Yooka-Laylee is one title that any fan of 3D platformers will not want to ignore because it incorporates just about everything you’d expect with a handful of surprises thrown in for good measure. Playtonic Games consists of former veteran Rare employees, most of which worked on iconic titles such as the Banjo Kazooie and Donkey Kong franchise, so it should come as no surprise that Yooka-Laylee is the spiritual successor to one of the classic N64 greats. If you’re looking for a game that’s expansive and full of thrills, along with hours upon hours of glorious gameplay, then Yooka-Laylee should be an immediate purchase right off the bat (no puns). The music is composed by the prolific David Wise, who also worked on the Donkey Kong franchise, so be sure to experience audible euphoria.
What to Expect
There’s certainly a lot to expect from Yooka-Laylee, especially those who’ve been following the game since its inception. Fans who grew up in the N64 era know that Rare was one of the most revered developers, and whenever they released a title you’d already know they’d deliver on their promise. Now that those very same employees have created Playtonic Games, it’s quite clear that you’re in for a wonderful treat. Yooka and Laylee have this very antagonistic relationship where at times, you wonder just how they actually got along with each other in the first place. For that reason, you’re always rewarded with dry humor and impeccable delivery when it comes to puns and various other jokes that are thrown into the fray. Yooka-Laylee is no pushover either, as the game is a massive open world that’s full of mysteries and for most of the time you’ll play it, it’ll be you just running around trying to soak all of the details in.
The epic story kicks off with Yooka and Laylee residing in Shipwreck Creek until they discover a magical book that, to their surprise, is stolen and shredded. The one behind this whole mess is the dastardly tycoon Capital B, a business baron with a devious scheme to use Dr. Quack's invention, the Noveliser 64, to absorb all of the world's books and have a monopoly over the book industry. However, some one hundred "Pagies" seem to have escaped. So the conflicting duo set out to collect the Pagies scattered throughout each world, which when united will reassemble their book.
A Cornucopia of Things to Do
The minute you boot up Yooka-Laylee you’re greeted with Playtonic Games’ logo which oddly enough, closely resembles that of the old Rare logo which we thought was very funny. Of course, cosmetic changes were made to avoid the misery that is copyright, but you can clearly tell that the folks at Playtonic Games wanted their devoted fans to know that the heart of company still beats.
The music at the title screen really ignited our nostalgic senses because immediately, Banjo Kazooie popped up into our heads and we started whistling along in excitement. Once you’re in the game you’re introduced to the main villain of the series Capital B. along with his devious sidekick Dr. Quack, who you’ll see a lot of in the game.
The character designs are absolutely brilliant because they’re very simple in concept, but their personality really brings everything to life. At first, I wasn’t really too fond of Dr. Quack because the impression he gave off was this really naive and moronic persona, but he eventually grows on you the more you encounter him throughout the game. Capital B. doesn’t try to be funny and evil but that’s what actually makes him such a great villain because his snide remarks are often pointing at himself and his unwillingness to actually make your life a living hell.
These little small remarks that are thrown in throughout the game by Capital B. are a little treat for anyone who pays close attention to it because it truly makes playing through Yooka-Laylee more enthralling and brings out the child in you.
Every character you encounter throughout Yooka-Laylee is colorful in their own way, with some surprise guests that you’d never expect to see in the game. We talk a lot about the characters because to be quite honest, they’re really a huge reason why Yooka-Laylee is such a blast to play because every interaction is fresh and invigorating with various puns and gaming references to tickle your brain. One example is Kartos, who you’ll encounter in Tribalstack Tropics, the very first stage of the game. His old man persona really amused us because for some reason it brought back those days of cart missions in Donkey Kong: Diddy’s Kong Quest. That’s another stroke of genius from the Playtonic team, it’s that they’re not afraid to step over the line and stir up trouble when it comes to taking shots at the game industry, but also showing love to various other iconic characters we’re aware of. They also poke a little fun at themselves from time to time which only goes to portray a company who’s fearless in their approach and really want players to have fun.
If you’ve ever dabbled with Banjo Kazooie or any 3D platformer you’ll know that exploration, puzzle solving and collecting play a major role in the entirety of the game. Yooka-Laylee takes all of that and multiplies it, providing you with well over 40 hours of gameplay. Mind you the gameplay is going to consist of just you wandering around trying to soak everything in because each world you explore is incredibly mammoth sized when you compare it to other games in its genre.
