It may have been many years since the platforming team of Banjo and Kazooie last graced consoles, but they’ve never been forgotten and there’s always been a thirst for a successor to Rare’s great pairing. It’s lucky, then, that Yooka Laylee succeeded in passing its Kickstarter goals as we finally have one.
Developed by some of the original Rare team, Yooka Laylee pretty much stamps its influence on the screen from the moment you begin. The bright pastel colours and the team up of two very different creatures as one, this time featuring a bat and an iguana, plus the very obvious naming conventions mean that you’re in no doubt as to what this is supposed to be.
The story involves pages from various books being taken by an evil mastermind, including a special magic book which, luckily, manages to spread pages everywhere before being captured. It’s up to our reluctant heroes to investigate and save the books, collecting pagies, defeating weird and wacky bosses and helping a series of strange characters along the way. The humour will certainly be familiar to fans of the early games, as will the strange jumbled speech.
It’s fun revisiting a game that keeps things relatively simple, jumping, collecting and solving simple puzzles, all while taking in the beautiful level design of each of the five worlds. A little collecting work is required to capture both the pagies, which allow you to open new areas, and quills that can help upgrade your moves and weapons, something you’ll certainly need sooner rather than later.
Missions take place all over the map and sometimes you’ll run into them by accident. They’re all entertaining, though some are more difficult than others. There are some really neat races and even an 8-bit top down racer to play in order to collect those hard to get pagies. The difficulty level is set just right to provide a challenge but never anything too frustrating.
But Yooka Laylee on PS4 and Xbox One also brings with it the same sort of issues those earlier games faced back in the day. The camera never quite gets the hang of being in the right place during tricky timed jumps and the puzzles sometimes feel a little stretched. It’s not enough to dampen the whole joyful fun of the game, though.
The Switch version arrives long after the other consoles but benefits from Playtonic’s build that redesigns the graphics to take advantage of Nintendo’s console. As a result, this version plays smoothly and looks great both in TV mode and handheld. It plays at a smooth 30fps and even the camera issues on the Xbox One and PS4 have been tweeked to be more user friendly. For those of us old enough to remember the N64 platformers the first time around, it also feels like the game really belongs here, even more so when you can play the game away from the TV.
Yooka Laylee manages to succeed in bringing back the great old platformers of the N64 era and adding a little shine to the game in the process. It’s well worth a play if you hanker after a decent platform game unburdened by modern gaming, especially for Nintendo Switch owners.