Platform: PS4 (Reviewed) / Xbox One / Nintendo Switch / PC / Mac / Linux
Developer: Playtonic Games
Publisher: Team 17
Release date: April 2017 (Switch release in 2017)
TL;DR: Remember games like Banjo Kazooie? That style is back and better than ever.
Price: £29 / $40
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
With over seventy thousand backers supporting the game at its beginnings, quite a few of you may have already been bought in by Yooka-Laylee’s promise of platforming, adventuring and many more -ings besides.
One particular -ing, may ring the loudest: reminiscing.
Platformers, have come a long way over the years. From their beginnings in 2D with Mario and Sonic, then onwards to their evolution to 3D with Crash Bandicoot and Banjo Kazooie to the retro-tinted glance back in a 2.5D view, the genre’s path has taken interesting directions over the years. More recently, the platforming genre has been significantly overwhelmed by the Puzzle Platformers made famous by the likes of Limbo. It’s been quite the journey for a simple style of running and jumping.
You could argue that Yooka-Laylee is a celebration of one particular platformer style, made famous by the likes of Banjo Kazooie its hilariously foul-mouthed brother, Conker’s Bad Fur Day. With open-world exploration, colourful characters and a helpful dash of humour, these platformers provides a small snippet of story before setting you loose to explore with very minimal guidance.
Yooka-Laylee is certainly no exception. After all, the majority of developers will have entries from Rare in their CVs, back from when they worked on Banjo and Conker. In this world, Yooka the Lizard and Laylee the Bat are interrupted from a post-decoration rest by their prized book being kidnapped by the evil Capital B. Broken apart into hundreds of Pagies, your mission is to reclaim those lost Pagies so Yooka and Laylee can, erm, sell it.
Money makes the world go round, after all! It doesn’t take long for a task-based economy to form around these lost Pagies. Complete a quest and get a Pagie. The rewards are uniform and whilst they may not come as a surprise over time, you know exactly what you’re going to get. Now… if only I could get away with paying TaskRabbiters with Pagies…
In any case, those Pagies are your hidden golden tickets that you’re tasked to find and find them you must. It’s up to you to find out where those Pagies and who you must appease in order to yield a Pagie from them. Whether it’s collecting objects, defeating bosses or even flirting with flowers (you read correctly), you’ll be spoiled with the number of quests for you to discover. That is of course, so long as you can remember what it is you were meant to do when you come back. Much like the original Banjo Kazooie, there is no such thing as a journal to keep track of what your quest objectives are. You’ll just have to remember what it is you have to do and if you forget, then hop on off to your quest givers to double check with them once more. Most of these quests are really fun in their own right and there are plenty of them to go round in each world.
An interesting quirk with the worlds in Yooka-Laylee is their ability to evolve. Spend a few Pagies back at the home hub in Ivory Towers and you’ll be treated with an expansion to the world. If the already large level was showing its boundaries a bit too much, then you’re treated with even more sections to dive into an explore. On top of that, some areas of the worlds may be tricky to get past unless you’ve unlocked the right move to clear a certain obstacle. This will encourage you to come back to that part of the world once you’re properly equipped.
So we have a fun platformer with colourful levels. Check.
Add in expandable levels and an insane amount of quests to do. Check.
There’s one last point I’d like to draw attention to and is, I believe, Yooka-Laylee’s strongest point. It knows how to crack a good joke.
Yooka-Laylee’s puns and humourous asides in conversation are key portions of what makes the game such a joy to play, I believe. I couldn’t help but chuckle at the conversations that Yooka and Laylee were having either between themselves or with characters across the world. A lot of it is likely to fly past the minimum age group that can play the game, but these jokes will certainly tickle seasoned gamers and perhaps the parents of wee ones that might have a go.
You’ll meet this chap very early on so I can’t really class this as a spoiler. So for the mature audiences I’d like to test your sense of humour on one particular character. I’ll scrape myself up out of the gutter once you’re done…
I’ll leave that thought there as it is, save to say that the game’s humour really made it more of an amazing experience for me. Incidentally, Trowzer will be your best friend when it comes to unlocking new moves.
Yooka-Laylee may present itself initially as a normal family platformer. With local co-op thrown in it makes for a really fun game to sit down and play together. Throw in some incredibly fun level design and a slick sense of humour and you have yourself a title that is certainly worthy of sitting alongside its predecessors as a prime example of the platforming genre.
Kickstarter backers; pat yourselves on the back. You chose a good ‘un!
(Switch note: Playtonic announced ahead of the game’s release that they were planning on shifting work from their Wii U version to the Nintendo Switch. I reckon that Yooka-Laylee will be an absolutely fantastic fit for the console when it eventually does release. Keep your eyes peeled here on GGS and we’ll let you know once we know any more on when to expect the release of the Switch version.
What Rocks! :)
- Colourful world that’s begging to have every corner explored.
- Easy-to-pick-up controls and fun gameplay
- Jokes and puns aplenty that certainly tickled my sense of humour
What Sucks :(
- It’s like the old-school platformers, so don’t expect too much hand-holding and definitely don’t expect a quest list. Wasn’t a problem for me but it might be a notable omission for some.
- I would have loved to have seen the inclusion of voice acting.
- Quacker’s quizzes are amusing, but at times frustrating.
Yooka-Laylee is rated PEGI 7 in Europe and E10+ in the Americas. Cartoon violence is the notable paremeter that you may see attached to this game, but it’s certainly nothing too threatening for the family living room.
Some of the jokes are certainly intended for those of an older vintage than the rating may suggest, making this a game that should have something for everyone.