Yooka-Laylee is a platforming title that goes back to the roots of the 3D platformer in the best way possible. The staff behind Yooka-Laylee are ex-Rare staff and were present during Rare’s golden age back on the Nintendo 64.  It’s clear that the passion for our beloved 3D platformers of the N64 era shine through Yooka-Laylee. Even though it takes elements from titles like Banjo Kazooie, Conkers Bad Fur Day and Super Mario 64, Yooka-Laylee still offers a fresh experience, with a massive pile of nostalgia, filled with beautiful worlds that make you want to explore every nook and cranny.

Yooka-Laylee is a nostalgia trip, and those that grew up with Rare platformers will remember the 3D platformer genre before it got too simplistic, there was challenge and no hand holding like most modern 3D platformers tend to follow.

In YooKa-Laylee the main focus is to collect Pagies. Pagies are similar to the Puzzle Pieces that you would have collected in Banjo Kazooie. The Pagies are a talkative shiny page that have been released from a mysterious book, scattered across several worlds, the Pagies combined have the ability to control the universe. Capital B is the one who wishes to collect all the Pagies to have control over every poor soul. Yooka and Laylee of course want to stop that from happening. You must travel into every “book world” to find the missing Pagies and stop Captial B ruling the universe. Sound nostalgic enough?

The story, even though simplistic, and also joking throughout the dialogue with characters that the story is typical and silly, it offers enough for a platformer. Each world you jump into you will be focused on collecting Pagies to progress onto the next world or expand the current world you are in. Each world starts off in its first form and can be expanded, but will cost a certain amount of Pagies to do so. I recommend exploring each world as they come first, as when the worlds are expanded it adds a lot more to explore, meaning you might miss out on a few things before the world expands.

Those that are fond of collecting will love Yooka-Laylee as there are various items to collect; Ghost Writers, these are the original authors of the Grand Tomes, and they have been cursed and left to wonder in their creations. If you collect all 5 of the Ghost Writers in each world you will gain a single Pagie. PlayTonics are essentially tonics that offer modifiers for Yooka-Laylee granting them new abilities. These are purchasable from Vendi’s, and only one can be used at a time.  Quills are essentially the in-game currency and what you will find scattered all over each world. Collect Quills to purchase new moves from Trowzer (yes he’s a snake).  Minecart Gems are found during Kartos Challenges, collect a certain amount per world and you will be granted a Pagie.  A collectible I am very fond of finding is the PlayCoin’s, this collectible unlocks an arcade machine permanently in the world that you use the coin in.  You hand the coin into Rextro, a dinosaur that hangs out by arcade machines reminiscing about the “good old days”. Once you hand a coin in you will gain unlimited plays on the machine you have unlocked. There are 8 arcade machines in total.  There are also hidden pirate treasure chests to be found.

The amount of collectables is really quite something and really does throwback to the older platformers. It offers a great incentive to be thorough in the worlds and replay value is very strong with a platformer of this calibre. The approach to the design of the world and some of the characters are charming; the environments boast colour and each offer a unique charm to them all which is key for a platformer, especially one focusing on the replication of 90’s platformers.

The downfall for Yooka and Laylee comes to the voice acting and the writing is very average. It’s identical to Banjo Kazooie to an extent in regards to tone.  We may have enjoyed the quirky tone of the jibba-jabba that were coming from characters in universes like Banjo Kazooie and Conkers back in the 90’s,  the choice of vocalisation and use of squeaks, beeps, and random nonsense gets very tedious and irritating. I get the fact it’s used for nostalgia purposes but I feel it’s something that they could have improved.  Thankfully some of the supporting cast throw out some decent dialogue and sounds, Rextro and Trowser are two of the characters that I didn’t have an issue talking too. Trowser throws out a few comical lines here and there and Rextro talks about arcade classic’s with a few references to the N64 thrown in for good measure. The soundtrack, however, takes the charm of Banjo Kazooie and adds a nice mix of tracks that help intensify the nostalgia.

Those that are looking and expecting this kind of audio for the dialogue won’t be disappointed that the general delivery of the story is slightly tarnished because of it. It’s the only issue I have had with the whole game in all honesty, it nails everything a 3D platformer should do, solid platforming, collectables, beautiful and large environments and enjoyable lead characters.  For those that have wanted a true 3D platformer, Yooka-Laylee brings back the tradition and expands on it.

The gameplay shines and is possibly the best of its genre. Controlling Yooka and Laylee together is a breeze, it’s really effortless and anyone could pick up and play with the duo. The combat and platforming controls are an absolute joy to use. Shooting projectiles is slightly awkward and there are some occasional frame rate dips, but it doesn’t happen often enough or affect the overall enjoyment.

Yooka-Laylee is the best 3D platformer since the N64, with Super Mario Galaxy being an exception. It shines with nostalgia throughout and is essentially Banjo Kazooie 4, but of course with some very noticeable changes. It’s the platfromer I imagine the ex-rare staff wanted to create whilst working for Rare under Microsoft but didn’t get the freedom to create. PlayTonic clearly have shown their knowledge and passion for the 3D platfromer genre and have done excellent work showcasing what they know and love with Yooka-Laylee.  The game offers some of the best platforming elements, worlds and collectibles. The only let down is the dialogue and writing could have been slightly better, but the story is self explanatory and that’s all you really need for a platformer.  Fantastic mechanics delivered in beautiful worlds with enough challenge to get the mind thinking of where to go and what to do next.  I highly recommend this game if you are looking for an excellent platforming title, with some mini games thrown into the mix.

Yooka-Laylee will be releasing on the PS4, Xbox One and Steam on April 11th 2017. A Nintendo Switch release date is yet to be announced.



Author

Marshall
Marshall

Video game fanatic since a young age. FIFA expert and all-round sports junky. I dive into various titles and love experiencing new and creative games.