When Christmas 1998 was around the corner I was excited. I knew I was going to get Banjo-Kazooie for a Christmas present – in fact I knew.
I knew because weeks before Christmas Eve I had sneaked to the livingroom’s wardrobe and from there I found the stash. With my intuition (or mainly because I knew what shape of box Nintendo 64 games came as) I found the square box wrapped in paper. With care I removed the tape and wrappings and managed to get my very own Banjo-Kazooie game! Before Christmas!
Without anyone witnessing the theft I went back to my room and with my brother we started to play the game (audio in extremely low.)
I can’t never forget the feeling I had back then. The feeling of overjoy and somehow I felt deep connection with the game and all the magic it held inside.
(After each gaming session I put the game back in to the wrap and to the wardrobe with other presents and took it out when I wanted to play again.)
Then after couple of years Banjo-Kazooie was vanished from everywhere and everyone’s memory…
After years of hiatus I finally heard that there is going to be new Banjo-Ka… no, there is going to be a Yooka-Laylee —game. It was supposed be Banjo-Kazooie’s successor since seemed Microsoft managed to crush and burn one of the greatest adventure-platformer game. And now some of the (former) original Banjo-Kazooie team managed to escape from the blazing flames of Microsoft headquarter’s and with their triumph of joy they established a brand new company named Playtonics and they wanted to release Yooka-Laylee.
When I finally got the game (Yooka-Laylee) I was baffled. Eventhough I am nearly 30—year—old thing I didn’t felt overjoyed. I didn’t have that same feeling as I did when I was a kid. Maybe I’m just too old and life—experienced. Or maybe my major depression had something to do with it?
Whatever the reason was I wanted play the game nevertheless. I unwrap’d the game and pop the disc in and after familiar intros the game started and there it was… I was that little kid again.
My first impression of the game was positive. The game starts with evil Dr. Quark and his boss Cabital B. (yes one is a duck-ish and other a bee-ish) plotting their evil plans and starting the huge machine that would suck all books from the world so they could write the universe again. They even manage to get Laylee’s magical book scattering the pages (Pagies) all over the game world. The beginning is much like Banjo-Kazooie’s beginning, not plot-wise but feel-wise. Even the way the characters talk is familiar. If you can’t recall (I wonder how you wouldn’t) they talked with no words. No words at least to any human languages, they talk much like mumbling which is made from stacking weird mumbling-like voices together in very quick pace. It is very cute at first but can be really annoying in the long run.
Yooka (being lovely Banjo—like) and Laylee (being outspoken Kazooie—like) relaxing in the Shipwreck Creek at the time. After the “attack” they go after the missing book and they end up in the Cabital B.’s factory Hivory Tower which also play the main role of the game for being a hub world.
As in the Banjo-Kazooie in the Yooka-Laylee you need to collect not missing Puzzle pieces but missing Pagies from Yooka’s book. X —amount of them opens each world.
You’ll get your first Pagie from very beginning so you can unlock the first world called Tribalstack Tropics. This first level reminded me very much of Banjo-Kazooie’s first world Mumbo’s Mountain. Not that it was 3/10 of Tribalstack Tropics’ size but the fact it looked like it. Even the melody is the same kind. In fact throughout the game the soundtrack is very alike BK and we can thank Grant Kirkhope who was the composer in both the games.
In this very first world you’ll meet punch of lovely characters such as Trowzer (who will provide you new moves throughout the game exchange for Quills [Feathers from Banjo]).
There are many familiar moves and items related to Banjo-Kazooie (e.g. Yooka can use his lizard tongue and grab ammo and shoot fire, ice or water for a short period of time) which I think is a good and bad thing. Good thing is that if this is truly BK’s successor they sure need to have something familiarity together. Bad thing is that it might be too familiar and be lacking of imaginative. Level-wise throughout the game they are very similiar to BK as well except they are much larger.
All the worlds are designed to be re—visited. As you progress in the game you’ll unlock new moves and abilities which help you achieve something that was unavailable before.
The moves what the couple possess are called Reptile Roll, Sonar Shot, Buddy Slam, Glide etc…
Enemies are basically the same throughout. Basically because their attacks are the same but their appearance differs from world to world. Then there is other kind of enemies that are world—specified. All the enemies are easy to outdo, but can crank up difficulty level if there’s many different kind of enemies attacking you at once.
The controls are not that friendly not to mention the extremely BAD camera. There’s not enough numbers of how many times I yelled and cursed the bad camera!! It always got stuck somewhere or when you moved from platform to platform it suddenly changes the angle so you jump the character completely different way to your inevitable death. I don’t see why this is? In many situations there are no obstacles in the way which would not allow the camera be there in the first place so its location wasn’t needed to be changed so radically. This is something which I thought was long gone problem in video game industry. But no. Yooka—Laylee did not bring back just nostalgic, they also brought back bad camera—angles.
