Yooka-Laylee Reviews

AuthorReview
Deranged Asylum
462,585 (270,855)
Deranged Asylum
TA Score for this game: 371
Posted on 04 April 17 at 21:39, Edited on 04 April 17 at 21:46
This review has 13 positive votes and 4 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
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Yooka-Laylee Review

Original Post

A spiritual successor, a brightly coloured playful love letter to one of video games classic bygone era’s; whatever way you opt to look at it, and boy is there plenty to gaze lovingly upon as you roll, flutter, spring and hop your way from one diverse world to the next, for the casual gamer, Playtonic Games Yooka-Laylee will undoubtedly succeed in striking a fun and harmonious chord, like that of the Pied Piper of Hamlin and his magical pipe.

Forget for a moment the likeness with which the game shares with its late nineties N64 counterpart, the Olympic-like runner speed in which it took to be successfully crowdfunded (38 minutes), the astronomically mind-blowing £2 million it would eventually go on to rake in during that very record-breaking campaign, or its recent controversial stint in the media spotlight following the swift and just removal of an outspoken YouTube celebrity as voice actor, Yooka-Laylee has had fans clambering over themselves for a sneak peak at the platformer ever since its announcement back in 2012. 5 years on and that rainbow coloured dream has finally landed.

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The dream of a group of ex-Rare developers, Yooka-Laylee re-introduces spritely coloured 3D worlds of the past; you know, the ones we all got caught up in as kids or young adults. Minutes, hours and days witted away, consumed by the exploration of otherworldly realms.

Full of quirky and cocky, yet lovable NPC characters to meet and interact with, each with their own woes and stories to tell, often undemanding, often complex puzzles to untangle and unravel along with a never-ending batch of story related objects to seek out and collect, to further enhance or progress through the magical journey, Yooka-Laylee serves up all of the above mentioned treats, but is it enough to rival that of its nostalgic inspiration?

The embodiment of everything that made the bear and the bird such a popular and widespread commercial success in 1998, Yooka-Laylee is a whimsical incorporation of everything you held dear or treasured about the late nineties N64 platforming adventure. The similarities between Banjo and Yooka run so deep that the closeness the pair share almost seemingly never ends, making it a tricky task to tell the two apart once you remove the chameleon and bat from the picture.

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Sharing practically everything but name…and even that runs mightily close, Yooka-Laylee does have an improbable allure to it; cleverly encapsulating one of video games greatest heydeys as Yooka, a bright green and instantly likeable chameleon along with his ‘utter disregard for personal space’ companion Laylee, a sarcastic purple bat venture throughout a corporate minefield on an adventure to bring an end to the reign of the atrocious Capital B, who together with sidekick Dr Quack have villainous ambitions to absorb every last piece of literature from the world around them.

Rare games are usually extremely bewitching, especially Banjo. One could comfortably forget in the near-twenty years that have passed since Banjo-Kazooie‘s inception how unbelievably blunt, off-the-cuff and downright cheeky NPC characters could and would be towards the player. Those arrogant characters who require assistance from you but aren’t overly helpful in ensuring that you ease their outrageous woes make a triumphant return here but are met swiftly by the sarcastic sharpness and wit of Laylee.

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Watching as both bat and one of Yooka-Laylee‘s large assortment of NPC’s indulge in a bit of back and forth banter opens wide the sentimental floodgates, it’s an underlying tone or running theme that served Banjo-Kazooie so well, and its approach results in the same effect here, never prolonging the rapport between characters to the point where it becomes tedious, never overselling the humour or comedy factor.

As you’d expect from a title that bears all the similarities, tropes and trademarks of nineties 3D platformers, the universe of Yooka-Laylee is a carefully drip-fed one; prompting players to explore the seedy corporate hallways of Hivory Towers in order to discover individual portals to unlocking its 5 different worlds, all of which positively bulge with NPC’s, challenges and a bounty of collectables to scout for.

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From the offset, we are introduced to the child-like home of the inseparable pair. Shipwreck Creek and the games opening world Tribalstack Tropics represent all the exciting qualities that combine so brilliantly to make games such as Banjo-Kazooie and Super Mario 64 such exceptional experiences.

The sheer vibrancy that alludes from the positive colours of the surrounding areas wonderfully bounce off one another, it’s an inviting prospect to any child, teenager or young at heart adult. Blink for a second and you could easily be right back there as luscious green hills littered with golden chests meet sturdy brown wooden bridges to cross while pure, clean-to-drink blue water flows freely underneath, begging the player to dive in and explore its depths.

