As a child of the 90’s 3D platformers hold a special place in my heart. The day I bought my first N64 I became a new man. Donkey Kong 64, Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie are the first three that come to mind. I loved 3D platformers. My mom didn’t like me playing violent games and to be honest neither did I. I much preferred hunting for collectibles long before I had an internet guide to help me out.
Yooka-Laylee captures that 90’s 3D platformer feel to a tee. This mainly works in the game’s favor. Yooka-Laylee is developed by Playtonic Games and published by Team17. A group of several former key personnel from Rare during the good ol’ N64 days developed this game at Playtonic. In a sense, Yooka-Laylee is a spiritual successor to the Banjo-Kazooie game series with hints of Donkey Kong 64 sprinkled in. Where Banjo-Kazooie was a play on the banjo and kazoo musical instruments, the title of Yooka-Laylee is a play on the ukulele, and you’ll hear a lot of ukulele noises in your playthrough.
If you were one of the 80,000 backers of Yooka-Laylee I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Yooka-Laylee is a rare great 3D platformer that perfectly captures the nostalgia of the 90s.
I only received the game yesterday so I’m roughly 6-7 hours in but I am really enjoying myself and it’s not because of the sorta illegal substance I consumed before playing. It’s because the game is bursting at the seams with charm. I’m not totally sold on the two main characters, Yooka-Laylee but I love the characters they interact with. I’ve heard more dad jokes in my short playthrough then I have my whole life, and I’m ok with that. I love dad jokes. This might look like a kid’s game but it’s full of crude innuendo. If I had a Brock Jr I’d sit and watch these jokes fly right over his big fat head. And then wrestle the controller from his little clammy hands because I wanted to play. Father of the year right here!
I’m eager to get back to the game and finish it this week before losing myself for the next year playing Persona 5 so here are some quick impressions.
The Control Scheme is absolutely top notch. Controlling both Yooka and Laylee together is an absolute delight.
A ton of Collectibles. Each level has 200 Quills to find, as well as Pagies, Atoms, Monsters and probably more I haven’t discovered. Collecting these items will unlock new worlds and enhance existing worlds that will further unlock new challenges. Quills will also be used to grant you new abilities when you visit a Snake with a hat named Trowzer. Trowzer Snake. Get it?
The Humour. This isn’t a game made just for kids. The jokes are subtle enough to please us kids from the 90s. There’s a lot of tongue-in-cheek self-aware jokes that capture the feeling of Saturday morning cartoons from back in the day. This is definitely a 90’s Rare game at its core.
The Story is wild and absurd just the way it should be. My biggest complaint about last year’s big 3D platformer Rachet & Clank was how convoluted and lame the story was. Yooka-Laylee is very self aware of what it is and has no problem making fun of itself.
The Camera is not your friend. It can be a real pain in the ass.
Yooka & Laylee don’t hit the same chord that Banjo & Kazooie struck with me. They also are my least favourite characters so far. It’s not to say I don’t like them, they just haven’t grown on me.
Not enough Voice Acting. This is a small nitpick but I’d have liked to hear either cheesy 90’s movie trailer narration or some more voice acting. In no way does this detract from the game, I would have just enjoyed it.
Honestly, at this point in my playthrough, the only real problem is the shoddy camera. I’m very curious to try the multiplayer games later tonight.
Yooka-Laylee is a very faithful Banjo-Kazooie successor. It’s a lot of fun. I plan on diving in this afternoon and not stopping until I fall asleep. If you liked Rare in the 90’s then you’re going love what Playtonic has created. This truly feels like a labor of love and it shows. It’s been a long time coming, and I’ll admit I was very skeptical about the game but it’s completely blown me away. It’s also worth noting that I’ve discovered no collectibles as infuriating as the colored bananas in DK64.
I’ll have a full review on the Game Moose Podcast on Sunday.
Release date: April 11, 2017
Developer: Playtonic Games
Genre: 3D Platformer
Platform: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Linux, MacOS, Windows, Nintendo Switch
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital code provided by the publisher on an Xbox One S.