Yooka-Laylee - The Rebirth of Platformers


One of the games I'm most excited for this year, Yooka-Laylee, is launching super soon and I have to say this is the first title that I'm genuinely curious to hear the thoughts from reviewers and even the dreaded YouTube comments. I don't think this has ever happened before. Usually with games I'm excited for I DREAD the reviews for it. As of late anything creative, new, or games that aim to please the fans as the main focus get thrown into a corner and given a below average or even bad score.
This could be for numerous reasons but that's for another day.

Yooka-Laylee is a blast from the past, but with the power of the new platforms. But honestly that doesn't bother me all that much. In fact, I'd love to be able to play the game on my eventual Nintendo Switch or even my PSVita! But even though that probably wont happen, I'm SERIOUSLY excited about this game. I think most fans of the title will have their own different list of games that the title reminds them of, but for me I'm reminded of Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, Spyro The Dragon, Crash Bandicoot, Croc and others. The main reason I'm so hyped about this game is that it takes the best of the past and adds chunks of the future to it. Obviously there are HUGE links to Banjo-Kazooie since some of the ex-Rare team are working on the game, so in fact it would pretty much be fair to say that Banjo-Kazooie is the biggest influence on the game. But I don't personally have much experience with that title to be able to make the connections.

It's been WAY too long since we had a solid platformer pop up. Being a fan of all of those platformers, every E3 or Gamescom we hang onto the hope that eventually we'll get another one of those. Even a reboot to some of the series', but usually we end up being let down. It's pretty much the perfect time to release a game like this.

I managed to get my hands on it during the last Eurogamer event... sorry... EGX, where we were able to play a solid demo that lasted me probably at least about 30 minutes. Usually at these events I would capture as much racing game stuff as possible for my channel, but this year I went in with another plan having been to both E3 and Gamescom in the year. To play games I wouldn't normally try at events & games I'm excited for but didn't have time to play. 

Let me be clear, I was excited for the game as soon as I saw the Kickstarter and was SUPER excited to hear it absolutely SMASHED it. It's one of the only times I've ever seen a Kickstarter and actually regretted not helping fund it later on when it's funded. Anyway, let's talk about the game.

From what I played, the game was very open. I would start one activity and get distracted by another. This is actually the first time this has happened on such a significant scale. Normally when games advertise they have "distraction gameplay" they usually mean some extra things pops up that are usually not of much interest. Closest example I can give is the barn finds on Forza. Totally different game but you get the idea, they never really intrigued me to find them so I only did them months after beating the game.

But with Yooka, I would start something, fail, try again, fail, give up and try something else. Obviously this was the first time I'd ever played the game so I was getting used to the controls, physics and how the game generally worked. So "giving up" and switching to something easier just meant I had more time to figure out how to tackle the challenge later. Which I eventually did, I went back to some of the more difficult seeming quests/missions and destroyed them the 2nd time round. Of course I carried on where I left off since it was a big open map, something a lot of older platformers couldn't pull off as well due to the hardware they ran on.

I instantly fell in love with Yooka and Laylee, they're an awesome match. I would argue that most of the best platformers usually have two characters that use their specialties and uniqueness to help solve puzzles together. Ratchet & Clank, Jak & Daxter are the first ones that come to mind for me personally, but you'll be able to make your own links.

All of the other characters were very quirky and even the enemies came across fun and silly, which fits the tone of the game for sure. Even just looking at the artwork, the tone of everything fits with those images perfectly. You could argue it comes off a little "childish" almost, but I don't personally see that. I think this is why we've moved onto the Call of Duty's and Battlefields, because the images of those games come across as more "mature" and "grown up" than those of old platforming games. But very clearly by looking at the amount of funding and hype around Yooka-Laylee, the image of looking more "grown up" doesn't hold so much value anymore. People that grew up playing platformers are more than excited to see a game going back to the roots of where they started gaming.

I think the success of the Kickstarter and the very likely looking success of the game is good news all round. It won't mean less "manly" or "adult" games by any chance, but it for sure shows that not all of us want to go around shooting soldiers and killing hookers in every title.