Yooka-Laylee is the grand predecessor of the great 3D platformers of the 90's that we all know and love; specifically, Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie. However, this game wasn't entirely made by all of the same people who created those same classics. Playtonic Games, the developers of Yooka-Laylee, are a group of experienced game creators, that were once apart of the gaming company, Rareware. Many people forget that Playtonic Games, is an indie gaming studio. Its true, they are experienced, but these people left all of their resources, friends, and memories in order to develop the kind of game they wanted to make; and that takes serious determination.
In terms of game design, this game is absolutely fantastic. The shading of even a crate or tree gives the game a feeling of depth and more atmospheric. Many game developers struggle with making water effects look realistic but not Playtonic; they made it look fantastic. As far as the the main characters, their designs are perfect for fitting in our old favorite platformers. A green chameleon and a purple bat, (the unlikely duo) continues a trend that many classic platformers had. For example, Mario 64, an Italian plumber who saves a princess. Banjo-Kazooie, a bear and bird that save the bears sister, etc. Here however in Yooka-Laylee, you look to retrieve pages from a magical book and defeat the evil Capital B from stealing these pages and re-writing the universe.
Now that we've covered the design of Yooka and Laylee, I'd like to go into the enemies and other main characters. While I do think the unlikely duo is very fitting, I do feel that many of the side characters are not as memorable as many of the characters from Banjo-Kazooie and Tooie. First we have Trowser, who is a safari snake that gives you moves. While is actual design is very adorable and well made, his character development isn't quite as well made. Many of his quotes have the long ssss's and an accent, but he's not quite as charming as Bottles was from Banjo-Kazooie. In Banjo-Kazooie, Bottles and Kazooie had a little feuds where every time they would meet, one of them would make a funny comment regarding the other, such as "Bird Brain" or "Google Boy" or my favorite, "Beak Brain". This game those characters, well, character and while Laylee does make snarky comments at Trowser, Trowser just ignores Laylee and its odd. I personally just don't find the same attachment I have with many of the characters in Banjo-Kazooie than Yooka-Laylee. Off the top of my head, many characters I can remember are Motzand, Klungo, Jam Jars, Gruntilda, Brentilda, Clunker, Bogie, and Mr. Vile the crocodile. Unfortunately, I just didn't connect with as many characters in Yooka-Laylee than I did with Banjo-Kazooie and I can proudly say nostalgia doesn't block my vision, as the first time I played Banjo-Kazooie was in 2014. While there are many funny and memorable characters in Yooka-Laylee such as Nimbo, Dr. Puzz, Dr. Quack, and Capital B, I would definitely say Platonic games should work on their character development just alittle bit more.
In terms of the enemies, I felt that there could've been more of a variety. Many enemies in Yooka Laylee are just re-skinned and put in the following level. For example, the enemy named, "Keiths" are quite literally in all five levels of the game, with all of the same functions as the previous ones. Many of the enemies Playtonic created were really well done, but I definitely think a bit more variety could've been in order.
Not counting the characters development because I have already mentioned it, the game development of Yooka-Laylee is well done. The levels in Yooka-Laylee are absolutely gorgeous to say the least. Every time I enter the level, I always find a new detail whether it be big or small. Each level has beautiful shading and excellent collisions that are clearly drawn with careful editing. You can climb boulders and go behind buildings where it would look good for a collectible which goes right into our next subtopic; collectibles. The collectibles in Yooka Laylee are very unique and very cleverly thought-out. Pagies, feathers, ghost writers, and other collectibles are very rewarding once you collect all of them. For those who love collecting, this game is definitely for you because there is no shortage of areas to explore and collectibles that need to be collected!
On top of all this, theres many in game things that make each level more fun. You have Rextro's gaming arcade games which give the game a challenge and change of pace from the main story. Its very unique and a great addition to the game. Dr. Puzz's transformations are very clever like a helicopter that shoots canon balls, or a group of piranhas. The tonics are what impressed me the most. Tonics aren't needed, but it makes the gameplay more interesting as you can increase you're health or power bar. Many of these things weren't in Banjo Kazooie and I definitely wish they had been as they are nice additions in Yooka-Laylee.
The music in Yooka-Laylee is great. Many of the soundtracks conducted by the amazing Grant Kirkhope, are very fitting for their landscapes. In Glitterglaze Glacier's soundtrack is very light and has low strings which fit its winter theme well. Rextro's Arcade has an old style 8-bit theme which fits his character as well. My favorite soundtrack is Up'N'ova which is very upbeat and great sounding for its level as you know you have to work hard to beat Rextro's highscore and this is great music to listen to while playing this mini arcade game.
Honestly, I think this game is great. You have to remember: Playtonic Games is an Indie game studio. They didn't have all of the resources that major gaming companies have like Nintendo, or Microsoft. I think that many people are too hard on Yooka-Laylee and I think its great for what it is. Don't get me wrong, there are some things that I would've liked to see change, but there only nitpicks and opinions, not musts. Overall, I'm very excited to see what Playtonic decides to make next!
Super Chasm Games