ways to collect pages. If I want to breeze through a stage, I can. If I don’t want to play the puzzles (the statue ones get hard), I can skip them and still get enough pages in other ways. The coins in each stage are used to buy outfits for Lucky, but if I don’t want to spend time coin-hunting, there’s no penalty. There is plenty of items and secrets to search for IF YOU WANT TO, but the game doesn’t punish you if you don’t. I really find this game design refreshing, putting lots of content in the game, but not forcing you to chase it. It’s up to you. Each stage within the worlds is also 20-30 minutes long, depending on how deep you dive for secrets, making it ideal for a quick play session especially on the go.
Playing as Lucky is delightful. Lucky runs, jumps, ground-pounds exactly as you’d expect a platforming hero should. Lucky can also twirl their tail as an attack, and double jump. Lucky’s one unique move is the ability to burrow under soft dirt and then move around underground with just their tail showing like a fuzzy shark fin. Lucky can pop up under buried objects, go beneath some walls, or surprise enemies from below with this maneuver. This burrow ability can also be combined with a spin attack and the ground -pound to wipe out an entire group of enemies if you are feeling that Lucky flow. Having several moves available and the ability to chain them gives the game a nice combat experience that is unexpected in this type of game. The controls are tight and responsive, and the camera follows the player well without getting stuck behind foreground objects too often. In the few instances where the perspective shifts, it easy to nudge the camera with the right joystick to follow the action.
If you are looking for a delightful breezy game to play through on a weekend or two, New Super Lucky’s Tale is perfect. The foxy hero is genuinely charming without being edgy or too precious, the worlds are well designed, colorful and interesting, and the gameplay is a fun mix of obstacle jumping and snappy combat. Do yourself a favor and open the Book of Ages on your Nintendo Switch and dive into this charming adventure.
New Super Lucky’s Tale released November 8, 2019 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. A key for the PC version was provided by Playful for the purpose of this review
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