Before we even get to talk about Yooka-Laylee, let’s go back in time, before Invision, before I was at GAME, before I was in the building trade, when I owned the Nintendo 64 and RARE was one of Nintendo’s main game developers, the time when games were still flourishing into the 3D genre, the time where Zelda: Ocarina of Time introduced us to Open World Gameplay. I remember those years, playing Mario 64, Killer Instinct, Perfect Dark, Conkers Bad Fur Day, 007 Golden Eye, Donkey Kong County and so on, all RARE games, of course, there were many more games.
Banjo-Kazooie was a great platform game developed By RARE, a series that stars a bear called Banjo and his bird Friend Kazooie, who must thwart the evil plans of a witch called Gruntilda. The games basic premise of saving the damsel in distress was a common feature in many games, even now we still see it, poor princes’ Peach, thanks to the games non-linear levels you must use both characters unique abilities to gather Jigsaw pieces, solve puzzles, clear obstacles and defeat those pesky enemies. The game was praised for its level design, graphics and sound, and won two awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.
Banjo-Kazooie brought me many hours of fun, laughter, and that memorable speech, every character might have talked in some strange language, but each of them had its own unique tone, and each tone well suited the character it was portraying. The names of some of the characters in the game put a smile on your face, Tooty, Mumbo Jumbo or the mystical spell book aka the cheat book Cheato, it might sound childish, but it was more about the experience and fun the game had to offer.
Now let’s move forward May 2015 a Kickstarter project appeared, a bunch of ex-RARE developers banded together to form Playtonic Games and announced Yooka-Laylee. An all new 3D platformer, starring two new characters Yooka a green Lizzard and a wise-cracking lady bat called Laylee. Their ultimate goal, to bring back the good old platform goodness that has so much been missing into days games, adding memorable characters, great story, plenty of bosses and that wonderful communication of burp and farts.
The Kickstarter exploded and their original $175.000 goal was blown away within 38mins of going live, then within 21hrs, they hit $1million when the Kickstarter finally ended they had hit $2.090.104 with 73,206 backers. Yooka-Laylee is currently the highest-funded UK Video game in Kickstarter history, impressive don’t you think. Now with the Project funded, backers waiting, it was time to create their dream, and with Team17 behind them as their Indie Publishing house, there was no stopping them and on the 11th of April 2017 Yooka-Layee gets released to its adoring public, backers and fans of RARE.
Let’s kickstart the Review… Pan in
A simple plot line and a simple story, just as what you would expe’ct, Yooka- & Laylee sitting down relaxing at their homestead ‘Shipwreck Creek, Laylee, discovered a magical book, unknown to them Capital B wants to use Dr.Quack’s Invention known as the Noveliser 64 to steal the world’s books, converting them into pure profit. While the Magical book was being sucked into the device, it tore apart, scattering hundreds of ‘Pages’ from the book across the world. These pages are known as ‘Pagies’, they are also gold, why not, collecting these ‘Pagies’ will help Yooka & Laylee open up new worlds and expand old ones. The ultimate plan is to thwart the evil plans of Capital B, yes he is a Bee, and DR. Quack, yes, he is a duck, a duck in an old school vending machine, with a fish tank on top filled with pink water and a few other attachments to boot, don’t believe me google it.
There is so much to do within this game from the aforementioned main question to loads and loads of side quests, all of which help you progress through the game. The side Quests, OMG, they are eye watering, stupid, funny and charming, from helping Shovel Knight, yes you heard that right Shovel Knight from the developers Yacht Club Games, who wants you to help him find some hidden treasure, playing mini-games in a retro arcade machine, Karting, or quizzes, these are just of the side missions you can obtain, find and enjoy.
Throughout the world you will meet interesting and unique characters, each with their very own tone to the way they speak, bringing each character life in their own unique style, gibberish, there are so many to talk to, each of them will make you smile, laugh or wonder, ‘what have I got myself into here’.
Keeping to the formula of moving through the game, you will also need to learn new skills, from the very start of the game you meet a character called character called Trowzer, a snake that likes to wear shorts and a hat, how does he move around, is beyond my comprehension, the developers knew how? Trowzer will teach you new abilities in return for Quills collected around the world, I did say there was plenty to collect did I not? oh well, now you know.
Ok,Ok, Collectables, just a few I shall tell you about, well you know about ‘Pagies’ and ‘Quills’, there are also Vendi who gives out Play Tonics, gameplay modifiers, they change the game world and enhance abilities and stats, I would recommend not using them, you will find out at the end of the game why not.. Play Coins are scattered around, use these to unlock the arcade machine hidden around a zone, once unlocked, they stay unlocked, that was just some of them, there are plenty more to find.
Understand one thing, not like some games were collectable items equal an achievement and nothing else, collectables are done right in this game, every collectable is worth something to help you in the game.
Since we have two characters to play, how does it all manage to come together, well absolutely perfect, moving from Yooka to Laylee and back, through combat and platforming works exactly as you would expect, perfect. The only issue I found on times was the damn camera; it sometimes had a mind of its own. (Can we have a truly unlocked camera, instead of it dropping down by itself or locking up and not allowing for a full turn).
There is one character you must meet, Rextro, a Polygon Dinosaur, why should you want to meet him, well he provided you with access to some great old school arcade challenges, and help break up the game, if you need a break from all the platforming, trust me, you will be visiting Rextro a lot, not because you are bored, you might just be, for me it was simply, because it was so much fun.
I would tell you what worlds are available and how many there are, but nah, not going to spoil that for you, let’s say there is enough to dig your teeth into and enjoy hours and hours of fun. OK, People have requested this and my opinion so this has been added after going live, there are a total of five worlds, each world can be expanded, out of the five worlds only one world seems out of place, that’s the casino world, every other world, has been designed well, and will bring your hours are fun and frolics finding every single collectable.
Now, sounds in the game, you have the characters, with their own tone to each voice, with that unique approach to speech, but you also have the music score (OST), all I wish to say here is it’s simply glorious, they have scored everything perfect, from the zone you are in, to the boss fight you are attempting, to the awesome old school arcade games, there is nothing out of place when it comes to this aspect of the game.
So what do I think of the game?
Yooka-Laylee has put a massive smile on my face, brought back so much nostalgia, RARE to me back then were just as good as Nintendo, their games were highly playable, colourful, and full of quirks and charms. Yooka-Laylee, is everything and a whole lot more, it is the finest 3D platformer to grace a system since ‘Super Mario Galaxy’ or back in the 90s, the launch of ‘Super Mario 64’ which was an achievement back then, and surpasses Banjo-Kazooie without ruining what the game brought to Nintendo/RARE fans back in the good old 90s.
The game is, well, I as expected, cartoony and fun, it’s like they brought everything they created from the 90s classic game, added some year on year technology achievements mixed it all together and chucked it on a plate for us to drool over, everything smells of good old RARE. It’s like Sunday Dinner, smells good, looks good, tastes good, everything I want from a Sunday dinner in a digital form and I love my Sunday dinner. Yooka-Laylee is a MUST BUY for anyone looking for a good old-fashioned 3D platformer, A MUST BUY GOD DAMN IT, BUY IT.
P.S There are flaws in the game like the camera, however, I personally feel, they did not in anyway make me not love playing this game.
Yooka-Laylee was reviewed on PC via steam the game will also be available for Playstation 4, Xbox One and Soon Nintendo Switch, which I will be grabbing as well.