I wrote a few weeks ago about my utter failure at Super Mario Sunshine, and again a few days ago about my first attempt to patch the gaping hole it left in the drywall of my sanity. Truth be told, diving back into Yoshi’s Crafted World was actually my second effort towards my journey to inner peace. My first effort was that of wrapping up a 3D platformer that I had a blast playing, but never finished. Much like Yoshi’s Crafted World, I eventually got distracted from this game, never to return – and the game is New Super Lucky’s Tale! Foolishly, I attempted to play this game right after finishing A Hat in Time some time last year around this time, and the similarities of two 3D platformers, both of which hearkened back to the glory days of the genre, was a big too much one after another. Too much of a good thing is still too much, after all.
Now, having come fresh off a totally different 3D Platforming Hellscape, I was ready!
I don’t want this post to compare any of these three very different 3D platformers, so I will start and end with a single blanket comparison – A Hat in Time and Super Mario Sunshine are not really relaxing games to me, and although I loved A Hat in Time, there were some parts that were not very self explanatory or just annoyed me for some reason. The other major difference is that A Hat in Time and Super Mario Sunshine has complex character movesets, which naturally means more complex platforming and thus, higher difficulty.
New Super Lucky’s Tale has only a fraction the control options, and I was thrilled about revisiting this title for this exact reason. It plays a lot more relaxing and a lot smoother in a “get in and play” sort of way. The levels are typically smaller and require chunks of 15-20 minutes maximum, and it’s plenty of time to get your fill of good clean platforming goodness.
As a port of an Xbox One game from 2017, the “New” part of the title is the updated release which saw some additions, including auto-runner levels. I’m not particularly a fan of those types of auto-runner games (typically seen on mobile devices), but they are really fun in this game. They’re also quite short and don’t require a whole lot of replays to 100% collect everything, so it’s more of a change of pace than anything else.
What really shines is the dialogue and atmosphere in this game. They aimed to nail that 90s platformer, N64-era nostalgic vibe, and you know what? They nailed it. The characters are rich and interesting, the conversations are completely silly and adorable, and the sound effects and music all come together beautifully to create deliciously interesting worlds that are packed with secrets and nooks and crannies to explore. It’s silly names and puns a-plenty here!
This is an extremely accessible platformer that takes very little, in terms of your character moveset, and stretches it throughout dozens of levels, yet somehow it always stays fresh and interesting. There are quite a few levels, all contained within 5 hub worlds, but the hubs themselves are actually levels, with their own puzzles to complete. The goal of each level is to collect all four clovers, which is done by 1) completing the level, 2) collecting all five L-U-C-K-Y letters, 3) finding a secret within the level, and 4) collecting 400 coins. Netting each of these clovers nets you a glorious 100% completion screen which really scratches the completionist itch, providing you’re into that sort of thing.
One of my favorite things about the way New Super Lucky’s Tale is structured is that it does not boot you out of every level once you collect a clover – it’s one of those titles where you can run around and grab everything, and 100% complete the level in one shot. Though it should be noted, the farther along you progress into the game, the harder that will get to nail on the first try, as the levels get a little more complex.
The highlight hub for me was Hauntingham, in particular the Carnival Court stage. The idea is that you are at a carnival and need to play a whole bunch of mini-games to win tickets. You then spend your tickets on the main clover collectibles for each level. It’s great fun and demonstrates how creative you can be with these hub worlds and stages, and that rather than having a pile of completely different and unrelated experiences, you can tie them together into a fun theme.
Scattered throughout the hub worlds are little secret foxholes that put Lucky in the position of solving a sliding puzzle. Solving the puzzle nets you some coins and a clover, and these can actually get somewhat tough! They are simplistic almost to the point of being boring in the first two game hubs, but then they start to require some more thought. I would have liked to see these get difficult, or better yet, have some more variety. There are plenty of games like this that could have been implemented and re-used all of the same assets. You know those peg-jumping games, where the goal is to be left with one peg? That would have been pretty neat to see in some of these challenge rooms. Either way though, it’s a fun little way to earn some clovers and change things up, yet again.
New Super Lucky’s Tale rewards completion by unlocking an entire secret bonus hub, with fast-moving high-difficulty challenge levels and all. It’s tons of fun and adds about two hours to your post-game, which is just enough to keep you playing and interested.
There are some excellent boss battles in New Super Lucky’s Tale, each with their own sets of challenges that test your control mastery of Lucky. They’re not terribly difficult but they are all unique and fun.
In the name of calling this gushing review “fair and balanced,” one complaint I’ll lodge about this title is the loading screens. They are everywhere, and this is one of those where they just go on forever. It’s absolutely not something to turn you off to the game, but I did recall staring at a lot of loading screens. A future Switch hardware iteration or a software patch could chop down said loading times and would make this so instantly playable that it would feel like playing N64 platformers all over again, instant-loading and all.
This is a solid platformer that won’t break your backlog, keep you playing for a solid amount of time to enjoy those nostalgia cozies, but won’t keep you so long that you fizzle out. If you need some happy relaxing You Time, check out New Super Lucky’s Tale.