There’s always something to look out for whether it be trying to collect every Ghost Writer, or trying to find every Rare reference possible in every nook and cranny. We were fortunate to find quite a handful of things that will surely make any fan gleam with excitement, but we’ll let you find all of those secrets on your own. As we stated earlier, the music truly helps to reel you into the environments and one thing we loved the most was just how everything felt seamless. One great example is whenever you’re on land the music is generally very upbeat and chirpy, but the minute you dive into the water you’re blessed with this majestic sound that just relaxes your soul with its soothing approach. It all blends together wonderfully and we couldn’t help but make a note of that.
Each world you wander around in comes with its perks, and that’s where the slick snake Trowsers comes into play. This snake salesman is like your third eye if you will because no matter where you go he’s always looking out for you, providing you with character buffs to aid you on your expedition. There’s also the adorable vending machine called Vendi who provides you with tonics to help assist you in specific scenarios such as, being able to hear when rare items are nearby, or simply just adding an extra butterfly to your health meter. These all come in handy at some point and that’s where the added element of strategy comes into the picture.
Yooka-Laylee is full of twists and turns and often times you’ll get lost in all of it because you’re just never too sure where to turn. To be honest, there were plenty of times where we simply forgot where to go to collect one of our Pagie’s because there are a plethora of things to do that you want to try everything out. It all felt like a child being thrown into a large open world candy store where every treat was available, and what feels like an endless assortment of euphoria. This may also come as somewhat of a drawback for some however because there’s just so much to dive into, that you’ll scratch your hand wondering which way you originally came from. Of course, if you’re a true Rare junkie you’ll know that the team is notorious for having players collect more than they should, and we love that so much. There’s no spoon feeding at all, everything is meant for you to figure out on your own and you’re rewarded heavily for using your brain. Even the moves you obtain from Trowsers requires some effort because you’ll need to collect enough Quild to even unlock them, or even unlock new worlds. Dr. Quack’s quizzes are another fantastic example of Playtonic Games’ ability to test you and see whether you’re actually paying attention or not.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Honestly, we could go on forever about how brilliant Yooka-Laylee is, but then we’d risk spoiling more than we should and that’s never a good thing. To sum up everything, in a nutshell, Yooka-Laylee is a must have for any fan of 3D platformers, Rare’s nostalgic presence, and just simply an incredibly immersive gameplay experience. Whether it’s Rextro’s throwback appearance to those good old 64 bit days and mini games, or transforming into a snow plow and crushing every enemy in your path, Yooka-Laylee has just about everything checked off on the 3D platformer list along with bonuses to keep you hungry for more. There’s even a co-op mode that you can take advantage of as well, so we encourage you to grab a close friend and play along in this massively open world game together.
In closing, Playtonic Games promised to deliver and they certainly did albeit a few bugs here and there but weren’t game breaking. Nintendo brought us The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but Playtonic Games’ Yooka-Laylee provides us with a Breath of Fresh Air.
An enormous amount of depth and exploration, a trait of the former Rare team.
A kaleidoscope of colors makes Yooka-Laylee eye candy potential.
Over 40 hours of gameplay ranging from collecting Pagies to just wandering around for fun.
Co-op mode is a great way to share your experiences with friends.
Rextro’s mini games are not only nostalgic but incredibly fun.
Yooka and Laylee’s humor is on point as expected from the former Rare vets.
Simple in design yet each character feels very fleshed out.
Some of the enemies may be too simple to beat, so they end up being ignored.
A few camera bugs here and there, but those hopefully will be patched out.
Perhaps the enormous amount of exploration may turn some people off.
Honey's Final Verdict:
With so much to offer in Yooka-Laylee ranging from simple tasks to the more cleverly designed puzzles, Playtonic Games’ treasured title is sure to bring a smile to just about anyone who plays it, and will open up a new world of wonders for you to bask in. This game went above and beyond in terms of ensuring that fans of Banjo Kazooie are pleased while inviting those of the new generation to experience something totally masterful in design and a ton of depth that’s truly unforgettable. Playtonic Games is about to rejuvenate a genre that needed a major overhaul and if Yooka-Laylee is anything of an example of their capacity, then we’ll be sure to see more immaculately designed titles from this UK established company. A very big thank you to the folks at Team 17 for this wonderful opportunity, and big hats off to Playtonic Games on a successful title.
As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!