If you never heard of Lucky Luke then you must be an American. Since 1946, he has been sashaying his way across the European funny pages, chewing his cigarette, sweet-talking dames, and drawing his gun so fast that he's "quicker than his own shadow." Of course, it's ironic that Americans don't know Luke, a figure that embodies the American frontier, but since he is so beloved by our transatlantic friends, it is fitting that he shows up on the Philips CD-i, a system more popular overseas than here.
To use the parlance of the Old West, I must say that Lucky Luke is a tall drink of water. And it is precisely this quality, his height, that makes this game so insufferably frustrating. While it is impressive to see a sidescroller with crisp and colorful sprites so large, it doesn't help the gameplay by any means. Luke's height makes him an easy target and also leaves little room for maneuverability. When you add all the enemies, obstacles, and platforms, the screen seems too crampt for comfort. Each time Luke suffers injury, he yells "damn" and since he stays invincible for only a millisecond after each hit, you will hear the word "damn" so often that you'll find yourself echoing the expletives as you strive to survive each level.
If one argues too loudly about realism in a video game, then he is probably engaged in the wrong hobby, but some of the difficulties encountered in this game defy logic so egregiously that I would be remiss not to complain a bit. First of all, the stages are littered with prickly burrs, and they are so small that you won't realize you're standing on one until Luke begins blinking and yelling "damn." Then there are the turtles. Though turtles are widely regarded as benign creatures, the ones in Lucky Luke reek more harm on Luke than the bullets shot from stationary gunslingers. Perhaps most annoying are the various items that fall from windows. With most of the windows are out of your field of vision, you never know what is raining down on you until it's too late. Anvils, flower pots, and liquor bottles fall on you with equal enmity.
Oh, and if all this isn't enough a challenge for you, there's a time limit for each stage. "Damn!"
While games should challenge players, good games often offer the first few levels as a warm up to allow the player to familiarize himself with controls. Here, the game is difficult from the first hitching post to the last sunset.
The designers, perhaps in a effort to sell their poorly conceived game, resort to using intermittent images of sexy girl to lure an audience. During the load screen, long-legged ladies engage in a kick routine and hike their skirts as Luke plays the piano. This screen brackets all the levels and you may notice that none of the dancers seem to be wearing undergarments. Even stranger, bonus levels features anime-style girls wearing white panties though 19th century women were rarely seen in such immodest conditions. Though amusing and noteworthy, the girls strewn throughout do not do enough to keep a player interested in sticking with all twenty-four levels.
Unless you enjoy memorizing obstacle placement for twenty-four levels, Lucky Luke will not be for you. After dodging bullets, sweating led, and memorizing turtle locations, all you get for your efforts is a lackluster title screen with the words "The End." That's it. When you're done with this one, you may want a four-finger glass of sloe gin to calm your nerves.