Games like Mario 64 set the standard for what people could expect from open world gameplay in fully immersive 3D gameplay… well, for the time anyway. It immediately became an influential title and inspired a whole slew of games. Heading this charge was Rare Studios, a company closely connected with Nintendo, and gained mass popularity by capitalizing on the starving N64 player base by releasing high quality titles that amped Nintendo’s own efforts. Despite their efforts being fairly similar, Rare’s cheeky attitude and sardonic writing helped to counterbalance Nintendo’s wild earnestness.
People were thrilled when they heard the remnants of Rare were gathering for another go at the 3D platformer genre. Gone were the days where open-world gaming was defined by how the player moved throughout its worlds rather than just having the freedom to go where you want. It was high time for open-world games to return to their roots, and Yooka-Laylee managed to do just that! So if you’re looking for more, check out some of the following games to wet your whistle!
Similar Games to Yooka-Laylee
- System: Nintendo 64, Xbox 360, Xbox One
- Publisher: Nintendo, Microsoft Game Studios
- Developer: Rare
- Release Date: June 29th, 1998
Banjo’s just a simple bear who wants to live in peace with his sister, Tootie. Kazooie’s a wise-cracking Breegull that lives in Banjo’s backpack. The two live at the base of Spiral Mountain. At the top lives an evil witch named Gruntilda who’s so vain that she believes that she’s the most beautiful woman in the land, unaware of young Tootie who lives right under her nose. Out of spite, she captures Tootie and then does what any sane person would do: build a machine that can suck the beauty out of someone and transfer it into someone else! Banjo sets off to save Tootie from Gruntilda, and Kazooie is forced to go along because, well, Banjo does need his backpack after all!
If you’ve played Yooka-Laylee, there’s no way you’ve at least heard of Banjo-Kazooie. It’s the game that inspired Yooka-Laylee’s development in the first place, right down to musically themed title characters that work in tandem! In fact, much of Yooka-Laylee’s own world is heavily inspired by in-jokes among fans of Banjo-Kazooie, like how in Yooka-Laylee there are sentient googly-eyes that can possess objects in the game that are in reference to how everything in Banjo-Kazooie has those same kind of eyes. Or how in Glitterglaze Glacier you have to collect Ice Keys to unlock doors, referencing the Ice Key in Banjo-Kazooie that you’re never able to access, yet is placed in clear sight.
2. Shovel Knight
- System: PC, 3DS, Wii U, Playstation 4, Playstation Vita, Xbox One, Amazon Fire TV, Nintendo Switch
- Publisher: Yacht Club Games
- Developer: Yacht Club Games
- Release Date: June 26th, 2014
Long ago, Shovel Knight and Shield Knight traveled the land in search of grand adventure. Their efforts were cut short by the rise of the Enchantress, a dark witch with incredible magic. She kills Shield Knight and leaves Shovel Knight alone in his grief. In Shovel Knight’s absence, the Enchantress has assembled a group of knights called The Order of No Quarter and has completely ravaged the nation. Shovel Knight decides to come out of retirement and drive back the forces of the Enchantress to bring peace back to the kingdom once and for all.
Shovel Knight is to 2D action platformers what Yooka-Laylee was to 3D, a loving tribute to a long dead genre that also attempts to modernize the formula. While Shovel Knight maintains the tricky, nail-biting tension that games like Mega Man were known for, it manages to achieve this by forgoing a traditional lives system in favor of a unique system where the player loses treasure upon their death. If the player can make it back to where they died, however, they can still reclaim their losses. But, if they die before they make it back, they’ll lose their opportunity to reclaim their original losses and will lose another fraction of their cash.
Shovel Knight Trailer:
3. Snake Pass
- System: PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One
- Publisher: Sumo Digital
- Developer: Sumo Digital
- Release Date: March 28th, 2017
Snake Pass is one of those games that’s played more for its concept than any sort of story. You’ll control Noodle (the charming snake that you see in the advertising) by replicating the motions that a snake would use to actually move. You’ll use the control stick to slither along the ground, use a separate button to lift your head, and then use one of the trigger buttons on the controller to have Noodle grip onto something. It’s a game that genuinely attempts to capture the feeling of being a snake.
