Sunday, December 29, 2019

New Super Lucky's Tale (NSW) Review

Let's take a quick breather from the SuperPhillip Central's Best of 2019 Awards for a review of a recent Nintendo Switch release. It's New Super Lucky's Tale, a game that had previous versions on two different platforms. Now, new and improved, is New Super Lucky's Tale the definitive version of Lucky's first platforming adventure? Here's the answer with the SPC review.

Don't try to outfox this fox!

What a story Lucky has had thus far! I'm not even talking about his trials to become a guardian and such. I'm referring to his original debut on the Oculus Rift VR exclusive Lucky's Tale, followed by the more expansive Xbox One game Super Lucky's Tale. Now, the game moves to a new platform and with another new word added to its name. New Super Lucky's Tale is almost unrecognizable from its previous iterations with how much has changed, but do all of the game's new additions and changes make for a better experience? Well... Yes and no.

New Super Lucky's Tale sees the evil Jinx and his band of rogue villains, the Kitty Litter, seeking a mystical book that holds numerous worlds inside of it. When the pages are scattered about in a scuffle, the book teleports Lucky, who is caught in the fray, and taken to one of the various worlds. Only through taking on each member of the Kitty Litter and collecting the pages of the book can Lucky find his way home to his family.

New Super Lucky's Tale sports some voiced dialogue, but most of it in-game is through text boxes and small soundbites of gibberish. That said, the characterization in the game is top-notch with some truly charming characters. Lucky himself is bursting with personality, and I love the way he looks at the camera and greets the player when one zooms in on him. This personality is further enhanced by unlockable costumes that are purchased with the game's currency.

The characters in New Super Lucky's Tale occasionally provided me with a chuckle or two.
The goal of New Super Lucky's Tale sees Lucky entering into levels to collect Clover Pages, of which there are four per level. One of these is collected simply from clearing the main level objective, such as the first level's goal of finding and carrying three golem heads back to their lonely bodies. Another page is hidden in the level, usually locked behind some kind of platforming puzzle. Then the other two pages are acquired by finding and collecting the letters L-U-C-K-Y and gathering 300 coins in a single level. While most the goals are optional apart from clearing the level, the door to the boss of each hub world requires a set number of pages to open its lock.

Another Clover Page collected. Keep it up, Lucky!
That said, it's quite easy to just stumble upon Clover Pages as long as you're doing the minimum amount of exploration required. Nevertheless, if you want to 100% the game, you'll have to search high and low in levels and perform some rather crafty platforming spectacles to complete some of the more fur-raising challenges in the game. The post-game challenges, for instance, will cause even the most proficient of platform game players to stumble a little bit.

Lucky thinks he's a field goal kicker for the NFL all of a sudden. And... it's good!
Playful's game was sold as a 3D platformer, but it's so much more than that. There's a great amount of variety on display here with the gameplay, though that's not always a positive thing. Apart from the 3D worlds filled with entertaining exploration, platforming peril, and puzzles abound, there are side-scrolling 2D levels, which offer a decent degree of delightful design. Then, there are auto-runner levels that play at an angle, which are enjoyable enough.

The 2D levels offer a change in perspective but no change in quality, thankfully.
The unwelcome variety in New Super Lucky's Tale comes from gameplay that isn't actual platforming. While solving sliding stone statue puzzles is amusing the first five times you do it, after you see the 15th puzzle you need to solve for a Clover Page, it very much outwears its welcome. Then, there are the marble rolling mini-games, which not only are frustrating to control, but the camera angle makes seeing your ball incredibly hard when you're away from the front of the board.

If only Lucky had some pesticide for this particular petal-filled pest!
When you are running and jumping around in New Super Lucky's Tale, you're going to have a solid time. Lucky can jump and then utilize a spin of his tail, Mario Galaxy-style, to get extra distance and for last second tweaking when landing. His ability to burrow under soft ground is a highlight of Lucky's move set, allowing him to pass under otherwise impenetrable objects like cages and fences, as well as avoid detection during brief and non-frustrating stealth sections. What can be frustrating, though, is Lucky's double jump, which caused me to occasionally attempt to bounce off enemies too early. There are also some collision detection issues that needed a wee bit more polish to iron out.

Lucky is able to burrow into soft soil like this to dodge these over-sized but not over-easy eggs.
Bosses round out the action in New Super Lucky's Tale, and these aren't too amazing of experiences. They all follow the same patterns of dodging various attacks--usually barrages of fireballs--and then waiting for your opportunity to attack the boss directly. There is some variety in how you attack each boss, but New Super Lucky's Tale won't be winning any awards for exceptionally creative boss battles. They're enjoyable enough, but won't give a long, lasting impression.

This boss is beaten by flipping various switches around the arena to launch a laser beam right at it.
New Super Lucky's Tale has some performance problems with its arrival on the Nintendo Switch. Frame-rate hiccups and lengthy loading times were far too frequent for my liking through my 10+ hour play-through of the game to achieve 100%. (As an aside, I encourage going for 100%, as otherwise, New Super Lucky's Tale is a rather short adventure). There is also noticeable pop-in with objects materializing from thin air in level overviews that begin each entrance into a level, where the camera surveys the platforming to come. On a positive note, despite these performance problems, New Super Lucky's Tale is a noted beauty of a game, and proof positive that a pleasant art style can conquer all. The music is suitably catchy, as well, so much so that I tracked down some song samples on YouTube just to listen to them outside the game.

Overall, my happiness that Super Lucky's Tale was brought to the Nintendo Switch didn't diminish through playing the final game. Sure, there were headaches here and there while playing the game to full completion (I'm looking directly at you, marble puzzles), but I had more good times and favorable moments with New Super Lucky's Tale than bad. While I doubt I'll want to return to the game often due to the unskippable story sequences in levels and all of the non-platforming gameplay, I do think pretty highly of the game. That's because ultimately, New Super Lucky's Tale is a solid platformer, a definitive version of Lucky's adventure, and most welcome in any run and jump fan's ever-expanding collection of Switch games.

[SPC Says: B-]

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