New Super Lucky’s Tale – Microsoft’s Star Fox
Microsoft’s acquisition of Rare has certainly turned out to be ironic hasn’t it? Once Nintendo’s go-to gang for platformers and FPS titles Rare has infrequently worked in these genres for the Xbox, even bastardising poster-boy Banjo with a car construction game. With Banjo’s belated resurrection in Smash Bros Ultimate it would suggest a complete lack of interest in continuing his legacy on Microsoft’s platform. Enter New Super Lucky’s Tale. Developed by Playful Corp this is a clear love letter to 90’s platformers and feel the most like a new Banjo-Kazooie title since Tooie. Thanks for nothing Rare!
Although the game didn’t make the biggest splash on the Xbox One it has now come to the Switch as a result of Nintendo and Microsoft’s blossoming romance of late. Misleadingly they’ve titled this port New Super Lucky’s Tale despite being… the exact same tale? The tale being a cross between Zootopia and the Pagemaster as a young fox is trapped inside a magical book and must escape to defeat a cat wizard. Travelling through a variety of themed worlds, collecting items and rigidly following every cliche in the genre.
Fox and Friends
These worlds are varied and interesting though, a particular highlight being the farming world run by giant hillbilly worms. They’re much more charismatic than our protagonist who seems to be one of Sonic’s long-lost friends post-lobotomy. Luckily the option to dress up this creep means you can obscure his never-ending staring. Oh and give him a lederhosen of course! The game’s aesthetic is clean but the designs can vary in interest. For every fantastic worm person there’s a disappointingly generic woodland creature in varying states of dress.
How does the fox play?
Levels are split between open areas for 3D platforming, 2D side-scrolling and various gimmick stages. These can include auto-runner sections as well as annoyingly repetitive sliding puzzles. The main stages are enjoyable despite a lack of challenge. The platforming mechanics are solid enough if uninspired, a hodge-podge of sub-Mario jumps and ground pounds. Lucky’s ability to burrow underground is interesting but rarely used in clever ways. Sub challenges in these stages such as collecting letters and secret pages encourage revisiting these stages. The lush background details are akin to Tropical Freeze, whilst also recalling Rare’s early Donkey Kong work.
There are a number of changes for the Switch version such as an improved camera system and various changes to levels. However the game now features an unreliable frame rate and long loading times which are unfortunate but understandable given the nature of the port. Still, Lucky has lived up to his name in his move to Nintendo’s platform. Given a new audience he could face a Bowie-style career reinvention if he plays his cards right. Although there are a myriad of issues there is an infectious charm to the proceedings so with refinement this could be the birth of a platforming star. If not, there’s always room at the retirement home and Gex could really use a new roommate.
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