Yes, you read that right! Of all things your Uncle Deadpool could finally come back to do (review Logan, Lego Batman, Kong: Skull Island, the new Power Rangers, etc.), I've chosen to go with a video game designed to fuel people's nostalgia-holes. Back in May of 2015, a group of people (formerly in Rare) from what I'll simply refer to as the "glory days" of platforming games, got together and decided "You know what? We need more effing platforming games!!!" and thus, Yooka Laylee was born! This also caused people to reminisce about the days before Rare was bought by Microsoft, and when Perfect Dark Zero didn't yet exist. So yes, like other crowd-funded projects, we had another successful Kickstarter hit on our hands. Did this one manage to fulfill our dreams, or did we fall through with another Mighty Number Nope!? Read below, true believers!!!
Thank you for reading below. Reviewing this one is tough. I obviously enjoyed myself to some degree (as I spent over 25 freaking hours getting all of the achievements to prove it!), but I can't help but look back on how many things frustrated me the whole way through. First, I'll get the basic statement out of the way. This team did exactly what they said they were going to do: Release a 90's-era platforming game in the style of such classics as Banjo Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country. So it was written, so it shall be done. The thing is, some people forgot that you need to be careful what you wish for...
So we did get a 90's-style platformer... Completely. Down to the tee. For those who don't understand why that may be a bad thing, allow my old ass to educate you here. 90's platform games were very well received, particularly due to the success of games like Mario 64, Crash Bandicoot (which is arguably more like 2.5D), Banjo Kazooie, Rayman 2, and many others. I personally loved the Gex series myself. These games had specific features in common, like collecting a bunch of items throughout large, open-world stages, as well as big items (like Stars in Mario) to collect and finish the stage. While everybody has huge nostalgia boners over these games (and for good reason, I'd say. Scha-wing!), these games were not without their faults too. On one hand, they were mostly hard as hell. Not only because of the skill it took to move your character from place to place, but rather the impossible-ass camera system. This is one of the main reasons I know that most kids trying to pick this up in today's day and age will be extremely confused and put off by it, while the people like me, who grew up with this shit will simply mutter, "Oh God... It's back again."
Yes, the horrible camera you probably remember fighting with back then has reared its old, ugly head once again. Need to see an enemy coming at you AND be able to dodge them in time? Too bad if the camera wasn't pointing that way, because you won't be able to move it back in time! Trying to make that tricky jump that requires complete precision? Oh, that's nice... It'd be a shame if someone... moved the camera just as you were making the essential jump, causing you to die pointlessly! Yes, it will happen here. And it will happen often. I'm sorry. I am so, so sorry.
Your main controls are fine enough. Actually moving the characters around feels pretty smooth and high jumps/gliding are all well executed. Attacking could be better, but it's not bad overall. The worlds are open and vast enough, that you could explore one of the five main levels for hours and still not have seen everything there is to see. That's awesome, and one of the main things that kept me going up to the end.
So what held me back? Well, quite a few things unfortunately. And no, it wasn't just the camera. Some sections of the game would require you to transform into other creatures/vehicles and use their abilities to unlock more collectibles. The majority of these transformations were actually TERRIBLE to control. Especially that snow plow. What in the actual F$%K was up with that damn snow plow!??? God, I don't even want to talk about it, it was THAT frustrating. *grumblemumble* There were also many questionable design decisions made throughout. The strangest one off the top of my head involved the 5th mission (a level in space). Instead of having you slip into some kind of void if you fell off a platform, you'd instead fall into... water... in space... Yeah... Odd things like that really turned me off and just straight up confused me.
The voices in the game didn't help either. Do you remember that odd, but somewhat funny babbling you'd hear in place of voices during the Banjo Kazooie games? Well, it's 300x more annoying here, and I was tempted to mute the game a bunch of times because of it. The game's main villain (a large, capitalist bee in a business suit... because why not, I guess?) and Laylee were especially annoying to listen to. Also..., Laylee is racist as hell toward the other characters in the game. What's up with that!?
Here's a point I feel very awkward about making... A lot of you fell in love with me as character because of more than just my amazing ass (hard to imagine, I know!), but also the way I poke fun at the 'real world' with all of my 4th wall humor! So you'd think I would love all of the 'meta' jokes going around in this game too, right? Eh... at the risk of sounding like a hypocritical merc' with a mouth, I have to say, no. It would be fine if they made little jabs about the game's performance every once in a while (like I so masterfully accomplish... UNICORN FRAPPUCCINO REFERENCE!!!), but this game makes at least one or two with every single conversation! That's too damn much. It wears out its welcome fast, and that's unbelievably sad.
Speaking of sad, do you remember hating that annoying quiz section in Banjo Kazooie? Like it was probably the one thing you don't think fondly of when you look back on it? Well, guess what's back for no apparent reason!?... Seriously. I think these devs were convinced they had to remake Banjo Kazooie at all costs, and forget about any actual criticism it got at the time. These are not fun!!! They are annoying, and cause me to throw things that I now have to dig out of my wall... AND pay for a new wall!!! GRRRRR!!!
Okay, okay. I need to settle down a bit. It wasn't ALL bad. Like, I said, the game is still perfectly functional. For every annoying ass camera problem, there's a great idea hidden within. Some of the challenges were pretty creative and kept me curious enough to keep going and see what was up next. I also LOVED the background music that the game implemented. If anything truly brought me back to the 90's platformer nostalgia bonanza, it was that sweet sweet music. Just the right amount of orchestral and atmospheric, changing whenever you went underwater or into a cave. Ah yes, that Was. The. Shit!
You can tell this game was clearly designed for fans of the genre, by looking at the actual requirements to get to the final boss encounter and finish the game. Out of the 145 collectibles hidden throughout the game's main map and five worlds, you need to collect over 100 of them. That's... a LARGE portion of them just to get to the end. I went for them all, because I was planning to anyway, but that can be really off-putting to someone just trying to dip their feet in. It doesn't help that the final boss fight has so many phases that it almost becomes comical (except it doesn't, because you die a lot trying to figure the fight patterns out, only to have to start from the beginning and watch annoying UNSKIPPABLE dialog every time!!! WRYYYYYYYY!!!!!!). Not cool. Not cool at all. I thought you were COOL, game!!!
Despite all of my foaming at the mouth over these little nuances that brought down the experience, I still came out of the game satisfied in the end. No, really! I found myself not being able to stop until I collected every little thing, and obtained every single achievement, and not every game can get me to do that! Like I said above, this IS a 90's platforming game through and through. Whether that is a good thing or not is up to you, but I came out of it feeling content, and don't regret throwing money into the Kickstarter frenzie. But so help me, Playtonic... If we get a sequel and I find out you're throwing in more annoying quiz sections... I'll do to you what I did to Destiny!!!... Which is basically, play it after you already got my money, complain a bit, and then likely still buy whatever you put out in the future. THAT'LL SHOW YA!!!
7 Objects Named After Cheesy Puns Out Of 10
Okay, so it was actually a decent title if you're one of those gamers who wanted a true sequel to the Banjo Kazooie games, but not much else. If you weren't already in love with this style of game before, you DEFINITELY won't be after this and should probably stay far away. I still applaud the developers for their efforts and wish them the best of luck in the future... and less quizzes. Seriously, I will never stop ranting about those f#$king quizzes... TOODLES!!!