Our story begins with our plucky fox protagonist being dragged into the pages of an ancient tome called the Book of Ages. This book just happens to contain the various worlds that Lucky’s family and their friends used to protect. Sadly, along with Lucky, a bunch of villainous cats (sure, why not?) called the Kitty Litter were pulled in too and in no time at all they’re wreaking havoc everywhere.
Sure, this plot line is unmistakably corny, but it comes across as so authentic. It’s hard to deny it the joy of showing it off to you, like a child earnestly showing you shells they picked up at the beach. Plus, I have to hand it to Playful Studios that they’ve managed to flesh out the plot of the original game in this version in such a natural way, adding more charm in the process.
Most of the game sees you running, jumping or burrowing around the isolated levels, collecting various things and dealing with the more aggressive creatures. The majority of these levels are quite linear, with only one set route through, but that doesn’t make getting to the page at the end simple, as there’s a large amount of things to find in each that cause the odd diversion.
Each main level contains a Hidden Page from the Book of Ages, usually both hidden and obtainable only after solving a puzzle, and – typically – the letters of Lucky’s name. These letters can be quite devilish in their hiding places, but finding them all grants another page too. Luckily (heh), these are hidden in order, so if you find an ‘L’, and ‘C’, you missed the ‘U’ along the way.
There is a lot of level variety; pulling in auto-running levels, 2D side scrolling, 3D sandboxes, and a series of short puzzle levels for a change of pace. In fact, there’s different level types all the way up to the end and in the post-game (oh yes, there’s a post-game), so there’s a lot of variety to be found here. In fact, some of the puzzle levels had me genuinely stumped for a while.
With New Super Lucky’s Tale, if you think back to the character platformers of the 90s, you’re most of the way there. It takes considerable pointers from these classics, though not slavishly so. Compared to the genre greats there isn’t a great deal of challenge to the game though, and sadly it isn’t very long either but thankfully it’s great fun to actually play while it lasts.
It would be a huge oversight on my part if I didn’t mention how this title stands against the original on Xbox One, and the short answer is – very well. The shift to Lucky running on his hind legs instead of all-fours means he is no longer a ball ache to control. Also, the addition of a slide while on a surface you can’t burrow in is an absolute godsend for getting around the levels too.
To be honest, it’s striking how different New Super Lucky’s Tale feels to the original release. The controls are only the beginning, as they’ve also changed the game structure, adding new levels and even considerably reworking some existing levels to the point that they’re practically new. The end result is that this feels like a brand new game just with small borrowed sections.
An incredibly cute addition is the option to dress Lucky up in a variety of outfits. These are unlocked by collecting pages and then using the money you find in each level and the hub worlds. This means that the cash you find in the game actually has a purpose now, unlike the original, but does result in a little bit of grinding to get the last few costumes, which might grate for some people.
New Super Lucky’s Tale has a bold, colourful art style that is simply divine to behold. All of the hub worlds are visually distinct; with varied level design, bonkers animal denizens, and gorgeous lighting. Then there’s Lucky, who is simply adorable, with a tremendous number of little animations that show a staggering attention to detail paid to the vulpine protagonist.
The charm of the design (I promise I won’t use that word again) also bleeds into the sound, with some of the most bouncy music I think I’ve ever heard. All of the characters are voiced in the style of the classic character platformers, so gibberish is the order of the day. The key point being that in this instance the gibberish is actually adorable – especially those damn farmer worms.
New Super Lucky’s Tale isn’t so much a port as the true definitive edition of the game. A number of improvements to the controls, frame rate, level design, and overall structure of the game has resulted in a title that completely surpasses its origins. It isn’t challenging, or very long; but what is there is joyous, frivolous fun until the credits roll.