Nobody really knows why deja vu happens, but we know it does (all over again). This feeling of instant, yet unexplainable, familiarity happens a lot in games, especially with the recent cavalcade of remastered 3D platforming classics like Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy or Spyro Reignited Trilogy. Few games have tickled the recesses of my memory more than New Super Lucky’s Tale for the Nintendo Switch. What makes its appearance on Switch interesting is that it was originally billed as the killer app for Microsoft’s powerful new console, the Xbox One X. It was – and remains – a fun 3D platformer that offered tons of replay value and interesting level designs.
Only Microsoft offered Super Lucky’s Tale when Nintendo was offering Super Mario Odyssey…it wasn’t much of a fight. And now, exactly two years later, developer Playful has made the choice a lot less painful and brought their bushy-tailed fox to Mario’s home base.
Super Lucky’s Tale looks and plays remarkably like a classic 3D platformer from the late 90s, the kind you’d expect to see on the Nintendo64, like Banjo-Kazooie or Donkey Kong 64. Like those classics the gameplay is relatively straightforward: explore large, confined 3D worlds, collect the coins and other items, bop enemies and more. It joins fellow platformer Yooka-Laylee as decent throwbacks to a different era of gaming, when the idea of “3D” graphics was still pretty exciting and new.
The tale is as old as time: it’s Foxes versus Cats, and evil cat Jynx wants to rule the world, but can’t do it without the Book of Ages, a sacred text that holds portals to entire worlds. A young fox, Lucky, and his family are the sworn protectors of the book but unfortunately, Jynx manages to snatch it away and sends Lucky hurtling into another world. Now, Lucky must run, jump and collect his way through bright, colorful worlds to track down and defeat Jynx.
Super Lucky’s Tale is a great fit for Nintendo’s newest console, its whimsical nature and colorful visuals seemingly more appropriate on a platform sharing DNA with Super Mario than realistic first-person shooters and brutal takedowns. Publishers love to slap a “New” label on games and roll it back out; parents do it with babies all the time by bringing out an old toy and pretending it’s totally new. So does this “New” version of Super Lucky’s offer Switch fans anything new? Well…yes and no.
As the opening scene played out, the game felt new but also comfortably familiar. The visuals are full of bold colors and geometrically simple backgrounds that still look impressive on the less-powerful hardware, and the story is largely the same. If you’ve played the original game you’ll find a few tweaks made to each level’s design, down to the overall structure of the hub worlds. Each new level offers something fun to switch things up while also maintaining the story’s core. The character designs are charming while the gameplay is snappy and enjoyable.
Those nostalgic for vintage late 90s platformers like Super Mario 64 or Banjo-Kazooie should find New Super Lucky’s Tale a simple, but effective way to help scratch that particular itch as few games can. What’s lost in visual fidelity (not much) is more than made up for in mobility. While available elsewhere (including Xbox’s GamePass), the added tweaks, additions, and fundamental redesigns in this “new” version can only be found on the Switch. That and it’s completely and enjoyably portable, which automatically makes this version a lot more fun. And, let’s face it, Lucky the fox is super cute.