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Playtonic Games Debuts the Yooka-Laylee Rap
June 22 2017, 10:16 | Alexander Lowe
Relic Entertainment Dawn of War 3
Already this year, we've seen Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, Nioh, Nier: Automata, and many more AAA open world experiences. We're talking about Banjo-Kazooie, a game that didn't see a proper sequel for almost 17 years, not counting its platformer-meets-Bob the Builder spin-off that was Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts for the Xbox 360.
The most important Yooka-Laylee collectibles are the Quills and Pagies.
It's these two that propel the story. For example, Capital B working in disguise at his own casino with the only objective being to reward Yooka and Laylee with the same Pagies he's trying to steal from them, and Dr. Quack's quizzes that simply let the duo continue on to the next area of the factory if they answer simple questions about the game. "With 145 Pagies spread across worlds and hub area, I was never at a loss of things to do - this is a long game". Unlocked as you visit each world and push further into Capital-B's mansion, Yooka-Laylee's moveset is a generous if well-travelled one, extending from bread-and-butter basics like the double-jump and gliding to advanced tricks such as the ability to turn invisible or walk underwater by farting out a bubble of air.
After spending about 20 or so hours with Yooka-Laylee, I'm happy to say I enjoyed a good bit of it. Coupled with all of the characters making the same weird kinds of noises that I've been imitating since the original Banjo, and Yooka-Laylee is a joy to the ears. You can track each collectible you obtain, and more importantly, what you still have left to find, in each level via a menu screen. Yooka and Laylee can never muster up the enthusiasm as you would've had for Banjo and Kazooie. We all know that old 3D platformers had heaps of them - it was part of the charm, right alongside animals wearing clothes. Since this game calls itself a collect-a-thon, every world is chock-full of secrets to discover. The Pagies, of course, are necessary to unlock more worlds.
As a collectathon-type experience, exploration is the name of the game and you're going to be doing a lot of it. If you're not, then you don't really have too much to worry about.
The story is as simple as it comes, and yet you'll still spend too much time sitting through confusing, unfunny cutscenes.
My main complaint with the Pagies however, is that while it's obvious that your reward for traversing an icy trail is going to be one, it can feel like it's more trouble than it was worth. There are also hardly any checkpoints - if you die in an especially challenging section of the level, you're likely to reset from the doorway in which you entered the area, and you'll need to redo everything all over again. Playtonic Games has pooled its resources and efforts together to deliver a great experience that made me not want to quit playing until I finished. The first is a gorgeous, breezy slab of pop Aztec architecture that reaches up from jungle gullies to drifting island-chains, a statement of intent that is always a pleasure to return to (not least for the discovery of what feels like a deft Dark Souls reference near the spawn).
Using their arsenal of special moves, our heroes will tackle a huge variety of puzzles and platforming challenges in their search for Pagies, the golden bounty used to unlock - and expand - stunning new worlds, each jammed to the gills with oddball characters, hulking bosses, minecart challenges, arcade games, quiz shows, multiplayer games... and much more!
The thing about nostalgia is that it often glosses over the really annoying bits and leaves us remembering the wonderful. He felt it recreated 3D platformers of the 90s a little too well. I'll give you two guesses as to where you should hit this guy.
Contributing to this is the fact that the camera is pretty unruly to control. Trying to look around and move the viewport snaps it away quickly to give you the "best" angle. In every case, the game just lets you do your own thing. Sure, revitalised versions, such as the Ratchet and Clank reboot from past year, come in sprits and sprats, but for the most part, they've gone the way of the Eddie Murphy and his career. There's even giant mini-golf puzzles in a couple of levels. "But cross this lizard, and you'll get wrecked". Right from the outset, it's getting players used to accruing items. No, no, what you should be thinking of instead is co-op! Yooka-Laylee has co-op for its main campaign, which is a great addition.
Overall, Yooka-Laylee was exactly what I had hoped it would be. But Yooka-Laylee isn't just that one that "takes us back"; it fondly remembers the good-old days with a modern flare. Yooka-Laylee is a lighthearted romp through a bygone era of games that feels fresh out of sheer irony if nothing else.