Miles ‘Tails’ Prower. Fox McCloud. Kingsley. Foxy from Foxyland. Those nameless foxes in The First Tree and Spirit of the North. And now, Lucky.
History shows that foxes have been surprisingly prevalent in platformers for longer than we care to remember. This may be due to their history in Japanese folklore, known as kitsune.
Or, it may be because they are just damned cute animals. I for one am always happier and more content after seeing one scampering around on an evening.
Lucky may not be the newcomer to this unofficial kitsune clan, having first appeared on VR headset in 2016. However, after my time with New Super Lucky’s Tale, he has more than earned his place in and amongst some of the elite foxes from the annals of gaming.
However, the bad news first. New Super Lucky’s Tale isn’t a full sequel to Super Lucky’s Tale that came out in November 2017. It’s not even a sort of sequel; it is a remake of a game that came out less than three years ago. I’m not sure if Lucky has the scope or pedigree yet to set a dangerous precedent with remaking games in the same console generation, but it is still a cause for concern.
That said, the work that has gone into this remake has made a world of difference. This version is the full package, unlike the original that had additional DLC worlds to explore. These also change the running order that you encounter the different worlds in: for example, Gilly Island was released as DLC originally but in this version it is the fourth island you visit out of six.
For those that missed out on the original, New Super Lucky’s Tale is a 3D platformer that describes itself as a love letter to the hallmarks of the genre. We’re talking the likes of Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Banjo-Kazooie and Super Mario 64 here. If you played those as a child, then you’ll know exactly what to expect.
Unlike his name though, Lucky isn’t having much luck. The book he, his sister and a few friends have been guarding has just been stolen by a cat named Jinx. And Lucky just happened to be transported into the book as it was stolen. His only way to get back is to travel through the worlds in the book and retrieve the pages that have gone missing.
Each world in the book has a member of Jinx’s entourage overseeing it. These are known as the Kitty Litter and have suitably over-the-top personalities, especially for something that is predominantly a child’s game. The fact that they are all cats, the most evil of animals… well I just took great pleasure in defeating them all.
The islands – like any good 3D platformer – are the overworlds where Lucky can run around, freely choosing levels. They can be home to a variety of characters, ranging from rock golems, fish, ghosts, worms and even wrestling yetis. Everything is very kid-friendly, but bigger kids will also enjoy the wide array of puns incorporated into the script.
And like any good overworld, there are plenty of secrets to uncover. Whether that be hidden coins, or underground puzzles to solve, you have plenty to discover. Those puzzles are deceptively tricky as well. But you get the feeling they were designed for kids and adults to sit and work out together, as they will certainly require two sets of eyes.
Levels feel more regimented in the sense that they all feature the same four objectives: finish the level, collect 300 coins, find five letters to spell out ‘Lucky’ and discover the secret area. Complete any of these and you are awarded with a page for the book. Then, in the overworld, collecting a requisite number of pages will unlock the door to the boss of that area. It is a tried and tested method of controlling player progression so lacks originality in that sense. But if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
Unlike the pages where there is a finite number, there is no end to the amount of coins you can collect. Some islands have shops where you can use them to purchase additional outfits for Lucky, but this is their only use. If you are a meticulous collector, your coffers will be overflowing with coins very quickly.
Level rewards are the same, but the level designs are wildly varied, constantly keeping things fresh. There are your standard 3D levels, 2D-esque side-scrolling, top-down and more. There is even a level full of carnival minigames. It is always a surprise jumping into a new stage and helps keep things fresh and never boring.
Other improved features in New Super Lucky’s Tale include a fully rotatable camera and tighter control of Lucky himself. Plus, there are improvements and amendments to the music, cinematics, lighting and story. New Super Lucky’s Tale remains available straight away to download on Xbox Game Pass but also still includes the ability to also play on PC through the Xbox Play Anywhere initiative. It all adds up to a robust and competent platformer.
There are a total of 54 achievements to unlock, and they are all fairly straightforward. If you are the type of person who must collect everything in a platformer, you should have no trouble with these.
New Super Lucky’s Tale on the Xbox One aims to be a love letter to 3D platformers of old, and it absolutely is. For older gamers it feels instantly familiar, yet fresh, and littler ones will have a blast playing as Lucky. It could be argued that it feels slightly easier than those platformers it looks up to, but don’t let that put you off. The new features are noticeable but are nothing but positive. It is simply a game to be enjoyed by little kids, big kids and even together.