Lucky’s Tale Review: Pure Platforming Magic
Initially released alongside the Oculus Rift in 2016, Lucky’s Tale was an excellent showcase of how VR could breathe new life into the platformer genre. Now, five years and a successful non-VR sequel later, developer Playful Corp. has returned to deliver a remastered romp for the Quest 2, allowing players to embark on a whimsical adventure untethered from their bulky gaming PCs.
Borrowing From The Best Of Them
If you never played the original release, the plot here is straightforward enough. After Lucky’s porcine pal gets abducted by a tentacled terror named Glorp, he sets off on a journey to rescue his friend from the Kraken-esque kidnapper. Luckily for Lucky, his bestest bud won’t be too hard to find, as the treasure-hoarding monsters left a trail of shiny gold coins in his wake. A roughly four-hour adventure ensues that sees Lucky traversing a variety of colorful worlds as he tail-whips, butt-stomps, and platforms his way to victory.
As far as platformers go, Lucky’s Tale isn’t going to win any awards for originality. From the way you hop on enemies’ heads and squish them into pancakes to the treasure trove of gold coins and gems you’ll collect along the way, it’s clear the developers are pretty fond of a certain mustachioed plumber. Then again, you can’t fault Playful Corp. for following Nintendo’s lead. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all. And despite the game’s reliance on time-tested mechanics, Lucky’s Tale still manages to feel fresh thanks to its gorgeous visuals and clever stage designs that make great use of VR’s strengths.
From the moment you take your first steps in the vibrant jungle setting, looking around Lucky’s world gives players the sensation of peering into a playset come alive. While games like the excellent Astro Bot may have perfected the VR platformer formula, it’s hard not to be impressed when taking in Lucky’s Tale’s lush and lively environments that come across as intricate dioramas filled with secrets to uncover. I found myself wholly immersed in each stage, glancing around for tucked-away presents and other hidden goodies to collect in a way I seldom do when playing platformers outside of VR.
Speaking of stages, the locales in Lucky’s Tale run the gamut from forests filled with ill-tempered caterpillars to jungle temples, dimly-lit mines, and the requisite underwater area. Again, these settings are all par for the course. But what’s there is done well, and I was always eager to see what platforming challenges the game would throw at me next. My favorite of the bunch were some craftwork mazes that occasionally appear, requiring some pretty quick reflexes to avoid becoming roasted by flame-throwing statues or impaled on perilous spike traps. If I had one complaint, the enemy variety is pretty much nonexistent. You’ll find yourself whipping and bopping the same small handful of bomb-tossing birds, rock monsters, and bugs throughout your adventure. With such a limited cast of baddies on offer, these encounters start to feel a little stale. That said, a few more enemies and boss encounters would have been quite welcome, but it’s hardly a deal-breaker given just how fun exploring the game’s world is.
Controlling Lucky is a breeze. Pressing the A button on the Oculus Touch controller will execute a jump. Press it again, and you’ll perform a double jump – perfect for clearing wide gaps. Additionally, you can perform a tail-whip with the B button or a butt-stump by pressing the trigger button while in the air. Everything is tight and responsive, making maneuvering Lucky around the game world feel incredibly satisfying. Occasionally you’ll pick up bombs or other objects to throw, and you’ll aim them by simply looking at your target and pressing the B button. You’d think lobbing bombs with your head while dealing with swarms of enemies would be clumsy, but it works very well here. I absolutely appreciated being able to focus on my platforming and dodging enemies without needing to stop and use the analog sticks to aim my projectiles, especially during the game’s final boss encounter.
One Polished Port
When it comes to its presentation, Lucky’s Tale is a treat on the Oculus Quest 2. With improved lighting and performance over its initial release to animations lifted from Super Lucky’s Tale, it’s all-around a treat to behold and a nice evolution over 2016’s offering. Of course, Lucky’s Tale was never the most demanding game out there when it arrived on the Oculus Rift, but I can’t stress enough how nice it is to be able to play the game in remastered form without needing to be tethered to a PC.
The visuals are undoubtedly appealing, but the game fares just as well on the audio front. From the way sounds echo ominously in caverns to the delightfully adorable voicework for Lucky himself, the sound effects are crystal clear and do a great job of building upon the game’s charming atmosphere. Additionally, the music is delightful. From upbeat calypso that perfectly matches the tropical beaches to ominous percussion-laden arrangements inside haunting ancient temples, each track fits the on-screen action like a well-worn glove.
While I very much enjoyed my time with Lucky’s Tale on the Quest 2, the game isn’t without its issues. With the camera’s fixed perspective mapped to your head, determining the distance of some jumps can be a challenge. There were quite a few times I fell to my death because I could not see precisely where my shadow was due to where the camera was positioned. This is incredibly frustrating in areas where you need to bounce from one enemy to the next to clear a wide gap. The game is also quite short. Even the most casual platformer fans should be able to complete Lucky’s Tale’s five worlds in just a couple of hours. After you beat the game, you can always revisit levels to take a stab at time trials and collect the hidden red coins in each stage. However, it’s hard to imagine most players will put in the extra effort after already experiencing most of what the game has to offer.
Lucky’s Tale Is A Must-Own Addition To Your Quest 2 Library
The VR platformer genre has seen plenty of innovation since Lucky’s Tale made its debut with gems like Japan Studio’s Astro Bot and Polyarc’s Moss. Still, while it may not be quite as ambitious as those aforementioned adventures, revisiting this family-friendly fox for another go-round on the Oculus Quest 2 was an irresistible treat that my inner child savored from start to finish. It’s a quick burn to be sure, but if you’re looking for a lighthearted romp for your new headset, Lucky’s Tale is pure platforming magic and a must-own addition to any fan of the genre’s library.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Oculus Quest 2 (reviewed); Publisher: Playful Corp.; Developer: Playful Corp.; Players: 1; Released: November 18, 2021; MSRP: $19.99
Full disclosure: The publisher provided a review copy.