Anyone who grew up gaming in the 90’s knows of the joys and the frustrations that came along with Banjo-Kazooie-type of platformer games. I know from the hundreds if not thousands of times I’ve died – missing a jump by just an inch – that these frustrations are very real. But with all the headaches came some of the most fun gameplay around, which is why it is no surprise that the announcement of Yooka-Laylee got many 90’s gamers, myself included, very excited.
The nostalgic feels really hit hard right off the bat in Yooka-Laylee, the all-new 3d platformer that boasts to be the “spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie.” Right from the beginning the game feels just like a Banjo game. This comes as no surprise because some of the team over at Playtonic games used to work for Rare on the Banjo games.
Our new heroes, the tongue-whipping chameleon Yooka and wisecracking lady-bat Laylee, were created by the same character artist behind N64 heroes Banjo and Kazooie. In fact, they are pretty much carbon copies of Banjo and Kazooie, but with a modern sheen. The vibrant colors within the game mixed with your classic platform style helped me realize once more just how great this genre can be.
The game is set up very simply. There are 5 worlds and one menu type world that acts as a transition from one world to the other. Within the transitionary level the game teaches you how to use some of the main mechanics before entering the world. While some of the worlds were great, others fell very short from what is expected.
The casino world is one of the most pointless levels in just about any video game I’ve ever played. While it might make sense in other video games, it only takes away from Yooka-Laylee. Every other world seemed to match a common theme: the elements. Its just hard to see how casino fits in with the themes of the other worlds. The level itself is just extremely boring. There isn’t much else to do there except for gamble on one of the machines. Don’t even get me started on the fact that you need to gamble in order to obtain collectables. This was the major weak point within the game.
The collectable system within the game was typical with this style of game. There were gold feathers, which were everywhere on the map, and there were pagies. The pagies were the rare ones that usually were accompanied by some sort of task or puzzle. The golden feathers were used in exchange for new skills or even a new buff to increase stamina and the like. Pagies were the main requirement as you were required to get a certain amount to be granted access to other worlds and bosses.
The bosses are a lot of fun. From the very first boss it was clear that they would not be easy. Maybe it was just my play style, but the bosses are fairly difficult. They all seemed to kill me multiple times. The combination of the abilities and mechanics made it fairly difficult to complete the boss battles.
The mechanics within the game are fairly good. While the physics at times felt a bit off, Yooka-Laylee is easy to get through mechanically. The way new skills and moves are introduced make the game very easy to learn.
If you were to pick up the reigns of Yooka and Laylee about halfway through the game for the first time you may have no idea how to overcome certain obstacles. This is because they implement certain obstacles that require you to use specific skills. This is one thing that made the game somewhat challenging, but that comes with just about any platformer.
My one problem with the mechanics aside from the physics is the camera. It seemed to me that the camera had a mind of its own at times. You could move the camera to the perfect angle to complete a task, but as soon as you move the camera would sometimes lock on to a completely arbitrary point. I couldn’t tell you the amount of times I fell off a platform or missed a jump because of the camera itself, but it was a lot.
Graphically, Yooka-Laylee is everything the fans wanted. The vibrant colors combined with the cartoon-like graphics combined to create the perfect combination for a platformer. No matter what world you decided to take on, there was something within all of them that kept me wanting to explore and see what the limitations within that level were.
It is safe to say that Yooka-Laylee is a great revival of the platform genre. With the minor problems mentioned, there is some room for improvement. While it has its weak points, the game as a whole makes for a great experience that gamers everywhere will enjoy.
Graphics - 8/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Design - 7.5/10
Nostalgia Hits Hard
Along with any platformer comes a lot of nostalgic moments. The combination of the graphics, comedic dialog and overall design make Yooka-Laylee the platformer to play on your console of choice.