What it also attempts to do, however, is replicate the old days of 3D platformers, similar to what Yooka-Laylee does. But while Yooka-Layee is more of an update of the formula, Snake Pass merely adapts to it because it’s recalling the sensation of movement that we once loved in these games. To help bring back that feeling, Sumo Digital managed to even recruit David Wise, one of Rare’s most notable and talented composers, to score the soundtrack!
Snake Pass – Playstation Experience Trailer:
Any Games Like Yooka-Laylee?
4. Grow Home
- System: PC, Playstation 4
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Developer: Ubisoft Reflections
- Release Date: February 4th, 2015
B.U.D. is an excitable little robot whose planet is dying! He’s been sent to an alien world to gather up seeds to help regrow the foliage of his home. However, on this planet, there’s one gigantic beanstalk that actually grows all the way up into the sky; and wouldn’t you know it, but the seeds he needs are strewn all over it! B.U.D will need to carefully climb up the beanstalk and make sure it doesn’t fall all the way back down! IT might even make some interesting discoveries along the way!
Most people didn’t play 3D Platformers for the actual meat of the game. Most of the time, those games used a giant world to connect point A to point B; but generally, what you found at each point was a mini-game or minor task to complete in order to collect a magical bauble. A lot of people have forgotten that’s the way 3D Platformers were actually designed and mainly remember the experience itself of traveling throughout the worlds. Grow Home feels like the sort of game that remembers this sense of grandeur that enticed gamers into the genre in the first place, with an enormous beanstalk to scale and discoveries to be made within each and every fold.
Grow Home Launch Trailer – Available on PC and PS4
5. Super Mario 3D World
- System: Wii U
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release Date: November 22nd, 2013 (US)
Hey, whadya know? Princess Peach didn’t get captured today! Instead, Bowser has set his sights on the Sprixies, creatures which appear to be halfway between a Sprite and a Pixie. He’s harnessing their power to… give himself magic powers or something. Look, we all know you’re not playing Mario for the plot. Just know that you’ve got a 3D Mario game that follows the structure of 2D Mario, with 8 worlds to traverse, Bowser’s baddies to clobber, items to collect. And, for the first time in a 3D Mario game, you can even play co-op with your friends! Each character has their own special traits, with Mario as the all-arounder, Luigi with his wacky high jump, Peach and her famous floating dress, and Toad’s quick as a jackal but can’t jump to save his life (literally).
Mario 3D World is perhaps one of the most complete 3D Platformers. It manages to combine the simplicity found in a 2D Mario game but also captures the creativity and sense of imagination you’d find in a 3D Mario. Every single level introduces a new gameplay concept, like platforms that shift every time you jump, cherries that add an extra character for you to control, or swings to launch yourself from like an acrobat. Better yet, upon beating the game, you’ll unlock almost an entire second game’s worth of content with completely remixed levels of past stages… or maybe even new concepts!
Wii U – Super Mario 3D World Gameplay Trailer:
6. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
- System: Playstation 4
- Publisher: Activision
- Developer: Vicarious Visions
- Release Date: June 30th, 2017
Crash is back in this greatest hits compilation of the classic Playstation 1 titles! Choose between the original Crash Bandicoot, its sequel, Crash Bandicoot: Cortex Strikes Back, and Crash Bandicoot: Warped, the final game in the trilogy. While, technically, each game has its own plot, each game effectively comes down to its titular character taking on the mad scientist Dr. Cortex and foiling his plans to conquer the planet with his own brand of mad science.
This was a perfect time for Activision to remake the original Crash Bandicoot games. Just as we’re being reminded about why we loved 3D Platformers thanks to Yooka-Laylee, Crash is a reminder of the genre’s earliest roots. Crash came at a time before Mario 64 had properly cemented itself as THE premiere platformer of the mid-90s. It attempted to adapt the sensibilities of the 2D platformer into 3D by giving players a straight path to follow rather than opening up its game world. This gave it the feeling of an obstacle course, which set the base for what 3D platformers would eventually become.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy – PS4 Gameplay Launch Trailer:
Now is the time to be excited about 3D platformers. Thanks to Yooka-Laylee’s success, we’re seeing a real return to form for the genre, and everyone is looking to make their mark in history. We’ve even got Nintendo going back to the roots of Mario 64 with Super Mario Odyssey! If you know of any other great 3D platformers, please, share them with us in the comments below!