Yooka-Laylee (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Adam Riley 16.12.2017 7

Review for Yooka-Laylee on Nintendo Switch

Can you believe that Banjo-Kazooie released way back in 1998? Banjo-Tooie was 2000, and then the final Nintendo-related outings for Rare's series were bite-sized adventure, Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge in 2003 and Banjo Pilot in 2005, both on Game Boy Advance! Quite amazing, really; but fast-forward now to 2017 and there is finally a proper spiritual successor, in the form of Yooka-Laylee, formerly known as Project Ukulele during its record-breaking Kickstarter campaign. After impressing on other formats earlier in the year, Nintendo fans were left wanting after the Wii U version was canned. Playtonic Games' 3D adventure has now been retooled for Nintendo Switch, though, in what is supposedly the best edition so far. Is it, though?

What a game! It just has to be said from the start that anyone in any doubt as to whether or not Yooka-Laylee would be able to match the same standard set in the Banjo-Kazooie series should be able to set their minds at ease. The chameleon (Yooka) and bat (Laylee) have swooped in to seamlessly take over from where bird and bear left off, now traversing a place called Hivory Towers, on the hunt for Pagies, in the hopes of stopping a new big bad, Capital B (a worker bee) and his side-kick, Dr. Quack (a duck-in-a-jar… with wheels). They have a nefarious plan to transform all books into pure profit. Those dastardly villains! Who needs Gruntilda, right? Well, perhaps Capital B does not quite fill the witchy boots as well as some might have hoped, but the story is not the strong point, and never was meant to be, with the action instead relying on comical script-work (which is delivered in spades), and highly entertaining platform adventuring (dished out in… shovels…?).

Screenshot for Yooka-Laylee on Nintendo Switch

This is a 3D adventure, with heaps of collectibles included. Not quite to the extent of the overkill found in the Rare-developed Donkey Kong 64, but still quite an intense trip for those riding the nostalgia train and looking for something not as quick and easy as some more modern platform titles. Yooka and Laylee work so well together, each with separate moves, and combination ones that grow in intensity as the game progresses, with a Snake named Trowzer (oo-er) dishing out new techniques in return for a set number of Quills, which can be found dotted around each of the five main worlds visited, some only discoverable when each land has been expanded. Speaking of which, set numbers of Pagies need to be collected via the various trials throughout before a 'Great Tome' (read: world) can be opened, and then eventually expanded (once more Pagies have been accrued) to unlock new areas within. Certain moves are also required to actually access the entrance to each world, so getting caught somewhere you should not really be yet is not possible.

That is not to say there is not scope for free-rein, wide-scale exploration, because the worlds themselves are great in size - sometimes narrow and high, other times flat and wide, always mixing things up - and scenery can be clambered upon in order to reach seemingly inaccessible sections, more often than not unearthing a cheeky Quill hidden away, or one of the many quirky characters that can either be spoken to as part of a particular mission or collected and added to a running total of critters, or even stumbling upon tokens to open up retro mini-games, items to unlock special transformation features within a world, health expansion power-ups, and much more.

Screenshot for Yooka-Laylee on Nintendo Switch

Yooka-Laylee is all about taking a classic, keeping the feel - graphically and aurally (complete with unintelligible utterances from the cast, and a classic David Wise/Grant Kirkhope/Steve Burke score) - and the team at Playtonic has done the job absolutely perfectly. So much attention to detail has gone into this, to the point where there is even a reference to the classic Stop 'N' Swop idea that was meant to unlock special features in Banjo-Tooie after completing Banjo-Kazooie on Nintendo 64, both in terms of the actual expansion of worlds in general, and a certain ice key featured in the early stages that will have long-term fans giggling with retro-filled excitement.

Five worlds, all expandable, brimming with secrets…except the fourth world is actually a casino filled with mini-games, so that slightly brings down the fun factor, especially as it is expected in these sorts of games that the worlds will become more and more elaborate the deeper into the adventure you get. However, momentary disappointment aside whilst working through that - albeit still enjoyable - world, the actual key issue is not with the structure, but with the camera, especially the auto-positioning mode that gets so confused, sticking on pieces of scenery too often when trying to revert to behind the duo after being moved. Changing to a manual style, where once rotated and tilted as desired, it stays where you have placed it, is a far better option, but even then there are some close-quarters situations where it fails to provide the best viewing angle, and can lead to accidental deaths, or at least an annoying tumble from height after spending ages carefully climbing upwards. Loading times, as well, can be extraordinarily painful at times, even when loading up the small, bonus retro titles, and no matter how amusing the one-liner quips are that show on-screen, the wait can be excruciating.

