A loving homage to Banjo-Kazooie (1998) and collectathons from the 1990s, here’s a rather special game we quickly came to love.
From Playtonic Games in Derby of England, the developer consists largely of former staff members from Rare.
And that goes some way to explaining why this title is so gloriously similar to Rare’s Nintendo 64 efforts in the 1990s.
Having played Banjo-Tooie recently, we were absolutely in the mood for some more. And Yooka-Laylee is a charming and enjoyable 3D platforming outing.
You star as Yooka and Laylee, two lizard monster type dudes living in a vibrant world. When the antagonist sucks up all the world’s books using a majigger contraption.
The dynamic duo lose a precious book, so head over to Hivory Towers Corporation to piece it back together and restore order. Let platforming commence!
And, yes, what platforming. It’s very reminiscent of 1990s Nintendo 64 platformers, but in a more advanced setting with modern sensibilities.
We quickly took to the title enormously and really enjoyed it. With its amazing looks and retro/modern charm, we bloody well swooned for it.
It even has the super cute voice acting style from Banjo’s series.
The game’s sense of humour is wonderful, too. One of our favourite characters is Rextro, who abandoned modern gaming in 1997 to keep on with single-player titles.
Another is The Great Rampo. He’s a furious wall convinced Yooka and Laylee are sales people trying to flog him windows. You end up having to do battle with him to prove you’re not.
Playtonic Games’ focus on adding real character to the enemies/NPCs you come across really helps to add charm to proceedings.
Even the little baddies are full of personality as they bumble about the place. It’s a neat little touch. And Shovel Knight turns up at one point, too, for a cameo!
The game isn’t perfect, though. The camera system, for example, is a bloody nightmare.
Almost like it’s been added in as a loving homage to dodgy 3D platformer camera systems from decades back.
It’s a bit weird the team didn’t fix it, but there we go.
Also, this is very much a retro type experience with its approach to collectathons. Many modern gamers may find it frustrating to go about collecting loads of stuff to progress.
However, minor gripes aside we have to say we were very surprised by the Yooka-Laylee.
It’s great fun, very charming, and bowled us over with its sense of joy. Very happy bunnies we are about it.
Another glorious thing about Yooka-Laylee is its fantastic soundtrack.
This is another recent work from British industry legend composer David Wise. So, there’s no surprise it’s bloody excellent.
Although he did collaborate with Steve Burke on Yooka-Laylee’s pieces, there’s the familiar Wise stamp of quality all over it.
You can find the whole soundtrack on YouTube and it’s well worth a listen.
As always, we like to flag up the incredible music from the world of video games. And David Wise is one of the masters still at work today.