WARNING: This is not a review, I repeat, this is not a review. This is me talking about my experience with the game WITH review aspects. This is MY opinion, if yours differ, fine, you can disagree with me…in a civilised manner, but please, no drama.
God damn, I don’t understand. I’m going to do something different with this because my experience playing this game (about 12 hours) have been vastly unexpected. For you see, this game is supposed to be a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie, and that’s a great game, I find it absolutely perfect. I do not like Banjo-Tooie and its confusing level design so I hoped that it would adopt more from Kazooie than Tooie. But instead of taking elements of both games and making a much better game that would appeal to all audiences, it instead took all elements of both, not improving upon anything and fans of the original games will willingly except it because NOSTALGIA. Like I said, I really like Banjo-Kazooie (albeit the Xbox 360 port) and it was a game I first played a couple of years ago. So lets see what went right and what went absolutely wrong.
Look at this intro, this was an intro that I didn’t want to make, one I didn’t think I should have made, it was going to be about the memories of playing Banjo-Kazooie and having fun with it whilst Tooie can burn in a dumpster fire (be right back, going to put on my bulletproof vest). It was going to be talking about the death of 3D platformers and how people were in need for a new Banjo-Kazooie game.
And then old developers of Rare (A Rare before they sold their dignity to Microsoft) created their new company called Playtonic Games and asked people for money to make this game possible and…I was one of the many people who backed it…well a friend of mine paid for that backing because he REALLY wanted this to succeed and so did I. Over £2 million later and after about a year of waiting and being unable to change to a physical copy because it needed my card details to do so and f*** that, I got the PlayStation 4 port and once the code was sent to me, I immediately downloaded it and played it for the first time.
Yooka-Laylee, developed by Playtonic Games and published by Team 17 and was released in 2017. It was released on 11th April to be precise, but I guess as a backer, I was able to play it one day early.
So, remember how the villain in Banjo-Kazooie was a witch? Well let’s get ready for a letdown with a generic corporate boss named Capital B…because he’s a bee. His plan is to steal every single book in the world in the hopes of getting the golden book that will allow him to re-write history. Hey arsehole, 1984 is a fictional story, not an instruction book (and anyone can use it as an instruction book regardless of who you are XD).
Meanwhile, Yooka the Lizard and Laylee the Bat are relaxing until they realise that the golden book they possess is being sucked away by Captial B, but some of the pages were ripped apart and flew away. So it’s up to Yooka and Laylee to retrieve all the pages back…or Pagies as the game calls them, and to defeat Capital B…I guess.
When I first played the game, moving around felt good and jumping was good, I went to talk to Trowzer, a snake in trousers…trouser snake…OK! But anyway, I went into Hivory Towers, the main hub of the game and after faffing around and still enjoying myself, I went into the first world, Tribalstack Tropics.
Tribalstack Tropics was green, jungly and it looked beautiful…but the world was WAY too big, but at this point I didn’t have an issue with it at first. The music as I listened to it, was amazing, I love this piece, it was an early piece and was used as a prototype but it was too good to be changed and thank goodness for that. I then found Clara, a damsel-in-distress, who needs help so she can get out of the pot. The joke is she’s a skeleton implying that she’s been overcooked, I found that funny but Laylee’s puns ruined it.
I go around collecting Quills like how you collected music notes, the Jingles are replaced with Ghost Writers, though instead of simply collecting them, you need something or need to do something in order to collect them, so one needs feeding, one needs you to have a new ability to get one, something like that.
There are tons of Pagies to collect, more than what you’d need to find in Banjo-Kazooie. Like in the original 3D platformers, you’d need to complete an objective or solve a puzzle. I managed to get most of the Pagies until I wondered about and got bored trying to figure out where to do next. I left Tribalstack Tropics and the game tells me (and told me in the world too) that should I have enough Pagies, I can expand the world so I can get more Pagies, so there’s more to do and I thought, “cool, let’s get some more Pagies”.
And then the red flag was raised once I fought the first boss and MAN did the controls show it’s issues out of nowhere…well sort of. So you’re meant to roll up a hill to dodge falling logs, but the rolling is terrible since turning makes you go around and at that point, you’re still going straight and you’ll get hit by the logs and sometimes you can get hit again by logs that haven’t landed on the floor and by the third part of the boss, you have no way to dodge the logs since there’s no gap, you need to awkwardly jump over them and it really wasn’t fun at all, thank goodness there’s no lives, so you can die how much you want, I’m surprised Playtonic didn’t add lives to the game, now that would have been a kick in the teeth.
