While the console to mobile transition has become somewhat common, the mobile to console move has been a little less popular. Sure, there have been some big name converts, such as Angry Birds and Halo: Spartan Assault, but really, the less said about them the better. Surprisingly enough, the best examples of this shift have come from smaller developers such as Frogmind (Badland) or, in this case, 1337 & Senri. Working off their original iOS and Android release, the two studios, along with Tilting Point, have brought the acclaimed Leo’s Fortune to current-gen consoles, Mac and Windows PC.
I came up with several different ways of describing the titular character in Leo’s Fortune, but I think the one that fits best is that he is a Scrooge McDuck-like kooshball with a moustache and a Russian accent. He’s a greedy little poof, and after his fortune of gold disappears under mysterious circumstances, he must set out in order to bring it home. Perhaps out of the bottom of his heart, the thief, who Leo thinks is one of his estranged relatives, has helpfully laid out a path of gold coins for him to follow. And, while this may seem like a trap, he must continue along this way, with the hope of discovering who perpetuated this annoying crime.
Told through black and white cutscenes, Leopold’s tale is a fairly innocuous affair, and by the time you get through one of the earlier worlds, you’ll have a good idea of where the plot will end up by its conclusion. However, while it’s a fairly predictable story, the voiceover from Leo is such a joy to listen to. The accent is ridiculous, especially coming from a mustachioed tribble, but it fits the game’s off-kilter world.
Although it ditches its original touch controls, Leo’s Fortune remains a traditional side-scrolling platformer. The 24 main levels have Leopold jumping, gliding and slamming his way through a variety of dangerous locales. There are no enemies or bosses to worry about, though, so the main danger our hero faces are the various spiked obstacles littering his path.
With no enemies to design around, 1337 & Senri were able to make the controls as lean and simple as possible. You can double tap the jump button in order to have Leo puff up and glide, while another button lets him shift his weight downward, which causes him to plummet to the ground. While these simplistic controls may seem like a detriment, the developers were able to effectively design each level so that it never really feels like you’re doing the same thing ad nauseam. For example, one section of levels features strong gusts of wind wreaking havoc, which can be navigated through while gliding and falling. Another section takes place largely underwater, where Leopold can sink to the bottom, but shoot right back up with force if he chooses to puff up.
Don’t let the lack of opposition fool you, though, as Leo’s Fortune can be downright brutal at times. Leo can only take a single hit, so navigating spike filled mazes and puzzles feels much more urgent than it would’ve if he had been given a health bar. The first four or so levels take things slow, but once the title starts throwing rotating spiked platforms, rock-balanced poles that can easily be tipped and lightning-quick buzzsaws at you, you’ll begin to see that the game isn’t as light and fluffy as our hero is. Thankfully, the controls hold up for the most part during these tough sections, though there were a few times where I went sliding off straight platforms with little movement on my part. Though a lenient checkpoint system offsets this problem, it definitely bugged me the few times it occurred.
The biggest issue with this game, and this may have come from its mobile origins, is that it’s a little too short. Its 24 levels only took me about three hours to run through, although I didn’t three-star all of them.
In order to earn all three stars for each level, you’ll need to collect every coin, finish under a certain time and progress without dying. This is more or less set up in order to bring people back to the game, but earning a set amount of stars in each level does unlock bonus mini-games, and completing the game also opens up Hard Mode, which tasks you with playing through its entirety without dying. While the cheap cost ($6.99) does help alleviate the issue, I would have liked to have seen a few more levels added on.
Although I never had a chance to play the original release, by most accounts, Leo’s Fortune was one fine-looking title. And, by taking advantage of the power advantage provided by current-gen consoles, the game now boasts 1080p HD visuals. Honestly, if I wasn’t already aware of the its history, I would have never known it started life as a mobile release, because it looks beautiful. Leo looks appropriately hairy, but the real highlight comes from the levels. The locations are unique and the lighting of each stage is some of the best I have seen in a plaformer. Whether it be the searing sun across a desert, or a swinging light bulb, the effect is great.
While this may sound like hyperbole, Leo’s Fortune reminds me of a more modern Donkey Kong Country. Sure, it may not feature crocodiles for you to throw barrels at, but the same excellent platforming can be seen in both titles. The comparison to Rare’s iconic release could also stem from the graphics, which have that same CG look to them, although the HD looks better here. Although I wouldn’t go as far as to say that this is on par with DK’s adventure, despite its brief length, it’s another solid release in the resurgent platforming genre.
This review was based on the Xbox One version of the title, which was provided to us for review purposes.
If you're willing to look past its brief length, Leo's Fortune is a cleverly designed and gorgeously rendered example of platforming gold.