Once again Team 17 has made the gamer in me happy, being a fan of Yooka-Laylee on the Switch a game that has seen its release on PS4, Xbox One and PC, a game that is, in its own right an hommage to Banjo-Kazooie from the days of the Nintendo 64. OK, the game might not have been perfect, but to me with its imperfections just made it even more retrospective. Move on to October 8th 2019 and Team17 along with Playtonic Games release a new game in the series ‘Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair‘. A game that takes inspiration from games such as Donkey Kong Country, everything is beautifully coloured, with 3D modelled main characters, enemies and primary level design while keeping the game a 2D platformer, with a stunning overworld.
Now Yooka-Laylee took me back to my younger years, the year I purchased my first games console, the Nintendo 64, played games such as the first Super Mario in 3D (Super Mario 64), what a revelation that was, the first Zelda Adventure also in 3D (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time), which is still my No1 game of all time.
Playing Playtonic’s hommage to Rares baby, just put a huge smile on my face, so many collectables, so many secrets… Now Playtonic has done it again, but can this game really reach the heights of the original Donkey Kong Country back on the Super Nintendo (SNES/Famicom), well let us find out.
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair follows on from Yooka-Laylee, but do not fret there is no need to have played the original to understand what is going on this game. You play as an adorable Chameleon named Yooka and his Bat friend called Laylee on an impossible quest? to rescue Queen Phoebee royal guards and take on Capital B’s impossible lair. It is a simple plot, just as simple as it was in the old days like Mario had to rescue princess peach from bowser or Donkey Kong Country was to rescue their bananas that were stolen by the Kremlings.
The game starts as always with a story and then you are progressing through a 2D platforming stage, after which you land on a 3D overworld a bit like the new Zelda: Links Awakening, just not as big or populated. Do you remember the overworld from Super Mario World All-Stars if not here us an image below;
The overworld would simply guide you to the next 2D platformer level. nothing much else, the overworld for Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair offers a generous amount of things to do, like solve puzzles and find secrets, its one of the best overworlds to a 2D platformer game I have ever seen and really pushes what we should expect going forward when a 2D platformer has an overworld to progress through. While hanging around the Overworld you can also solve a puzzle for each Level in the game, which will unlock an alternative version of that Level, and when re-entering that level you will find it is no longer the same and will offer more of a challenge.
The Overworld adds another level depth to the game, however, would you have prefered a simple overworld, which just leads to each stage, or is this level of depth something you enjoy, for me I rather enjoy it, for the child in me, I actually prefered the overworld stage from Super Mario World. So in a way, I would have not minded which version they decided to implement.
You will be entering, each stage to rescue imprisoned soldiers, there are a total of 48 to rescue, and each one you rescue will give you an extra hit point for the Impossible Lair, the ‘final level’ of the game. There is no need to resue all the imprisoned soldiers as you can tackle the final level whenever you want, based on your skills. However, the final level of the game, is @*&%£”& hard, no checkpoints and bind bogglingy long. The stages are stunning in design with plenty of nostalgia to be had, Yooka’s roll will remind you of Donkey Kong, the barrels that shoot him out and the vines he swings from, even the artwork and colours all remind you of the good ole days. I actually got out my SNES and grabbed my copy of Donkey Kong Country just to watch the intro and play a few stages, but I got to admit I love the start of the game.
Rare should have never gone to Microsoft as their skills and best team members lost all faith in the brand, this is why we have Playtonic, mistakes happen, and this for me was a huge one.
I found each stage in the game a challenge, you can speed run through them if you wish too, however, you will be missing all the collectables and secret areas like I did for my first run-through of many of the stages. I then took a step back and instead of speedrunning, I learnt the stage and found, well I hope I found everything. For gamers that only care about FPS, you will be happy to know that every game runs at a smooth 60fps which is needed for those quick responses. The music in this game is for certain a love story to Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country as the tracks have been composed by David Wise and Grant Kirkhope, and if you know your history, you would know that they composed the soundtracks for the said mentioned games.
You could put a pair of headphones on and listen and just listen to the soundtrack, its fun and likeable, I don’t know maybe it is just me reminiscing of old times, but I really love this soundtrack.
What can I say about this game, its a challenge, but you do get infinite lives so there is no need to start the level or forced to start the level all over again, and if you die too many times you do get the option to skip that section, but I would say, try, try and try again, as you really do not want to miss a thing. Picking up quills allow you to purchase an array of tonics that are scattered around the overworld, and T.W.I.T. coins allow you to unlock those disgraceful paywalls erected by Trowzer the snake. Tonics are amazing just check out this video to see some of the tonics in action
Overall, I found this game difficult, a challenge, but truly memorable and a game I could go back to, well will be going back to as I have yet to collect everything in the game. It is colourful, well designed, has addictive gameplay, great soundtrack and plenty to do. For the price, you are getting a bargain here. Team17 and PlayTonic have done an amazing job here and this game should not be missed, if you are a fan of 2D platformers, or want a challenge.
If you are interested and still have some burning question head here for Team17 official Q&A, the game is out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch.
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