Published on April 11th, 2017 | by Zorbz
Summary: Made by the original Rare team that bought you classics such as Banjo Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country, comes newly formed studio ‘Playtonic’ with their debut title Yooka-Laylee. Like a shot of nostalgia straight to the heart, Yooka-Laylee aims to pick up right where they left off bringing back that collect-a-thon 3D platformer experience that a lot of N64 era kids have been so eagerly awaiting.
Concept: Much like games of the past, Yooka-Laylee is focused first on gameplay with a basic premise for the story as the backbone, which to really sell it short equates to the duo finding a fancy book, it gets stolen and they want it back. What these classic games made from the ex devs of Rare excelled at was a lot of quirkly little side missions that had some comedic banter between the protagonists and fellow NPCs filled with some light hearted ribbing and sass. This still rings true for Yooka-Laylee however now being in my late 20s, a lot of these jokes that would have made me chuckle as a kid, fall flat, however there are still some lines that’ll put a grin on this ol mug. That being said if you’re after an elaborate story then this really isn’t the game for you.
Graphics: Now technically this game is still an indie title, so funding was not on some crazy budget and in saying that it actually started as a successful kickstarter project, so with that in mind, don’t expect visuals on par with something like the recent ratchet and clank. With that being said, I will hand it to Playtonic for really putting in the effort to making this a pretty game considering the budget they had to work with, it’s very charming with great animations from the characters with large and unique worlds all with their own setting, beaming with vibrant colours and style. However, due to the size of some of these worlds, especially once you’ve expanded them by unlocking more ‘Pagies’ they can become quite empty, and you will find yourself running from point A to B with nothing really in between. This isn’t the case for all the worlds, but it is very noticeable in some areas where I feel they could have made them more tight-nit enclosed areas filled to the brim rather then just making them large for the hell of it.
Gameplay: On to the fun stuff. Now I will just say this up front, Banjo Kazooie is easily one of my top 5 games of ALL TIME, so safe to say, I was eagerly awaiting this release. Now, does this game live up to Banjo mechanically…yes and no. When first playing Yooka-Laylee everything will look, sound and to some extent feel the same as the games of old, however what I did find personally is that the characters feel too floaty in comparison to the heavy feeling you got from manoeuvring Banjo and Kazooie around. Why is this a problem you might ask? Well for precise platforming gaming to excel, you want to be able to have complete control over the character without them slipping off an edge or missing the jump you planned. This was a major concern for me within the first few hours of the game, however over time I felt I was able to adapt to this new feel and become quite graceful in my approach to timing, that was until the camera decided to wig out consistently and really became a hindrance. Once again though, the fixed camera angles become something you just have to work with until you find your groove. You will undoubtedly have your patience tested, especially in boss fights, but with persistence these issues can be overcome. Speaking of boss fights, one thing that most modern games do is put you straight back into the action after losing a life, Yooka-Laylee however makes you skip through all the dialogue before a battle, which just really grinds everything to a halt and can become quite annoying. So many times did I have to just give up on a task or boss and come back later after I calmed down from wanting to throw my controller through the TV. If you lack patience, then damn will this game test you. Now besides all the complaints I have, what is here is a faithful trip down memory lane with tons of missions to collect ‘Pagies’ sprawled across 5 massive worlds that have quite a bit of variety to them. You’ll collect powerups, buy new moves, access locations that were once blocked off, basically the tried and true ‘Metroidvania’ style of gaming. So for all it’s faults mechanically, it still has a lot going for it.
“WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?”
Sound: THE KINGS HAVE RETURNED! Legendary video game composers most noteworthy for their work with Rare, David Wise and Grant Kirkhope jump back at the helm as the composers for Yooka-Laylee. The best thing about Yooka-Laylee is hands down the music, from the sound effects, to the grunts and groans of the characters chatting as you read the dialogue to the amazing themes that play throughout the worlds, as soon as you start up the game you’re hit with this incredible feeling of nostalgia and damn does it feel good. The Donkey Kong Country and Banjo series have some of the best music in gaming period, so to bring back the original team is truly a blessing because they definitely deliver the goods.
Awesomeness: I think for me the stand out is easily the music. It is not often that a game shines through based on the music itself as it usually takes a back-seat and can actually be quite forgettable at times. The music in Yooka-Laylee really adds to the whole feel of the game and gets you humming along, legitimately putting you in a good mood whilst playing. It goes to show how important great sound design and composition can be. Now I may be bias as it does bring back nostalgia and speaking of nostalgia, this is another component of my ‘awesomeness’ section because the presentation, the look, the feel and as mentioned above, the music, all brings me back to an era of video games that I truly adored. Even if you haven’t played any of the DK or Banjo series or any other old Rare game for that matter, you will soon come to appreciate the work and love that the guys over at Playtonic put into everything they create.
Disney eat your heart out
Final Word: Was Yooka-Laylee everything I had hoped for, not quite, but damn did it feel good to play this style of game again. It has all the tools and foundation there but a few hiccups prevent it from being truly great. Given the budget and time frame the guys over at Playtonic had to create Yooka-Laylee, I feel that should a sequel be made in the future then we can expect great things, so here’s hoping.
Score out of 5 bugs