Lucky Luna, from Alto’s Odyssey developer Snowman, wouldn’t be the first game to take a well-trodden genre and remove one of its key elements to create something new. In this case removing the jumping from a platformer. However, I think this will stand out as one of the best examples of doing such a thing, and in addition to that, it will leave a mark on players just for being an outstanding overall game on its own merits.
As mentioned, there’s no jumping in Lucky Luna. Instead you’ll only need to worry yourself with left and right movement. Sound easy? It. Is. Not. Levels are designed to go from top to bottom, so you’ll do a lot of falling down and letting gravity get you to where you’re going. Your side-to-side movement has an inertia to it, similar to scrolling a list on a smartphone, and so while you have near-infinite levels of granularity in terms of how quickly you move you’ll need to reign that in so as not to fly out of control and into a dangerous object or situation.
This is true for one of the main tasks in Lucky Luna too: Collecting treasures. Almost everywhere you go a line of tiny pearls or gems will appear, almost like pellets in Pac-Man, and you’ll want to collect as many as you can to increase your score. Since these sort of appear out of nowhere there’s all sorts of opportunitues for the developers to create cascading lines of gems to collect during an especially large fall, for example, and there are endless opportunities to hide these gems throughout the sprawling levels.
In many cases it feels like you can discover hidden gems and get them to appear just by visiting an out of the way nook or cranny in a level, giving me heavy vibes from DuckTales on the NES. The bottom line is that exploring in Lucky Luna is super interesting and fun, and oftentimes rewarding. However, you don’t want to spend TOO much time exploring either, because beside gems you’ll also earn points based on how quickly you can complete a level. As I said, the levels can be giant, complex, sprawling environments and simply making it to the end can feel like a real journey.
Throw in the collection aspect, the completion timer, and the many other secrets to discover, and there are tons of reasons to revisit and replay all the levels in Lucky Luna, which is really nice. The main draw though is the mysterious storyline that is slowly hinted at as you progress, and the strange world that the game takes place in. Not to mention that all of it is absolutely gorgeous with stunning animations. There is so much to do in Lucky Luna, and it is such a full and complete feeling game, but it’s also very explicitly designed to be played on a touchscreen which feels rarer than it should.
I know not everyone has a Netflix subscription, which is required in order to play Lucky Luna, and I know that even some of those who do are not crazy about the idea of gaming being tied to subscriptions. I get that and, well, I’m not really here to debate that. Taken on its own merits Lucky Luna is a tremendously impressive experience, and perhaps in an alternate reality where the mobile market didn’t turn out the way it did, it’s the kind of game people would have no problem paying $30 for on their mobile device. That’s not our reality though, so if you have a means to a Netflix subscription I very much recommend giving Lucky Luna all of your time.