Yooka-Laylee Review: The Platinumists Perspective
Yooka-Laylee is making a lot of headlines and not all of them good. The game has been getting reviews in the 6’s and 7’s, but then there are also the reviews that give it a 2/10 or even a 4/10. Which begs the question? What the heck is going on with this game? Is it really that bad or is everyone just missing the point. Unfortunately I think the answer lies somewhere in between. It’s the greatest mixture of a 90’s kid dream and a now grown up gamers nightmare….One where you are endless jumping from platform to platform with the camera being constantly shoved up your….
(At times you really do feel like you are being cooked alive (or dead) playing this game)
Now typically when I talk about story it is usually the one thing I want to always be a tight experience, unless of course your gameplay is just so darn-tootin’ good that it makes me forget why I’m killing an army of undead playthings. Yooka-Laylee is in the spirit of 90’s platformers, which lets be honest as a genre doesn’t have the greatest track record with having memorable or amazing stories. Banjo-Kazooie of course stands out, but this is because the story is one so basic and easy to jump in and love. You can understand why banjo wants to save his sister and the game constantly reminds you of what will happen when you don’t.
Yooka-Laylee’s story though is something a bit closer to a Mario game or even Donkey Kong 64. Instead of it having a real motivation it involved a really “bad” dude and then some kind of collectible to enforce the idea that you need to collect them all. In fact Yooka’s story really is the weakest part of the game entirely because of a lack of motivation. You are laying out on your pirate ship the two of them talking amongst each other, your “special” book flies off and pages start to fall out in the world. You then look up and Main Bad guy Capital B has a factory that is sucking in all kinds of books. Yooka and Laylee get mad and decide that they are going to get all the pagies back for their book.
So yes the inspiration is a little flimsy to be sure, it’s not the worst thing out there by any means, but it’s not strong either. You journey to multiple worlds to collect these pagies all the while Capital B sits in his Hivory Towers being an atypical rich fat bee. These worlds really are wonderful though and something I really enjoyed. Every world is fantastically made and realized and feels like they are really out of a 90’s kids fever dream. Every area is different, but it doesn’t feel like it is a step up from other 90’s platformers, but what they do here is unique and fun…most of the time.
(If that doesn’t say menacing to you….I don’t know what does)
In fact in short that’s what most of the writing and storytelling here really tries to do. It just tries to be fun. It’s never a serious life or death thing, and all the little quests you do for characters in the world are just kind of funny and short little adventures. Between a cart who want’s you to blow up someone’s mushroom patch and a buzz light-year wannabe who has you go and blow up a moon to start a genocide on another race, the missions stories are ludicrous, but fun.
That’s the biggest compliment to give here though. It may not be a strong story by any means, but the little stories on the side definitely give the game a greater sense of story. The only complaint here would be that I wish each world would not have reoccurring characters, it kind of breaks the idea that these are individual worlds. Could just be me though…
(All the character’s are unique and funny, but maybe they shouldn’t be in every world…)
Now obviously this game is pretty. This stays pretty consistent and there were only a handful of times that I thought that something stood out as being odd, but in all honesty it was pretty rare and never affected my enjoyment of the game. Every area in the game feels unique and I didn’t feel like I saw the same assets over and over again and that’s a good thing.
In fact the amount of personification and characterization in the game is pretty astounding. Every enemy feels a little unique, even if they aren’t threatening, and that’s a good thing because the game desperately needs that in comparison to the buddy-duo. Yooka and Lamee are the two who really needed more characterization. I felt like they were kind of blank characters and this could be for a number of reasons, but I felt they were a little too flat regardless. Yooka is a little too soft spoken and lets help everyone, and laylee is just a big ol’ jerk, which is reminiscent of Kazooie, but the charm is missing.
This charm is missing for a number of reasons. First and I think the biggest travesty is the audio. Now the music is great, some themes feel like they are straight out of my childhood, not every track is a masterpiece, but hey they can’t all be winners. The biggest audio issue is in the voices. Just like Banjo this game utilizes grunts and groans for the voices, which is really reminiscent, but doesn’t translate well now. Some characters feel very good with this design, but some and mostly Yooka and Laylee’s voices feel overdone and just a bit too annoying for my tastes.
(Rextro is freaking cool, his voice however, not so much)
This is a cool touch and with some characters and NPC’s in the game it’s neat, but I think that there has to be a better voice system than what was done in the past. The other big reason the charm is missing is that level design can be a bit lacking. Now I said the levels are cool and pretty, but they don’t feel extremely unique. These are big worlds and they can be a little daunting at times, but the biggest problem is there doesn’t feel like a justification for them.
