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May 8, 2017 | by  | in Games | [ssba]


Developer: Playtonic Games

Publisher: Team17 Digital

Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC (Windows, macOS, Linux), Nintendo Switch

Review copy supplied by publisher


Is anyone else really sick of nostalgia being used to sell us shit? ’Cause I am.

For those unaware, back in the late ’90s and early 2000s a studio called Rareware released a series of 3D platformers for the Nintendo 64 called Banjo-Kazooie, which are much beloved despite their age. A group of former Rareware developers formed Playtonic with the intention of making a spiritual successor to Banjo; they started a crowdfunding campaign, raised nearly $4 million, and managed to capture the attention and goodwill of ’90s kids everywhere.

It’s just a shame that what we got isn’t worth anywhere near the hype.

Being only 21-years old and having never owned a Nintendo 64, I have few nostalgic feelings for the “collectathon” 3D platformers which Yooka-Laylee is trying to invoke. Everything about its design is ripped whole cloth from Banjo-Kazooie — the expansive (and easy to get lost in) levels, the literally thousands of objects you need to collect for 100% completion, the colourful worlds, character designs, and even the lack of a proper story.

The biggest issue I have is the controls, which have resulted in multiple rage quits during my play sessions. Nothing about how Yooka moves is graceful or pleasant; you often feel you’re fighting against the game just to go in a certain direction. Even the subtlest tap of the analog stick while standing still will make the character veer off in a direction you never intended them to — which is a real pain considering shooting projectiles is an important gameplay aspect. One of the special abilities, the Reptile Roll, is necessary for climbing steep surfaces, and yet is so imprecise a straight line is nearly impossible. The camera is awful, committing the cardinal sin of acting like an actual camera by getting in the way of objects while often failing to stay still and point in the desired direction.

All of these control issues were teething problems in late ’90s platformers that have been fixed over time. If you want to modernise an old genre, wouldn’t bringing controls up to modern standards be a large part of that? Did they just think, “Banjo controlled like that so this game should too”?

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this game’s issues. I could talk about how the level designs aren’t exactly intuitive and how completing all the tasks within them is an exercise is tedious bullshit. I could discuss how even finding the levels in the hub-world is a chore. I could bring up the cringe-worthy dialogue, none of which is even remotely funny, complete with constant fourth-wall breaks which are about as clever as a punch to the temple. There’s also how every character, rather than speaking normally, just spouts the most inane noises out of their pie holes which get very annoying, very quickly. Oh, and don’t forget the god-awful minigames, which manage to control worse than the base game.

And yet, I’ve only got 600 words. What a shame.

Nearly everything wrong with this game is a holdover from the era in which 3D “collectathons” were popular, and are the reason why the genre is pretty much dead. Not only did Playtonic fail to modernise the genre, they made its most glaring flaws even worse!

I feel somewhat sorry for those who backed this game financially. Maybe they can see the good in Yooka-Laylee’s gameplay, but one day they’ll have to take off the rose-tinted glasses and see it for what it is: outdated crap.

The music’s nice though. That never changed from Banjo-Kazooie.


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