If we forget the bad camera the overall difficulty level of this game is not that hard. Except couple nearly impossible Pagies to collect. One to mention is a huge golf ball you’ll need to push through the obstacle course (the first one is kinda easy but with the second one they pumped up the difficult level out of the athosphere!). The second one is very similiar but is a way harder. Again you’ll need to push forward huge golf ball (down the hill to be exact) and you’ll need to keep up with it so it won’t fell over the edge. There is obstacles which you’ll need to get past and also enemies who can ruin your life right in a millisecond.
Then there comes a areas where there are enemies and one of them is hard to kill since you can’t attack it rapidly and also you need to activate three statues to open the gate which you have couple seconds to push the golf ball through. If you fail you’ll need to activate the statues again. Then come a huge windmill and you’ll need to get the ball through a small whole trying to avoid the mill’s propellers. They will easily throw the ball over the edge. Then there is again enemies and obstacles and you need to manage to get the ball down the hill to the hole. Yes, there is downhill all the time and the ball very easily drops over if it goes too fast and you can’t keep up at its pace.
Yes the enemies will re—spawn shortly after you have killed them. And yes there is time-limit. And yes it is nearly impossible. I literally start this mission over more than I have died alltogether in Nioh.
Pagie—collecting usually involves doing some weird tasks including helping or racing with someone or something, like a walking and talking cloud or mining wagon. The missions are easy on average but can be real pain in the butt sometimes.
I would say almost half of the Pagies is to be collected as another form. Yes form. This same option was in BK too where the Mumbo Jumbo (a shaman) helped the couple by changing them to some other animal and making them able to do or enter area not available before. In Yooka-Laylee there is same principal. There is a tentacle—woman called Dr. Puzz who will transform you to X —thing after you collect the world’s Mollecool and give it to her.
She will transform you such as a flower or a snowplough and other useful things.
In addition of having new moves from Trowzer there is a lady called Vendi. She is a vending machine who provide you Tonics (Play Tonics to be precise.) They’ll give your moves boost, enhance your abilities or add something funky to your gameplay.
You can get these Tonics by simply playing the game which I mean collecting certain amount of Pagies, Quills, Ghost Writers and so on. Sadly you can have one Tonic —power at time.
Some of the Tonics weren’t available to get when the game was released but will be in the near future.
Every world has its own main boss which varies greatly from difficulty. The bosses are as hilarious as everything else in Yooka-Laylee and they are fun to beat. Thankfully it does not require the boss to be cleared to get to the next world. What matters is the amount of Pagies.
For a huge letdown there is only few worlds to be adventure in. Five to be exact but they can be expanded with Pagies but just a little. It was sad how quickly the story was over but when I started to collect collectibles and I still haven’t manage to find it all after almost 30h in, so the leftovers are very tricky to find.
The list of all collectables is long. It includes;
— Ghost Writers (there is five different types of Ghost Writers and they all have their own special way to capture them. In each world there is five of them.)
— Rextro’s minigames (in every world there is a HUGE arcade game console which is owned by Rextro Sixtyfourus, a little digital dinosaurus. He will let you play his console after you find a Play Coin hidden in each world. If you manage to win the arcade game, which kind of ever it may be, you’ll get a Pagie for that and if you win a second time you’ll get another Pagie!)
— Tonics (Vendi the vending machine will provide you boost to the gameplay, so collecting them all would be smart idea.)
— Health and Power Extenders (raises your health or power level.)
— Pirate Treasures (there is 5 of them in total, one in each main world. It is currently unknown what these are for. Stop ‘n’ Swop, anyone?)
— Remaining Pagies and Quills (one does not need every Quill and Pagie to beat the game, but it is nice to have them all.)
— Trophies (PS4)
My last impression of the game is positive. Yooka-Laylee is full of loveable and cute characters. Stacked with collectibles. A lot! The background music is pleasant to listen and it oomphs your will to go an adventure. The game is nostalgic as hell (and upcoming N64 —style graphics mode — I can’t wait!) With funny British humour this whole package is ready to go. From crowdfunded to release I would say it is excellent execution, but lacks of perfomance. The forced and times stucked camera angles and tasks which aquires super—human powers to complete them kills the mood quickly.
It is sad that there wasn’t any collector’s edition of this marvelous game or any statuette or any kind of collectible except a soundtrack CD and vinyl and some postcards which game to crowdfunders. There was expensive (300—400€) collectibles which also came for crowdfunders but they were very limited like a N64 —style box with a gamecatridge (not working) including a USB storage. And bunch of other knick—knacks, but all these was only for crowdfunders.
To wrap up everything said above in to a one package with 40€ price tag I would say… Just one more level!
P.S. I never got caught.
Pagie—collecting usually involves doing some weird tasks including helping or racing with someone or something
One More Level points: