Way back in 2012 there was talk of the developers of the original Banjo Kazoiee coming out with a new plat-former. I remember having mixed feelings of excitement and sadness as I knew it wasn’t a new Banjo game, however it was developed by the same people. Fast forward to May 1st 2015 and their new game shows up on Kickstarter and within 38 minutes it met it crowdfunding goal of 175k and in only 21 hrs it hit the 1 million mark. At the time this was the fastest any game had hit the 1 million mark. I suppose you could say people where excited to get their hands on it. The game was called Yooka Laylee.
Last year Team 17 sent me an email inviting me to interview them and try out their catalog of games including Yooka Laylee. So of course I jumped at the chance. There was only one level at the time and it wasn’t 100% complete, but still I remember thinking I had just played something special. Less then a year later they send me another email, asking me one simple question. What platform would you like your Yooka laylee review key on? After pinching myself I responded. You see I had played the Toy box mode to death, but it is nothing like the final product. So after finishing it to completion, was it worth all the hype and excitement? For this reviewer yes..yes it was.
In every way this is a Banjo Successor. The grunts and non comprehensible “voice” acting is exactly like Banjo. The humor and even many of the move sets are taken directly from Banjo. This is a modern, prettier version of Banjo with different characters.
One of the things that really stands out in YL is the clean, gorgeous graphics. The water effects, fire, snow all the environmental effects looked great. You could tell they put a lot of love and passion in the details. When Yooka sucked up plant pelets his fingers, toes, ears and tail all lit up with whatever color the pelet was. So if it was a fire pelet he would light up orange, water he would lite up blue and so on. It was a simple but really cool effect. There were a ton of really cool details like this through out the game. The draw distance was also great as if you could see it in the distance you could get to it, and these where not small worlds. The character animations where also very good, the whole graphical package was fabulous.
The audio in YL was also outstanding. A really good gauge of the quality of a soundtrack is if you remember it after you finished playing. I was walking around the house whistling the Yooka Laylee sound track hours after I finished the game. The voice work is really an acquired taste, if you loved the Banjo Kazoiee voice work, well you will love this voice work. Personally I really like it, seems fitting for such a goofy and fun title. The environmental sound effects sound great as well. Just an overall sweet audio experience.
As great as the rest of the game is, if they failed on this part the other stuff wouldn’t matter. Ever play a beautiful looking crappy playing game? Yeah me too. Thankfully this is not the case here. The platforming feels spot on. Those who are into platformer’s as much as I am, know what I mean when I say there is a certain feel to a good platformer. If I died it was my fault, not due to the camera looking at the top of my head(I am looking at you Sonic adventure). There was so much to do in this game and save for a few arcade games(more on those in a minute) everything felt great. I have heard a few people complain about the camera, but I had absolutely no issues with the camera.
Another element of the game besides the platforming was the collecting. There are several items in the game to collect, the quils which are used as money to buy new moves where all over the level and generally pretty easy to get at. There more challenging items where the pagies, these where pages(surprise) that where scattered around the world. There were not as many and you generally had to solve puzzles of varying difficulties to get to them. You used Pagies to open up all five worlds, so kind of important. You also used them to expand these worlds which opened up new and often exciting challenges. Each World had a really fun Boss battle. I wont talk about them here in this review so not to spoil anything.
So part of Yooka Laylee that I really didn’t care for, was the Arcade. Most of the arcade games where kind of fun and not required. However there was this one game that you had to beat to get a pagie to progress. It looked like RC pro am and controlled horribly. It felt very out of place in an otherwise outstanding game. I still have nightmares of that terrible game.
Not much to talk about here. Its fun and silly. As mentioned early, loved the sense of humor. I found myself laughing out loud on more then one occasion. A lot of really fun characters to met. The two main bad dudes are a Riot. Capitol B(hes a bee you see) and Dr.Quack are working together to steal the worlds literature and our heroes are of course trying to stop them by collecting the aforementioned pagies.
This game is very family friendly at least for the most part. There is some adult humor like a snake named Trowzer(get it trowzer snake), but most of it will go over the little kiddos heads. Other then that this a very clean kid friendly platformer that all ages should enjoy.
Overall – 9.5/10
In case it is not obvious, I absolutely love this game. It did not disappoint at all. This may be one of those games that you either get or don’t. We need to support this style of game, its time for the platformer to make a comeback. Yooka Laylee just may lead the charge. Well done Playtonic and Team 17. Now start working on a sequel.
Videos of Yooka Laylee