Fans of the 3D platformers of old, get ready. Hold onto your butts, because the much-loved makers of Banjo-Kazooie are back with Yooka-Laylee, and they’re running all your nostalgic feels to the highest level. Dubbed the ‘spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie’, this adorably retro game will have you flying head-first into your childhood, back to the days of Jack and Daxter and that tricky Rayman 2: The Great Escape. So why is this game causing such a stir amongst the gaming community?
3D platformer collectathons have been much-missed, with gamers across the globe kickstarter-ing this project up the wazoo. It reached its goal of £178,000 in thirty-eight minutes, and topped off a cool million in twenty-one hours. Capitalising on people’s nostalgia worked for Playtonic, with a soundtrack CD sent to backers devised by the original Banjo-Kazooie composing team, and exclusive updates sent via email. When the game came out, people flocked to their devices to play it, sick of being teased with tantalising game footage and snippets of sweet soundtrack.
Now we come to the game itself. The adorable little Chameleon Yooka, sporting the equally cute bat, Laylee on his head, bumbling about five different worlds filled with puzzles, hilarious characters and a plethora of new mechanics to learn and enjoy. Guided by a slightly questionable ‘Trowzer’ snake (yes, he’s a snake in trousers, take from that what you will) you attempt to piece together a magical book stolen by the Trump-esque ‘Capital Bee’, who has decided to nick all the books in the ‘Verse so he can monopolise the publishing market. Your moves are fantastically animated, and have such groovy names as ‘fart bubble’ and ‘tongue whip’, and these give you the tools to plug away at this platformer. Oh, and there’s an arcade game on every level, quiz minigames, and Mario Kart style racing. There’s a lot packed in, and a lot to love.
So why is this game so controversial? Well, some people have moved on, claiming that the game is out of its time and should stay where it belongs. Some people even complain that people are blinded by nostalgia, and that hipsters refuse to move past the good old days of 90s gaming. Online forums discuss the game’s difficulty, claiming that it’s too hard, especially for a new generation of wee gamers who could be fooled into thinking that this game was designed for them. This clashes with the child-like aesthetics of Yooka-Laylee, but matches up with all the in-jokes within the game, as well as the slightly-too-adult character of Laylee and her rude dialogue. Combined with lack of checkpoint system, difficult mini-games, and some janky camera work that can make your head spin, we can begin to understand why this game isn’t so peachy for everyone.
But hey-ho. It’s designed for a specific audience, so what? Most games are. And arguably, Yooka-Laylee is a lot more accessible than Dark Souls or Monster Hunter, which are undeniably tailored for their clientele, yet still ultra-popular. So, take a punt on this little gem, have some fun bouncing and gliding about. Get a little weepy at the graphics on the N64 ‘shader mode’. Either way, you’re bound to crack a smile.