With friendly and not so friendly NPC’s on hand to assist or divert our heroes on/from the path of their journey, Yooka-Laylee‘s opening forays provide the player with a basic understanding of game mechanics the ex-Rare developers helped to create with Banjo-Kazooie. As you playfully move through the lush tropics of Tribalstack to meet the characters on offer, you get a real sense of the challenges that lie ahead, as well as grasping a feel for the storyline behind the world hopping.

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The five worlds that combine to make up the bulk of Yooka-Laylee‘s story are separated not only by looks but by your very approach to getting the most from each one. Collecting Quill’s scattered throughout each world allows the player to purchase various moves from Trowzer, a travelling, slithering serpent of a salesman, always eager to teach Yooka and Laylee new abilities in return for a handful of your feathered friends.

These skills will have you backtracking to previous worlds to obtain items you simply could not grab before. However, to access entry to each world, players are required to gather Pagies, the game’s main source of currency.

Freeing one of many Pagies from the captivity of a cage, capturing ones that have been swept up by the wind or simply being rewarded by NPC’s for completion of a challenge or task, those pesky and often hard to obtain Pagies give players the ability to buy and unlock portals to new worlds, and even expand on those worlds to open new pathways or points of interest, including the chance to tackle the world boss.

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Waltzing your way through the slippery slopes or snow filled hillsides of Glitterglaze Glacier or navigating the unforgiving swamp-meets-Halloween themed boggy environments of Moodymarsh Maze, Yooka-Laylee‘s independent worlds are satisfyingly larger than that of anything the original Banjo could offer. However, despite the undeniably playful frolics or potentially tricky moments to be had while attempting traversal of these diverse worlds, I couldn’t help but feel that the developer had opted to hug a little too close to the world design models of the very titles it draws its inspiration from, not to mention the shallow and underwhelming amount of worlds on offer.

With the vast majority of Yooka-Laylee‘s sprawling worlds consisting of fun activities, interesting and humorous NPC’s and exploration that can lead to expansion, allowing for yet more exploration, affording players the luxury of a mere 5 worlds as opposed to the 15 found in Super Mario 64, unfortunately, diminishes some of the games early appeal. The absence of a suitable amount of worlds outside of the game’s main hub is an unpleasant sight, but it remains one of Yooka-Laylee‘s few faults.

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Movement and control of this unlikely pair although far from feeling polished is easy enough to master, with each newly acquired ability serving its purpose to help the player negate their surroundings. Without exploration and the collection of Quills, players will forever be stuck staring up, glancing across at or endlessly confused by an aspect they could comfortably pass through with the appropriate move.

When not bemoaning the significant lack of actual worlds, I also found problems with the games camera angles. At times while attempting to navigate an area or solve a puzzle, Yooka-Laylee‘s camera would lock, fixed in a rather unhelpful position, and at a certain angle that constantly forced me into a fight against it to gain a better view of my surroundings, it was a rare occurance but certainly one that shouldn’t happen in 2017.

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Visually, you can’t fault Yooka-Laylee‘s style. The games aesthetic is colourfully gorgeous yet also dull, drab and murky when it needs to be. A theme fitting of the genre, but when you consider its inspiration or its pre-determined motives, I would have been surprised if that aspect of the game had somehow managed to fall by the wayside. The same can be said of its soundtrack, a perfect accompaniment for the platformer that feels friendly at times and daunting at others, Playtonic found the right blend of style and sound to keep the game entertaining.

Conclusion

Full of colour, charm and discovery, Playtonic Games set out in 2012 to revive a by-gone era genre long thought to be dead, and for the most part, this group of ex-Rare developers have succeeded. The product of a very successful crowdfunding campaign, Yooka-Laylee is enchantingly adorable with its humorous NPC’s, nods to both past and modern video game culture, whimsical worlds, enjoyable challenges and good comradery between main characters.

However, for all that it does so very well, it also succeeds in falling foul to a significant shortage of world’s, annoying fixed camera geometry and an underwhelming story; still the opportunity to embark on a ‘collectathon’ of an adventure will likely prove too much for the casual gamer in most of us to pass on.
There are 10 comments relating to this Review | Please log in to comment on this solution.
NeoRyuu777
197,624 (89,436)
NeoRyuu777
TA Score for this game: 1,952
Posted on 12 April 17 at 19:19, Edited on 12 April 17 at 19:19
This review has 4 positive votes and 1 negative vote. Please log in to vote.
Yooka-Laylee is a fun, bright platformer that was purposely designed to bring back the feelings of some of Rare's best games in the N64 era. Like Banjo-Kazooie before it, Yooka-Laylee features a dynamic duo who explore worlds and collect various items, learning new moves along the way to expand their exploration.