If these worlds are so big I would have liked to have seen unique things done with them, rather than the usual “here’s some collectibles hidden in the world, and oh yeah there’s a puzzle in this area of the open world, figure it out”, it just feels a little lazy at times. There are only five world and three of them are very typical fair, a Aztec jungle, an icy plains and a swamp. Pretty traditional. My two favorite levels are at the end with the Casino and the Space theme, I know some didn’t like the casino, but it had a ton of character and was unique compared to the rest.
That’s the biggest presentational issue here though, I just feel like I’m missing out on something like Canker’s Cavern or even the workshops of Donkey Kong 64. These aren’t terrible levels, but I don’t think they particularly stand out here. For a nostalgia trip I felt like the past games were way better and selling a world’s unique aspects.
(I liked the casino, there I said it, now chastise me)
So here is the either best or worst part of the game depending on who you are. If you are a fan of 90’s platformers, this gameplay will fight right in. If you wanted a smooth as butter platformer with 90’s influences you might as well shut the front door and tell this game to walk 9 miles back to that damned bus. Here’s the thing, this game is a 90’s platformer with all the same problems from back then, annoying mini-games, check, bad camera at times, check, collectibles that seem impossible to get and are freaking timed! Check.
Now if you are like me and grew up loving these ideas though, they will still frustrate you, but you will still enjoy the nostalgia. Yooka and Laylee control great most of the time. Combat is basic and non-intrusive, general platforming feels fun and easy to learn and the super abilities are great fun to use…most of the time. Some powers feel useless and pointless due to how specific they are. Such as using your tonuge as a grappling hook on certain grappling points, it feels unique but it’s actually tied to where the camera is facing, not your characters.
Little things like this keep the gameplay from being great, but overall it still feels well done. Just a little more polish would have made it great. The gameplay is more than just platforming though with mini-games from everybody’s favorite polygonic dinosaur, Rextro, Dr. Puzz who transforms everyone and of course Kartos the mining cart. These three are some of the most irritating parts of the game, not because they aren’t cool, but rather the game gets a little too old school. Dr. Puzz transforms you if you find something called a moleycool, and you transform into something interesting just like Banjo and Kazooie.
(Transformation’s are unique, but unfortunately, not memorable)
They are a little lackluster however and because of how big the worlds are they feel like a waste, especially since some of them are only used for 5 minutes at the most. Then Rextro has his mini-games and oh dear god are they annoying. These are some of the hardest and annoying parts of the game. They control poorly and are not fun…period. Although I did like Rextro, but his games can burn in a fiery death! Then we have Kartos which is supposed to be reminiscent of the carting sections from Donkey Kong Country. They aren’t. They are just okay. Some are hard, some are easy but one thing for certain, they just aren’t fun.
The collection part of this game is a blast though and for the most part the game is extremely fun to play. There are tonics to unlock by doing certain things in the game, pagies to find, and powers to unlock and it makes for a fun experience, but so many of the gameplay addition are not fun and I wish they were better done.
(Dr. Puzz…..you are no Mumbo Jumbo..but you’ll do for now)
Alright so first off I did platinum this game and I will say it is not a hard game to platinum, but it isn’t a necessarily fun one to platinum either. To beat the game you need 100/145 pagies. That is not too hard to do, what is hard is going back and playing through everything to find them. Most pagies are pretty easy to find and you will remember where you missed most of them. The hardest trophy by far though is finding all 1,010 quills. This is a chore. Much like any collection trophy though it is doable.
Some quick tips for the quills, one, check everywhere. Some of these suckers are hidden way too well. Two, get the tonic for rare items. This will make noise once you are near a rare collectible (something you have less of ten of), this will make the quills a little easier to find, but still a pain. The third tip is don’t give up. Sometimes they are sitting out in the open and you are flying by too quickly. So take your time and walk through the level to make sure you aren’t just flying right past them. The rest of the trophies are pretty simple.
In fact most of the trophies you will unlock merely by playing through the game. The only other hidden trophies to worry about are finding the pirate treasures. Most of these are in obscure places and luckily you can google where they are now. You may find 1 or 2 by accident, but for the most part they are super well hidden. Now should you platinum this game? Well if you are going to be playing it to the end I say yes. You will only be putting in about another 3-4 hours tops finding the rest of the things, and if you are following a guide for them it will be even easier. Overall about 24-25 hours to platinum the game. Just don’t get discouraged, it’s not too bad.
(It may seem like a lot, but it’s really not that bad)
The final words to say on this is that this really isn’t for everyone. If you have played a 90’s platformer you have played this game. It doesn’t add anything too new to the genre and it really doesn’t need to be played by everyone. If you are wanting that nostalgia trip though it’s totally for you. From a Platinumist perspective it was a game I really enjoyed, but got really frustrated with. This is really your call on if you want it. It’s only 40.00 USD, so it’s not a full priced game, but it’s not super long and it is really dated even today.
So what did you think of Yooka-Laylee, and what do you think of my blog? Leave me a comment down below and lets discuss!