New Super Lucky’s Tale Hands-on Impressions: A Cute Substitute for Spyro

Games

This article comes from Den of Geek UK.

Super Lucky’s Tale was an Xbox One exclusive when it first launched in 2017, but now a fresh, expanded version of the game is headed to Nintendo Switch. Set to launch in fall 2019, this new take is titled New Super Lucky’s Tale.   

Nintendo’s official website notes that New Super Lucky’s Tale will feature “all new levels, redesigned original levels, tighter movement control, a fully rotatable camera, and improvements to nearly every other aspect, including art, lighting, cinematics, dialogue, UI, sound, music, and more.”

When Den of Geek popped along to Nintendo’s Windsor offices in June, we got to spend around 15 minutes with a demo for New Super Lucky’s Tale, and the game’s influences were clear from the offset. This is a retro-style 3D platformer through and through, with the Spyro trilogy clearly being a massive inspiration. And that’s no bad thing.

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After all, there are plenty of people who would love a new game in this vein. The classic Spyro, Rayman, and Crash Bandicoot games have all received modern remakes by now, and none of those franchises seem to be rushing out a follow-up installment, so why shouldn’t a new contender emerge to offer 3D platformer fans something to enjoy? We went into the demo with an open mind, then, and here’s how it went…

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It’s worth noting that the level in this demo is one of the redesigned classic ones, rather than a brand-new one. The demo opens in a green grassy area, with the cartoonish animal protagonist Lucky being positioned in the center of the screen. In front of Lucky is a robotic guide character with an exclamation point above his head implying that he’s keen to dish out some advice. Littered around the screen are ledges and things to do. Before you’ve even pressed a button, the visual similarities between this and Spyro are totally obvious.

The controls are simple enough for players of all ages to grasp within seconds. You’ll soon be running around the screen, jumping about, and interacting with items. Instead of flying like Spyro, though, Lucky is able to burrow underground – this means he can churn up items that were previously hidden, and he can also sneak under certain sorts of barriers to access new areas. This little trick is the first piece of evidence that New Super Lucky’s Tale has more up its sleeve than simply cloning the cute purple dragon. 

Once you’ve cleared this little tutorial area, a big gate opens up, allowing you to access the first proper level. Before you can get more guidance from a cutesy robot, though, the action is interrupted by the villainous Master Mittens, a cat in a ninja-like outfit. After some menacing monologue, this fearsome feline heads off and vows to battle you later. Then the little robot explains what you need to do: there are three robot heads hidden around the level, and once you gather them all, a big stone statue thingy can be activated. This is far from mold-breaking level design, but it’s a nice enough place to start a primary colored, kid-friendly adventure like this.

For the rest of the demo, we were free to wander around this first level, which has some neat bells and whistles to offer. You could probably dash around and grab the three McGuffins in five minutes flat, but there are more things to find and do if you can afford to put some extra time and effort in. As the nearby Nintendo rep was keen to point out, there are also five hidden letters scattered throughout every level (spelling out LUCKY). These are harder to find than the main goal items, and they offer a nice bit of extra challenge for those that want it. 

Flitting around as a fox and searching for hidden items is an enjoyable way to spend some time, and the nostalgic graphics couple well with the playful sound design to elevate the experience. The fact that you can use Lucky’s burrowing skills to upend enemies also brings with it a little sense of thrill. And of course, there’s a significant dopamine hit when you do manage to collect all three heads and/or all five letters. They’re hidden in some imaginative places, providing just enough of a brain-teaser to make the experience feel worthwhile without being frustrating.

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For instance, some of the collectible items are hidden within mini-puzzles, which are dotted around the level. These offer simple fun without asking too much of the player. You might have to jump up and then attack downward onto a bouncy pad, for example, in order to fly up and flip a switch that will open a cage. Again, this is not groundbreaking stuff, but it does scratch a certain itch that not many upcoming games seem to be thinking about.

It’s also worth noting that character designs are winningly cute, with Lucky being particularly easy for players to build an affinity for. Watching his cape flutter as you dash around is quite satisfying.

Lucky will make a serviceable substitute for Spyro, then, but we’ll have to wait and play the entire game to find out if his latest adventure can fully live up to those iconic games that it’s so clearly inspired by. Lest we forget that we’ve only had a brief taste of it so far.

We may not have spent very long with New Super Lucky’s Tale, but the demo did make a strong impression. Certainly, if you or a loved one has already completed the Spyro, Crash, and Rayman remakes, this is well worth trying out to keep the old-school 3D fun going. New Super Lucky’s Tale wears its influences on its sleeve, but it’s also got its own style and it does bother trying to offer something a bit different. We look forward to playing through more of the tale.

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