So I tried to get more Pagies, even meeting Shovel Knight and collecting a gem for him because SHOVEL KNIGHT…now that’s a game I really need to continue playing…after a year of stopping for some reason. And then I got lost, there were Pagies there but I didn’t know what to do. I decided out of curiosity to find some guides, which was difficult since it was a new game but I found some to help.
This is where I realised how much this game f**** up in terms of puzzles. Whilst some objectives and puzzles were easy to complete and solve, some made me went, “How was I supposed to know that?” The game never gives you clues in anything, there are some that do give you the resources to solve a puzzle nearby, but others rely on you buying moves you don’t know you need so you need to collect as much Quills as possible, and even more annoying is that you need to go to later worlds to collect the correct moves and backtrack to previous worlds.
And then I go to Glitterglaze Glacier and the music is probably my favourite here, it’s so beautiful but the world is still too big and now boring. I did some of the objectives and found Pagies but now we get to where the game just killed it for me.
First up, Dr. Puzz and her transforming machine, an alternative to Mumbo Jumbo. In Tribalstack Tropics, you turn into a plant and you only need to use it ONCE to get a Pagie. In Glitterglaze Glacier, you turn into a truck and the game practically tells you to precise platform…as a truck…even though the controls don’t work for platforming AT ALL and apparently this was good gameplay…F*** OFF! No, that’s a terrible gameplay mechanic, OH BUT IT GETS WORSE WITH…
Secondly, Gloomy f****** Gem Grotto, the one area in Glitterglaze Glacier that practically put me off this game. So, you need to glow using fireflies and you need to roll on ice…in the dark, but the glow of Yooka is supposed to help, but the ice path is so narrow that it’s difficult to even see where you’re going. This isn’t too bad until there was a part where I had to roll and jump on ice and hop over the ice platforms to get to where I needed to go, but because the controls were severely delayed, I fell and died and the game sent me back to the entrance Gloomy Gem Grotto, meaning I had to go all the way back to where I died and it happened again and again and when I eventually jumped on the ice whilst still rolling, the camera went all over the place and I fell again, that’s when I gave up.
The next day, I tried again, and after more failures, I managed to complete the challenge and got the Pagie, and instead of feeling victorious, I felt absolutely disgruntled. That’s a pattern I noticed, especially with the first boss, for every problem I miraculously solve, there’s always something else wrong I find because after that, I did the challenge in finding the snowmen’s hats and getting absolutely bored with it and I’ve stopped and I never want to touch it, maybe one day, but not at this point.
I was disappointed with this game overall, there are some great things in the game, the gameplay is fun but at the same time can bore me or get irritating with some delayed controls and a poor camera at the worst possible time. The humor was also mixed, some good, some atrocious. The music was mixed, some pieces are excellent and some are not great. The music was composed by Grant Kirkhope, David Wise and Steve Burke, some of the most talented musicians and made some fine tunes back in the day and they can still make some memorable pieces, but again, the other half isn’t that great.
The graphics were…OK, the game was made using the Unity engine, something I have dabbled in before for college and OH BOY does it show. For a cartoony-looking game, the graphics are mixed, it looks great for when you’re seeing a vast world around you but then at times, especially in Glitterglaze Glacier, can visually bore you, I even looked at gameplay for later worlds like Moodymaze Marsh and it didn’t look any better. Though Capital Cashino on the other hand looked great from a visual standpoint. But the worlds are far too big for my liking, if you liked Banjo-Tooie, you’ll probably get a kick out of this one, that’s for sure.
The main characters are mixed too, I like Yooka and his sensible personality, but Laylee…the developers tried so hard to make her Kazooie and tried so hard to emulate her snappy wit, but it came across as annoying and, for the lack of a better word, try hard. The main villain wasn’t interesting and other supporting characters didn’t have that touch that made Banjo-Kazooie a game with great characters regardless of being a main character or an NPC.
So I won’t give an overall because I never finished it but I played enough to fully give you my experience. Now some of you think I’m just nitpicky, but everyone has their own opinions and you should respect that. I was expecting a game like Banjo-Kazooie, because that game still has memorable worlds, memorable characters, gameplay that still holds up and a better camera. THIS, isn’t Mighty No. 9, I repeat, THIS IS NOT Mighty No. 9…although the removal of JonTron may have been its own curse. This however, is a game that we thought we wanted, but came out something of a mixed bag of greatness and frustration. If you like the game, all the more power to you, but I’m disappointed with it, but I don’t regret playing it and a part of me really wants Playtonic to succeed so that their next game, whether it be a sequel or something new, can show how incredible the developers can be. I mean, the first game is always the faulty one, maybe the sequel could be the one to make 3D platformers viable again.
You can get it on Steam, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and coming soon on the Nintendo Switch.