Tag Archives: Fox

FoxyLand review

Microsoft have created a new category within the Xbox store, the Creators Collection. Here, developers can release a game that doesn’t fully integrate with Xbox Live services, in particular achievements, goes through a quicker review process, and supports the Universal Windows Platform. It’s a great way for developers to digitally ship their game across Windows, Windows phone and Xbox One without the struggles of certification.

One such game in this limited library is FoxyLand, a devious puzzle platformer from BUG Studio that harks back to the 8 and 16 bit era of games. And while the challenge of conquering these levels won’t unlock achievements to boast about, the journey is certainly worth it. FoxyLand is a splendidly designed title that certainly deserves a look.

You play as a fox on a quest to save their beloved, which can only be done by collecting gems and cherries. Depending on how many gems you collect in a level determines your star rating out of three, the challenge is to achieve three stars on each of them. The cherries are used as currency to buy cosmetic items to adorn your fox or to even skip levels you’re finding them too difficult. It’s a neat option, especially in the later stages where death is a frequent bedfellow.

After some relatively simple levels to start you off, you’re thrust into some wildly difficult ones. Traps block your path and challenge you to pixel perfect jumping and timing to defeat them. And while the levels may be short, with no checkpoints comes plenty of restarts and frustration. However, there’s some excellent design going on here, with branching paths and risk/reward moments for the gems and cherries really tapping in to the completionist pull. There are some issues where waiting too long appears to disrupt the timing of moving traps a little but it’s otherwise a masterfully designed set of platforming levels.

Furthermore, the charming 16 bit aesthetic, complete with chip tune music, is wonderfully nostalgic, with some attractive pixel art helping to bring each level to life. Although, there is a lack of level variety, which is a shame. However, despite the odd nit-pick, FoxyLand still manages to impress. The fiendish level design is challenging enough to keep you on edge and compelling enough to keep you trying, and that’s a formula not every developer is able to synthesise.

Super Lucky’s Tale review

A lot is asked of modern 3D platformers, largely because the giants of the genre have perfected so many of the mechanics of these terrific adventure games. Bright and welcoming visuals and audio, intuitive and clever level design, likeable characters, tight and responsive controls, and a 3D camera that’s quick and easy to manoeuvre yourself but dynamic enough to follow you and twist and turn at the right moments. Super Lucky’s Tale only really gets some of these elements right, but despite the odd blunder with those it struggles with, it’s still an excellent 3D platformer.

You take control of an adorable fox, on a quest to defeat a family of fiendish felines as they mean to take control of an all-powerful book and take over the world. It provides enough of a narrative drive to push the experience forwards but it certainly lacks the chops to enthral you. Fortunately, it can take a back seat, offering the occasional opportunity for a gag from one of the cats or a tip from your sister in regards to mechanics. It’s the joy of platforming and collecting that truly keeps you coming back.

However, the joy of the platforming is frequently threatened by the aforementioned blunders with the mechanics. It can occasionally feel a little sluggish moving Lucky around, particularly when jumping. Additionally, the camera isn’t free moving and turns in fixed degrees. This can make some areas a little tricky to see and manoeuvre within. Fortunately, the areas you’re exploring are on the small side. Indeed, Super Lucky’s Tale provides themed hub worlds, with doors leading to small self-contained levels. It’s a smart design that helps mark your progress and makes the camera control less frustrating. Moreover, levels take on one of two forms: a 3D environment to explore or a 2D level to scroll through. There’s also variety beyond that, with levels offering different mini-quests, some triggered by denizens of each level and some automatic, such as fetching objects for characters or auto scrolling levels forcing you to react accordingly. It’s pleasantly varied.

We also encountered some performance issues when running on an Xbox One S. Switching to the Xbox One X, however, cleared that issue up completely and granted jaw droopingly crisp visuals to boot. This, however, did introduce a more novel problem: a sense of overwhelming. Super Lucky’s Tale is utterly crammed full of objects, flora and fauna, all beautifully animated and sporting vibrant colours. It makes each frame remarkably busy, offering such a huge array of things you can interact with it can be a bit too much to comprehend. Largely, these are in fact just decoration or destroyable objects hiding trinkets, the rest is superfluous but gorgeous, and a plausible reason for the frame rate issues on the older Xbox hardware. You do eventually get used to it, and despite it being initially overwhelming it’s a marvellous reaction to have to a game’s visual design.

At the core of the experience is collecting four-leafed clovers from each level, unlocking boss fights and defeating the gang of cats. Each level challenges you to find four clovers, each requiring different criteria to be completed. It’s a little on the obtuse side, initially, offering little clue as to how precisely to unlock each clover, but some trial and error soon fixes that. Even the controls are a bit of a mystery at first, with some of Lucky’s moves not explained at all. Indeed, Super Lucky’s Tale fails to fully explain its mechanics and world to you and it can be a little frustrating as you figure it all out on your own, but once it does all click, there’s no denying how much fun the experience is.

The collectathon compulsion is strong here, and completionists will find each missed clover tormenting. Moreover, the boss fights are locked behind collecting a certain number of clovers, pretty high amounts in fact, providing plenty of encouragement to replay levels and conquer their challenges. It makes what is essentially quite a short adventure a much longer one, but it doesn’t fall into the trap of padding so much as it feels like an experience designed around thorough, systematic level completion. It’s a design that forces a more linear progression than what’s typically found in the genre, which helps greatly with your quest to indeed complete the adventure one hundred percent. It’s a design quirk that won’t work for everyone, but for those looking for a 3D platformer with a stricter structure, it’s ideal.

Thanks to Xbox and Playful for supporting TiX