The announcement of the Yooka-Laylee crowdfunding campaign brought with it a look to the past with both fondness and intrigue. With Playtonic games’ intentions to bring a spiritual successor to the classic Banjo-Kazooie series that was beloved by many, the hype behind this brand new duo unsurprisingly built to this moment for fans looking for a nostalgic fix, and that’s exactly what they will be getting with Yooka-Laylee.
In fact, anyone familiar with the bear/bird team of the N64 days will notice similarities in Yooka-Laylee at every turn. Whilst for some such as myself, this was such a pleasing entity to behold, to have a modern day game of this nature to put my time into. But understandably for others, it might be a bit too familiar if you’re expecting something completely new with a just a nod to the past 3D platformers.
When starting the game, you will spend the majority of your time spotting similar traits should you have experienced Banjo-Kazooie before. This ranges across the entire spectrum of the game too, not just the obvious use of colorful creatures named after musical instruments. You’ll be unlocking moves, finding collectables in order to progress into new worlds, and even noticing the sarcastic and hilarious humor from the old days amongst its entertaining cast. From little things such as sound effects, to the way you approach the entire game, there is consistently noticeable resemblances throughout. The difference here is that Yooka-Laylee swaps out the whole musical note collecting business in order to stop the evil Capital B stealing the world’s books. Once the golden pages from Laylee’s book are pinched, its up to the wise-cracking bat and her more civil lizard pal Yooka to retrieve them.
It would be unfair to suggest that this was a carbon copy of Banjo, as it evolves far beyond it in a number of ways. For example, a new perks system that has been introduced presents players with a number of customization options that affect how they approach the game. The mechanics in general don’t feel as rough around the edges either, which is something I felt hindered its predecessors.
Essentially, you’ll be exploring Hivory Towers, unlocking new worlds, and searching every nook and cranny for a number of different types of collectables. Along the way, you’ll encounter a number of imaginative enemies and characters to interact with (the snake aptly named Trowzer is a particular highlight) throughout your journey. One comparison that is most welcome is the game’s audio. The score is fantastic to listen to, which could almost be expected but definitely not taken for granted.
Overall, many will consider Yooka-Laylee to be the most dynamic duo since Batman and Robin, if they are either looking for a nostalgic experience or they can embrace this type of game for the first time. Despite the many comparisons, Yooka-laylee breathes new life into a genre beloved by many. It might not attract everyone who may not appreciate the games of old kind of atmosphere that is on offer, but for many of us its hands down the best platformer we’ve seen in years. It depends entirely on which side of the fence you sit on, but if you enjoyed Banjo-Kazooie, then needless to say you’re going to fall in love with Yooka-Laylee.