"Alright, geezersss… come to learn from the bessst?" ― Trowzer
Yes, yes we have. The best being, of course, 90s platformers that made Littly Devy go, "Alright!" whilst collecting every last piece of digital bling in order to complete the game 100%. Welcome my friends, to the world of 3D collectathons! Please, have a seat, pull up a spot o' tea, loosen your trousers and come along on another anthropomorphic adventure from the comedic minds of Rar-er... I mean Playtonic.
After decades of what seemed to be a forgotten genre, Playtonic has answered the long ringing call from their die hard fans. It's been ? years since the "Real Rare" have published a title under their masters at Microsoft and fans wondered if they would ever see their favorite platformer duo and foul mouthed squirrel again. Well... Playtonic has answered the call -- kind of. Who is Playtonic? Simple, take the best talent at Rare (those who made Conkers and Banjo), rewrap them as a new studio, start a new IP with a dose of classic formula and there you have it -- Rare #2. Due to legality of course, the team was unable to use any classic IPs and their lovable characters (Banjo and Kazooie), so they made new ones, Yooka and Laylee, a lizard and a bat.
So without further ado... let's jolly up some PROSSS and CONSSS...
1. NOSTALGIA GLASSES
The first moment you fire up this bad boy you notice something; it looks, sounds and plays like BK. That in and of itself, creates a double edged sword. The formula is virtually unchanged so fans of BK will enjoy a classic throwback but soon miss the bear and bird combo while thinking how this is their (BKs) game and they should be the playable protagonists.
2. CHARACTER MODELS
When it comes to characters, these guys no how to make 'em great. Cleverness and thought has been extruded onto most characters... uh oh, not all of 'em you say? Nope. With this game it is hit and miss as you get awesome concepts that feel like the old Rare, but on the other hand newer ones that just don't fit the world, make sense or are just plain lackluster. Below are examples...
Let's start with the best of the best, the moves salesman, Trowzer. A snake wearing trousers... a trouser snake? Pure genius. Rextro is a classic polygonal character who doesn't understand modern gaming as he stands next to playable arcade cabinets. Capital B is the antagonist who is... well a business bee -- genuis! It's very rare when a sidekick is superior to the main hero but that is exactly was is happening here. Laylee is fucking adorable! I mean, just look at her tiny bat wings and big red nose -- I bet it squeaks if squeeze it. Laylee is exaclty the same as Kazooie in attitude an abuses.
3. EXPLORABLE WORLDS
Or tomes as they like to call it this time around are unlock-able via the main collectibles called Jigg... er, sorry Pagies. When it comes to colorful imaginative worlds these guys are the best of the best -- at least they used to be. At the end of the day YL just doesn't have enough finesse, charisma or cleverness of its predecessor. That being said YL not all that bad; the first world is one of it's best, the second... meh, third is the best, fourth is terrible and fifth is average.
What's that? The other three you say? Why, that's it... five! The magical number for absolutely every single platformer that doesn't exist. What ever happened to eight? That's a great round number that was a staple back in the day -- not five. Five sucks! That's not nearly enough game to play... I don't get it. Instead of eight worlds like every classic platformer before it's time, YL has you exit each tome, expand it via pagies and re-enter to a bigger version with a few more things to do. No, we want eight!
4. CHEEKY HUMOR
It's baaaaack in all it's British glory! From funny puns, limericks and hidden adult jokes that will pass over any child's head, YL's dialogue is just as great as BK. You have you're new Kazooie named Laylee who is a firecracker of a witty twit and of course your peacemaker Yooka who is very reminiscent of Banjo who keeps his winged partner in check when conversing with other NPC's.
5. CATCHY TUNES
Remember when I said this game feels just like BK? A huge part of that is due to the original composer, Grant Kirkhope, back at it again with all the classic jingles and jangles of the Kazooie franchise.
6. CAMERA AND CONTROLS
Okay so here's where the game gets tricky -- and not because of the puzzles or bosses, in fact you could say your main boss in the game isss... the camera. Seriously though there are times where the camera doesn't bother me at all which is great since a decent camera is the crutch from whence all platformer controls are built. That being said, where YL's camera and controls fail are the invisible ceilings. GOOD GOD those are awful. Towards the end of the game you get a move where you can convert stamina into wing flaps similar to the red feathers in BK. Only issue is once you hit the top of the invisible collision in YL, it shoots your character down a ways, to which your characters rebuttals by continued upwards flight... You get see that it gets a bit jarring when you keep getting forced down, up, then down again.
Despite all its flaws, Yooka-Laylee is one nostalgia trip down memory lane. Anyone who was and still is a fan of the Banjo Kazooie franchise will forgive its many shortcomings for a fun blast from the past that only the ex-masters of Rareware could deliver.
Yooka-Laylee deserves a...