The Xbox One's strangest exclusive arrives on a more appropriate platform.
The Switch is no stranger to ports at this point; time after time we see technically impressive games being compressed into Nintendo’s tiny handheld. It isn’t often that the Nintendo Switch version of a game is able to stand as the definitive release. However, such is the case with New Super Lucky’s Tale, an enhanced reimagining of Super Lucky’s Tale on Xbox One and PC. While on a surface level it would be easy to write off New Super Lucky’s Tale as a port, if it is to be considered such then I must insist that it is the most transformative port I have ever played. Despite having 100% completed the original release, New Super Lucky’s Tale felt like an entirely new game, with only brief glimpses of the original shining through.
New Super Lucky’s Tale is a platformer that employs both 3D and 2D segments. World exploration and boss fights are presented in 3D, while individual levels bounce nicely between the two. As Lucky the fox you’ll explore a variety of worlds each containing the aforementioned mixture of levels. Small puzzle levels can also be found both scattered across overworlds and within other levels. Your goal is to collect pages of the Book of Ages. There are four pages located in each level along with various bonus pages in each world. Levels award a page each for completing the level, collecting a set number of coins, finding all the letters of Lucky’s name, and a hidden page that usually revolves around solving a puzzle.
Pages and letters are all well hidden and you’ll have to thoroughly explore every level to find them all. The limit of four pages in a level helps to preserve the sense of excitement in finding each one. Unlike some moon based economies you won’t find any inflation here. At the end of each world is a boss door which requires a certain number of pages to unlock. If you’re like me and a bit of a completionist when it comes to 3D platformers you’ll likely find that you’ve practically unlocked the next boss door when you enter a world. The difficulty in New Super Lucky’s Tale is not in reaching the end, but in finding every page. I should note that the loading screens between levels can be a little long, but you’re always treated to entertaining messages from the friendly neighborhood postal golem.
Unlike its original release, New Super Lucky’s Tale features a completely free moving camera. To accommodate this, every 3D environment has been reworked to take full advantage of the new perspective. This applies both to the general layouts being re-arranged, along with entirely new secrets being hidden in areas Lucky wouldn’t have been previously able to access. 2D environments have also received some visual touch ups, but even so they remain my least favorite part of the experience as a whole. Lucky’s movement just doesn’t feel built for a 2D platformer. For example his double jump can result in awkward premature jumps when trying to time a bounce off a spring. Lucky’s moveset works great in 3D areas however. While Lucky’s general running speed has been slowed down in this version, he has a new slide ability that allows him to cover ground quickly. This ability can also be strung into a jump or attack. Overall Lucky feels much easier to control here than in his previous incarnation.
New Super Lucky’s Tale runs great on Switch whether playing docked or portably. Even on a full 4K display the Switch version holds up excellently. The only real caveat worth noting when compared to the Xbox One original is a drop to 30 frames per second from 60. However, as I noted earlier, Lucky isn’t particularly fast, so this change has no effect on actual gameplay. It is also a perfectly acceptable compromise given how much this version adds to the experience. That being said I did notice some frame rate hiccups, though they weren’t common and quickly resolved themselves. Oddly they seemed more present during the 2D segments. Overall though the presentation of New Super Lucky’s Tale is absolutely gorgeous and regularly outdoes the original release.
New Super Lucky’s Tale is the definitive way to experience this often overlooked platformer. For every small compromise, there are easily twice as many improvements to be had. It prioritizes exploration with consistently well hidden rewards and never devalues them by throwing too many at the player. It takes the fun original release and turns it into something pretty special. The Switch could be a fantastic new start for Lucky. Who knows, maybe he could have a crossover with another Nintendo fox someday. While the Switch has no shortage of great 3D platformers, New Super Lucky’s Tale shouldn’t be too far from the top of your list.