Yooka-Laylee is a game that feels like it needs no introduction, having been front and centre of a certain generation of gamers’ minds for over two years since its Kickstarter announcement back in May 2015. For the un-informed though, a quick history lesson is needed.
Around 20 years ago, Nintendo released a console called the Nintendo 64, the name coming from 64-bit CPUs that the system ran on. At this time, Rare, a British game developer, had already established a rich pedigree with Nintendo and looked to create a game inspired by Nintendo’s own Super Mario 64. To cut a long development story short, the team at Rare created a 3D platformer known as Banjo-Kazooie. The game lives on even now in the memories of gamers who played it in the late ‘90s, even in an age where 3D platformers were flooding the market, and is as fondly remembered as Crash Bandicoot or Spyro by those who played it.
Fast forward to 2012 and a team of former Rare employees expressed interest in creating a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie, more in the style of the first two games rather than the mixed-bag that was Nuts and Bolts (disclaimer: I really liked it). The end result of their work is Yooka-Laylee and it is due out on 11th April 2017.
Just like Banjo-Kazooie, Yooka-Laylee are a duo that work together; Yooka is a chameleon and Laylee is a bat that hitches a constant ride on the top of Yooka’s head. Think of them as Yooka having the brains and Laylee having the brawns, or backchat. And plenty of it at that.
But the similarities are far from over there. Yooka-Laylee has the duo searching throughout an over-arching hub world that splits off into smaller themed worlds. These smaller worlds are accessible not by collecting puzzle pieces (as in Banjo-Kazooie), but by collecting missing Pagies. These Pagies can be used to access the new worlds, or a new feature in which you can expand existing worlds and explore new areas. This takes the worlds from big, to massive.
These worlds are far from empty as well, with characters and collectibles a-plenty to keep you exploring. Collectibles may be receiving a bit of a bad reputation as of late but as any veteran platformer player will tell you, these are essential to the authenticity of re-creating the glory days. In Yooka-Laylee there are seven types of collectibles; some with as many as 1010 dotted throughout the game, whilst some have as low as just five.
Don’t let these numbers put you off though, as you can bring a friend along to enjoy the fun! The game contains a co-op element where the second player takes control of ‘The Bee Team’ assisting the main player by collecting items on the ground and replenishing health picking up the butterflies. If you like your multiplayer a bit more competitive though, then you need to speak to Rextro.
Rextro is a Retro T-Rex, hence the name. He comes complete with a polygonal shape and CRT lines across his body. Rextro looks after the retro arcade games that form the basis of the local multiplayer. These can be for up to four people on the same console and feature all the classic multiplayer modes such as races, capture the flag and many more variants, all with a Playtonics twist.
But Rextro isn’t the only character Yooka and Laylee will run into on their journey. There is a snake called Trowzer (bonus points if you can recognise who’s shorts Trowzer is wearing) and a minecart called Kartos, who is referred to as the God of ore if you like your puns more mythological. These two pop up throughout the adventure but there are a whole host of wacky, weird and wonderful characters to meet, whose personalities will bounce off Yooka and Laylee.
Grant Kirkhope is once again involved in the soundtrack for the game. His previous credits include the Rare classics Banjo-Kazooie and Viva Piñata. He has composed the soundtrack for Yooka-Laylee with frequent collaborators David Wise (Donkey Kong Country Series) and Steve Burke (Kameo: Elements of Power and Jetpac Refuelled). If you are familiar with any these games and their respective soundtracks then you are expecting the world of Yooka-Laylee to be accompanied with something special.
Yooka-Laylee is launching world-wide on Tuesday 11th April and for a studio’s first release, albeit one which indie marvels Team17 have helped publish, has a huge amount of expectation. The personnel involved and the games source material are getting fans salivating with hype and expectation. The game offers much for old-school fans of platformers, but it has to win over the hearts of the new fans. Will it be the shot in the arm the genre needs and bring it kicking and screaming into 2017, or will it act as the final nail in the coffin for what was once such a treasured genre.
Fans and newcomers do not have long too wait and we will have our full review and thoughts up on site shortly. Check back soon for more info!