The worlds themselves are enormous, requiring hours to fully explore... and that's without expanding them. Using Pagies - the world-opening currency of the game - every world can be expanded, providing new locations to visit and collectibles to acquire.

The music for each world I've been through thus far has been delightful on the ears, reminding me strongly of the music present in Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie.

The character interaction between Yooka, Laylee and the various NPCs has been lovingly done in the same irreverent style that Rare was known for. With snark, sarcasm, some adult humor and the occasional reference, Playtonic delivered on having fun dialogue that never quite crosses the line.

As for my overall impression... I fully admit to being biased about this game. My brother and I both helped crowdfund Yooka-Laylee, because we sincerely loved Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong 64... all those collectible-based platforming adventures that we grew up with. And the minute it was accessible, he and I loaded it up, and spent hours just enjoying the familiar sounds and music as we explored. We laughed and groaned at the jokes and the snark, and simply enjoyed the game as it was meant to be enjoyed. For us, Yooka-Laylee may as well have been named Nostalgia: The Game.

And that was the point. From the very beginning, Playtonic wanted to "create a spiritual successor to our most cherished work" (quoted from the Kickstarter page). I would say they succeeded.
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amillent
274,455 (164,410)
amillent
TA Score for this game: 1,952
Posted on 02 May 17 at 01:48
This review has 1 positive vote and 0 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
What happens when you take some of the greatest development team ever to grace our industry and combine that with a game that is so jam packed with nostalgia and love for a genre that has all but gone dark? A nice gem that takes everything from collectathon games of years past and puts them into a nice little present that I think will do a fine job at bringing those old fans back and opening the doors to a whole new audience.

If you grew up with games there is a very very high chance you have played a game that the fine people at the newly founded Playtonic Games has previously had their hands on. Everything from Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo-Kazooie, Conker's Bad Fur Day, and all the way to Killer Instinct these guys have had a hand in. When Rare was bought out by Microsoft most of the core original team slowly departed as years went on but, after seeing the types of games they loved to make all but disappear they decided to take things into their own hands. After getting one of the highest crowdfunded projects ever on Kickstarter it was just a matter of time before Yooka-Laylee was in our hands.

As soon as you begin the game and are in the starting menus you can see the direct reference to their previous work (most notably Banjo-Kazooie) from the reminiscent but yet new tunes from Grant Kirkhope,to the google eyes put on absolutely everything they could. I was hit with a wave of emotion and instantly brought back to my childhood exploring these big open worlds and being introduced to some of the most memorable moments I still hold dear. Before digging into this game I should probably note here that I will probably be extremely biased towards this game and Playtonic in general just from the younger years they gave to me.

Yooka-Laylee follows the story of a chameleon and a bat named rightfully Yooka and Laylee respectfully. The duo ventures from the safety of their home, Shipwreck Creek and into the corporate building of Hivory Towers ran by Capital B who is out to collect all of the worlds books for himself to turn into profit. Our heroic duo search throughout the towers to find things called Grand Tomes, your entry-point into the 5 worlds of the game to collect Pagies. Pagies allow you to open up future Grand Tomes to learn new moves that let you traverse farther towards Capital B. Each world you come across features a plethora of activities and characters to meet in their beautifully crafted worlds. After you collect enough Pagies you are able to expand the worlds often doubling their size and opening up whole new sections full of collectables, thats not saying you will be able to 100% a world as parts are still often inaccessible without later moves and abilities you will purchase will Quills from your good ol' pal Trowzer the Snake.

The actual gameplay of Yooka-Laylee has you using the duo to traverse the world by rolling around on-top of Yooka like a ball or floating around through the air holding onto Laylee for dear life. You will come across many characters that force you to use a mix of all of your abilities to earn a pagie from them, even the indie hero Shovel Knight makes a couple brief cameos where he needs your help to find lost treasure. Oh by the way you remember those good old mine cart levels from Donkey Kong Country back in the day? Good, because they make a return here where you take a trip throughout the levels riding your new friend Kartos collecting gems and maybe even fighting a boss here or there.

Overall Yooka-Laylee is one of the greatest experiences and frankly the offspring of something I never thought we'd see again. Packed to them brim with charm and a loving cast of iconic characters you can't help but to stop and awe at this game when you see it. When Playtonic promised to bring back the N64 era platformer they did it with the utmost respect. I strongly urge everybody to at least give this game a chance. Who knows this could be just the thing we needed to start a surge of N64 style platformers from indie devs.
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