Back in 2016, a little fox named Lucky helped introduce owners of the brand new Oculus Rift to the wonders of virtual reality. Lucky’s Tale was one of Rift’s launch games, and one of the first to explore what a third-person platformer could look like in this new medium.
Five years later, Lucky’s Tale is back and ready to bound into your heart once again. Playful Studios has remastered Lucky’s Tale for Quest 2—meaning updated lighting and rendering, remixed audio, and the tighter movement of Lucky’s latest flatscreen adventure New Super Lucky’s Tale. Find it on Quest 2 today for $19.99 USD.
We sat down with David Calkins, Manager of Communications at Playful, to talk about Lucky’s legacy, making the game look and play better than ever, and whether Lucky has more tales in his future.
First, for those who weren’t paying attention to VR in 2016: What is Lucky’s Tale?
David Calkins: We didn’t initially set out to make one of virtual reality’s first 3rd-person platformers. But after rapidly prototyping dozens of ideas for the VR game we wanted to make back in 2013, it was the one we kept coming back to.
We were inspired by the idea of our childhood toys coming to life. And that’s what Lucky’s Tale became for us—it’s a trip back to our playrooms with our action figures and imaginations, where anything is possible. This is the story of a fox named Lucky trying to save his best friend Piggy, who in the game’s opening cinematic is kidnapped by a mysterious, tentacled monster. The scale is such that Lucky feels like a toy come to life, yet the levels are still large and full of enough details that it feels like you’ve gone inside the world of a video game.
Lucky’s Tale is a love letter to the 3D platformers we grew up playing. And ultimately, it’s one of the few games Oculus bundled with Rift, its first consumer VR headset. Lucky was even on Rift’s box for a while! I still have one of those boxes and it brings me joy every time I see it.
What made the team want to revisit and remaster Lucky’s Tale now?
DC: First, our fans kept asking us for it. Search for “Lucky’s Tale” and one of the top suggested auto-completes is “Oculus Quest 2,” despite the gap between the game’s launch and Quest’s release.
And second, Lucky has picked up quite a few new fans since then with the release of Super Lucky’s Tale as a launch title for the Xbox One X, and later for its remake New Super Lucky’s Tale, which started as a Nintendo Switch exclusive first announced as part of Nintendo’s E3 2019 showcase. It felt like the right time to introduce our fans to Lucky’s debut title, where it all started.
Another factor was the Quest itself, which is such a fantastic upgrade from the original Rift. We wanted to experience the game again ourselves!
The Rift originally shipped with a gamepad and Lucky’s Tale was designed with those controls in mind. Did the Touch controllers open any new possibilities? Any new mechanics?
DC: We added support for Touch controls in an update to the original game, and we’ve brought those to this new version. Lucky now reacts to your Touch inputs, and you can interact with the book that advances the story in between levels as well as the trophies you collect in each level.
The Touch controllers aren’t the only way VR has changed since 2016. What else did the team do to update Lucky’s Tale for modern VR hardware? Or even to bring it more in-line with 2019’s New Super Lucky’s Tale?
DC: When we first started working with VR, we quickly identified comfort as the most important element to get right. The most amazing, immersive experience isn’t worth much if it induces motion sickness. One of the best parts of modern VR is just how far things have come in enhancing player comfort, with 6DOF, touch controls, and a lighter headset. Being fully free from cables and wires makes the game feel so much more welcoming. You can get up and explore Lucky’s world like never before, really look around at all the nooks and crannies. I’d never seen this delightful angle on Piggy and Lucky before...
Of course, there are tradeoffs when porting a game designed for PC to hardware designed to be comfortable. A lot of the work went into optimizing things like shaders, textures, and lightmaps. But there are also advantages, like Quest 2’s higher-resolution screen. And thanks to the optimization work we did, the game looks better than ever, with lighting that feels more vivid and remixed audio that sounds clearer and more natural.
The biggest difference is Lucky himself and the way he feels to play. He’s come a long way since the original Lucky’s Tale release, both in how he looks—he’s quite a dapper young fox now—and how he moves. Over the years we’ve refined his movement to be more precise and intuitive. Lucky now eases into a run and stops on a dime. He’s learned to run on two feet, making him easier to guide directly onto the back of an unsuspecting Wriggle.
What do you consider the legacy or lasting impact of Lucky’s Tale in VR?
DC: For many people, Lucky was one of their first experiences in VR thanks to the exclusive bundle with Oculus. We saw a couple interesting things happen after its launch. We started seeing an abundance of variety in VR experiences, with many developers choosing to innovate beyond the typical first-person format. And it came at the start of a new wave of 3D platformers, both in VR and on flatscreen. Now, years later, Lucky has millions of new fans and is a modern ambassador carrying the torch for 3D platforming. Today he’s carrying it back to virtual reality.
What’s next for you? Can we look forward to further Lucky’s Tale adventures someday? Any exciting updates in the works?
DC: At the moment we’re working on something new, and our hope is that we can keep telling Lucky’s tales for a long time to come.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
DC: We can’t wait to share what we’re currently working on! Until then, stay playful!
If you were here for Rift’s launch, get ready to see an old friend again—and if not, get ready to make a new friend! Lucky’s Tale is out now on Quest 2 for $19.99 USD.