Screenshot for Yooka-Laylee on Nintendo Switch

Overall, though, it is hard to fault Yooka-Laylee too much because its heart is so big, its bosses are so amusing, the challenges are so…challengey…and the script is filled with comedy throughout, with plenty of trademark British humour and great puns (one moment discussing trash, garbage and the British term of rubbish sticks in the mind). The range of abilities granted to the lead twosome also makes for some very intriguing platform antics, from the special jumping moves, rolling skills, and attacking arsenal, to even Kirby-esque absorbing tricks, temporary invisibility, and even a snazzy flying talent bestowed upon them in the latter stages, making collection of any final hidden bits and bobs far easier for the less initiated that are trying this out. For all of those people saying this relies on recycling ideas too much, just remember…recycling is good, and is saving the world. Kudos to Playtonic Games for being such world savers!

Screenshot for Yooka-Laylee on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Absolutely sublime platform action from the team behind Banjo-Kazooie, et al. Yooka-Laylee is everything fans have been waiting for, transporting gamers back to the 3D adventure heyday of the Nintendo 64, but bringing a wealth of updates with it to help it feel not just familiar, but also equally fresh. Between Super Mario Odyssey and this, Nintendo Switch owners are certainly being given some amazing treats in the first 12 months of the system's lifespan!

Developer

Playtonic Games

Publisher

Team17

Genre

3D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Sounds great but i'll prefer to wait for that physical version that they say might arrive. I'll probably wait for it to drop in price. It's unfortunate that the Switch version is 3 times the price of the XboxOne/PS4 versions as I reckon that it could have been a sensational hit. I get that the team have put extra work into the Switch version, but not by way of justifiable content but to fix glaring problems inherent in the other versions. 

Pricing aside I reckon that this will still sell best on Switch and rightly so, it's the real home of Yooka Laylee Smilie

I'm surprised the retail version isn't confirmed yet. Surely, given how well Switch games are selling, especially in the Christmas period, it'd be perfect.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

I thought the same about Sonic Mania as well to be honest...

In some aspects I keep feeling that it might be more complicated than meets the eye but then I see other independents and 3rd parties doing so, Axiom Verge, Lumo, Stardew Valley, Binding of Issac as well as FIFA, NBA, WWE, Lego and other seem to be able to release physical games with some of them being cheaper than the eShop, achieving price parity or the flip side of this.

I am guessing it's down on Playtonic to invest the money into pressing the carts but its bizzare that they wouldn't take advantage of the christmas period. 

I am not spending that much on a digital game, not now, not ever.
 

So surprised at all four reviews of this on C3 being so positive. I dropped it after not long, and I was a backer. Game was too floaty in the controls - way off the quality of what Banjo was. Far too many frustrating moments, and was difficult to even know where you were going in the hub world. The big patch signposted things a bit better and supposedly improved a lot of little niggles, but I ain't had any urge to properly finish it. I'll try to at some point, but man, it came across so disappointing to me, and really showed this isn't the same Rare quality from the N64 days. Granted, they may have had bigger budgets to work with and help from Nintendo on the side for quality assurance back then, but without that, this is the result.

Funny, because I went in really skeptical and came away really impressed. Other than the camera, which is better when switched to manual, there was so much that grabbed me, and even the 'cheap' mini-game filled fourth land was actually quite enjoyable once I get used to the idea it wasn't an open, expansive place like the rest.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Hmmmm my post disappeared....

From what I have played of Yooka on XB1 it just isn't what I was hoping for. I agree with Az in the floaty controls. I wasn't really ever the biggest fan of Banjo but really did enjoy Conker and DK64, but perhaps Nintendo foresaw the diminishing quality of the team before they sold them to Microsoft. Not that Conker nor PD were bad! 

I really will give this a chance on Switch, it just has to be uber cheap on the eshop or normal price physically.

The only time I've had issues with the controls is when doing the roll, as sometimes it's hard to keep them on-track properly.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

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