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It feels like it's been forever since anybody tried to come out with a brand new mascot platformer. And yet, the Xbox One X is ready to try and fill that void with a kid fox named Lucky. Super Lucky's Tale is a new 3D platformer from Microsoft and, while the game does a few interesting things with the genre, a bad camera and rough controls make the game ultimately forgettable.
The setup for Super Lucky's Tale is so forgettable and unimportant that the game blows through it fairly quickly because apparently, it doesn't even care. Lucky's sister Lira is a Guardian, a heroic fox, who returns home after obtaining the mythic Book of Ages. However, the book is also the goal for an evil group of cats known as the Kitty Litter and their leader Jinx. During an attempt by the Kitty Litter to obtain the book, it opens, sucking all the members of the Kitty Litter, and Lucky into the book. Now Lucky must traverse multiple worlds in order to fight and defeat each member of the Kitty Litter.
While many of the classic mascot platformers in the past were able to make do without a story, the fact is that today a little investment in the character wouldn't be out of line. What little the story gives you makes you more interested to get to know the sister character than Lucky himself. The story gets basically ignored between the beginning and the end of the game. Characters speak in gibberish, although the prologue is voiced, you can tell the idea was to go for a "classic" feel, but instead, it just feels dated. Mario can get away with it because he's got the history. Anybody new to the game should do more.
Super Lucky's Tale consists of four hub worlds, each with multiple platforming levels within it. Within each level, Lucky must obtain clovers (this game's version of Mario's stars or moons) Each level has four clovers, one for completing the level itself, one for collecting 300 coins within the level, a third for picking up collectables that spell out the name Lucky, and a fourth which is secret and varies between levels as far as how you get it. Once you collect the required number of total clovers, you can move on to a boss battle with a member of the Kitty Litter. Then it's off to the next world, rinse, repeat. There are a handful of other clovers available in other standalone levels that require solving puzzles or other such elements. These levels were much more entertaining and if they'd been the focus, there could have been something here.
If you've ever played a Mario game since the days of Super Mario 64, the basic setup will look and feel very familiar. Super Lucky's Tale does try to mix things up by putting some variety in the levels. While some are open 3D environments, others work as side-scrolling 2D levels, this keeps gameplay from getting too monotonous. The 2D levels still work within 3D space as you occasionally need to jump between the background and foreground in order to traverse the level. The 2D levels are by far the standout here, mostly because the 3D worlds fall victim to a lousy camera.
For some reason, the camera in Super Lucky's Tale is limited to about 120 degrees of rotation. this makes it difficult to get a perfect idea where you are and can make jumping incredibly difficult to pull off. This means you'll probably jump to your death a lot, which wouldn't be the end of the world, except for the limited number of lives you have. Each level has multiple checkpoints but when you lose all your lives, you're back at the beginning of the level, having lost everything you've collected, including the additional clovers you can pick up along the way to the end. It feels unnecessarily punitive and designed entirely to make the game last longer.
This review was done using an Xbox One version of the game provided by the publisher.