The Nintendo 64 for me will always be remembered as the generation that took Mario out of 2D gaming and put him into the 3D world. Then a few years later Sega followed suit and gave Sonic fans a proper Sonic title in the 3D universe. Since then we have had countless open world platform games released some doing great and others not so great. Playtonic Games who are veterans of the platform genre along with Team17 have unleashed Yooka-Laylee. This is a title that will take many older gamers right back to the classic days with some great humour thrown in for good measure.
The game starts off with Yooka and Laylee, a lizard and bat duo, just chilling soaking up the rays in shipwreck creak. Then they start to notice that books are getting all sucked into Hivory Towers. The owner of said company Capital B, is collecting all the worlds books in order to gain the power to take control of the world. As one of the books is heading towards Hivory Towers the duo notice “pagies” starting to rip free from the book. In order to overcome Capital B the team must fetch and rescue all the pagies scattered across five very different worlds and within Hivory Towers itself. The story may not be out of this world but the comedy and colourful characters you meet throughout the adventure will have those that grew up in the N64 days reminiscing and laughing.
When it comes to the gameplay those familiar with the likes of Donkey Kong Country and Banjo-Kazooie will feel right at home as you navigate through the worlds. At the very beginning you are slowly introduced to the various movements as you head towards Hivory Towers. The first person you will meet is Trowzer the snake who will be the go to guy for learning new moves for progression to your final goal. There are a total of nine moves to purchase all offering something different. The moves are the usual type like rolling, a slam move, Laylee getting the ability to fly you anywhere etc. These moves are not just for show as you will use them to solve puzzles to capture pagies.
The currency for purchasing the above moves is quills which there is an abundance of, in fact you will collect enough to have all the moves in no time. I only wish there was more ways in which you could use them. The pagies on the other hand are not so easy to get with a certain amount hidden throughout each world. Each of the five worlds require a certain number to unlock and then another amount to expand. Hivory Towers acts as the games main hub, from which you will travel to each of the worlds. You don’t have to expand the worlds straight away, you can just unlock each and then go back and expand. Let’s talk more about the worlds below.
Each of the five worlds in the game have their own theme. You have a tropical location, winter themed location, hunted themed location, Casino themed and even a Space themed location. You could say there are six locations as the Hivory Towers becomes a world/game hub where you can find pagies. As you head to each World Trowzer the snake will give you one free move on top of the nine you can buy, which will help you get some of the pagies. This is also why collecting pagies becomes more challenging the further into the game you get. Most adults will not have too much trouble getting them but it will provide a nice challenge for the kids.
I have to applaud the level design on each of the locations as they might not look large at first but that’s only because you haven’t expanded them. There is plenty of things to do in each world from helping out the various characters you will come across. These range from pigs to snowmen and even talking trolley’s. If you take the first world for example you are asked to find and speak to each of the pigs hidden through the level. Each pig will give you a clue to the other’s location. There is also a cloud character that you will get to race against and is an example of how you will get a free move from Trowzer the snake to get you started in each world. I have to admit the best character for me is Rextro who you will find beside an arcade machine in each world. They are all single player and two player local and while they are a little hit and miss on the fun element, I just love the banter between Rextro and the duo. They make fun of how times have moved on to internet play etc. The older generation will laugh at this although the younger generation may not quite get some of the references.
There is still more to collect and people to see in each world. The first is a character that can transform you but only if you find the atom/molecule hidden away in each level. I found them fairly easily after some exploration. Once you have this you can transform into something else to get some of the pagies. For example in the first world you can become a plant so you can speak to the other plants. In the Casino you can become a helicopter and give a lift to a few characters. Other collectibles you can hunt down are the five ghost writers in each world and these do certainly provide a challenge. Each of them need to be caught in a certain way making use of your abilities. Why go to all this trouble to find all these collectibles? Well these will help unlock game modifiers which can help you in obtaining certain pagies a lot easier. The only catch is that you can only have one modifier on at any given time.
There are also bosses to find in each world, but you have to do exactly that, find them. I came across the boss in world two and world three before I found the boss in world one. This is something I love about the gameplay. It doesn’t hold your hand, in fact there are times you want it to but it doesn’t, this gives much more feeling of accomplishment because of it. The battle themselves are you typical multistage battles with repeating attacks but they are fun all the same.
Graphically the game does look very retro with colourful HD visuals. When you are what feels like two-hundred feet high in the sky in the tropics and look down it’s certainly a sight to behold. You will even spot areas that you would have missed when down on the ground and each of the worlds offer this type of overview. Quite a few of the collectibles dance and have their own animations giving you a cute factor overload. The visuals accompanied with the gameplay in Yooka-Laylee really reminds me of how I became so addicted to gaming and also reminds me of forgotten eras. I have been gaming since the ZX Spectrum days so it is a lot of memories. The soundtrack to the game is charming and delightful, although you should listen out for in-game sound effects which will tell you when you are near to a paige.
The Good Things
- Fun open-world Platformer.
- Plenty to do and collect.
- Great visuals.
And The Bad
- Can get frustrating at parts.
- Adult will most likely find it a doddle for the most part.
- There are two types of players that I see Yooka-Laylee aimed at, in one corner you have the retro gamer especially from the Nintendo 64 era and on the other you have the young gamer of today. I felt the comedy is aimed more at the older gamer and those that feel they must collect every single collectible in the game. The gameplay challenges I feel are more suited to a younger audience, although some were challenging even for me which I liked. I must say this has been a very enjoyable game with very few frustrating bits and is a great throwback to my younger days. Throughout the game it reminded me of Sonic Adventure, Mario 64 and even Team17’s Super Frog. This is a great title for the young gamers with plenty of challenges and collectibles to collect.
Takes me back to my younger gaming days and reminds me why I’m still a gamer today.