First Impression: Yooka-Laylee

Despite being late to actually go out and grab the game and then leaving it sitting around for a week after that, I finally got around to loading up Yooka-Laylee by Platonic/Team17. For anyone not aware, Yooka-Laylee is the spiritual successor to the Banjo-Kazooie series from the N64 era. A number of key developers of Banjo-Kazooie (ex-RARE) came up with the idea and boy have they done a great job!

The game was crowdfunded on Kickstarter as seems to be the trend these days on teams wanting to re-hash old works to make a new game and I was somewhat (and admittedly unjustly) sceptical given the fact that Mighty No. 9 (Mega Man’s spiritual successor) was such a flop. However, all of these titles (also see Bloodstains as successor to the Castlevania series, and Shenmue III which is just the next title in an old franchise owned by the developer) are being created by different teams so I shouldn’t paint them all with the same brush, even if my brain wants to.

Jumping straight into Yooka-Laylee you can see the B-K influence as clear as day. The brilliant and vibrant colours, the puns, the objects and objectives, even the world / level design just reeks of the ‘same but different’ feeling that bathes you in the warm waves of nostalgia again and again. I personally get a very distinct ‘taste’ of Conker’s Bad Fur Day in the mix as well, as the game appears to be littered with puns and some not overly subtle adult jokes. Trowser the Snake?…. BRILLIANT! I also quite love the puns, such as the hub world being named the Hivory Towers (it’s a bee hive…).

The game itself could honestly have just been an N64 title that was re-made to suit modern screen resolutions… sort of like they did with.. oh wait, BANJO KAZOOIE! I am really enjoying the game, but I’m also a person that is currently replaying Super Mario 64 and consistently dedicate my gaming time to retro titles and remakes of retro titles, so the game type/style/play have obviously never worn thin on me. If I were to think of it from a ‘video game industry’ outlook I don’t think I would be as impressed as there’s very little original about the gameplay, quest objectives, character archetypes, etc.

All of that said, if you’re expecting every game to break new ground and try new things then you will always be sorely disappointed. Yooka-Layee does exactly was it was designed to do – throw back to the B-K days and franchise for a new adventure, and it did that just fine for my $45.