A Hated in the Nation review. Does this crowd funded game really belong alongside Mighty No. 9 as yet another Kickstarter scam? The answer will surprise you! (But not really.)
Played on: Xbox One
Also on: PS4, PC, Switch
Developer: Playtonic Games
Publisher: Team 17
Yooka-Failee or Yooka-Winlee? I’m not sorry…
Date posted: January 1, 2018
First off, Happy New Year! Let’s try to remain positive the rest of the year! I’ll start by reviewing a game everyone liked- I know, because I liked it! Now let me come out from under my rock to see how much everyone loved Yooka-Lay- OH GOOD LORD!
Alright, so it’s not surprising- yet another game funded by Kickstarter that divided a lot of people. Remind you of anything? A certain Megaman successor perhaps? You know that game that was “better then nothing?”. That’s right- once Yooka-Laylee came out to middling reviews, people were quick on the draw to lump it with one of the most infamous kickstarter “disasters” in recent memory, Mighty No. 9 (REVIEW IN PROGRESS). But does it really deserve it? Let’s dig into Yooka-Laylee, Volume 1 and see if Linkara will sue me for stealing his opening catchphrase, oh, and to see if Yooka-Laylee is as bad as everyone thought it was.
For those out of the loop, Yooka-Laylee was a kickstarter project by ex-Rareware employees to create a “true” sequel to the Banjo-Kazooie games on the N64- a pair of great 3D platformers that gave that pesky plumber a run for his money- something no one really saw coming. After the disappointing Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, fans were clamoring for another fun 3D platformer in the same vein as the originals. Needless to say, the kickstarter was a success, and met it’s goal in no time at all.
So what went wrong? Well not much, but I’ll explain why this game gets the reception it does.
I’m happy to report that this is a 3D platformer! What? Don’t look so surprised! Kidding aside, Yooka-Laylee has the heart of the old rareware N64 titles of old- hell, they even got Kirkthope back to the music! It really does feel like a lost Rareware title- it’s atmosphere almost screams late 90’s! Patches of neon green and orange remind me of watching Rugrats on Nickelodeon and, of course, popping in Banjo-Kazooie for yet another play-though.
The controls are good- for the most part. You can jump and attack and have your standard N64 3d platformer moveset- ground pound, glide, double-jump, and use your bat friend to fly, among other things. Yet again, the game plays like the platformers of old! Now, something that is brought up in every review for this game, including the positive ones, is the camera- which I had no problem with. When the game first launched, it had some problems apparently, but I feel like they fixed it up it seemed.
Of course, you have all sorts of collectibles- but not as much as Donkey Kong 64 (another HITN review that I’ll do eventually). You have feathers that serve as currency, and of course, getting all of them in one level gets you a pagie- this game’s answer to jiggies. Collecting these allows you to access- and even expand- the five worlds you’ll explore as you try to reclaim your book. They are gotten in various ways, from platform challenges, races, and minigames- there is actually a lot of variety here!
I actually don’t think the levels are too bad- many people didn’t like the expansion mechanic, and quite honestly, I didn’t like it that much either (see CONS section). However, each of levels were intriguing to me- even though there’s only 5 of them. They each have their own atmosphere and challenges to tackle. I even liked the casino world- a world every one else and their dog seemed to hate! I actually thought they were well designed- even though many of them have a lot of empty space.
Now this is where the game gets interesting. It seems that the biggest complaint I hear about Yooka-Laylee is that it’s TOO much like the platformers of old- the estranged camera angles, the archaic mini-games, the frustrating platforming sections- it really does feel like a game from 1998. That could be good- or bad, depending on what you expected….
Before I go on why half the people who played the game hated Yooka-Laylee, I’ll tell you what I disliked about it.
First off, I f@#king HATED the Rextro’s arcade games- they are were terrible, and played horribly. This was my number one gripe with this game- they honestly felt rushed, almost like they were made by someone in their spare time in Unity. They were a choir to play though, and I do NOT look forward to play them on subsequent playthroughs- hell, I may skip them all together- and if your not aiming for 100% (like I did), then you should avoid them too!
I also didn’t like some of the minecart sections- their hard enough, but you also have to collect a lot of crap on them to get a pagie, and its infuriating. If a sequel is made, hopefully Playtonic will either scrap or fix this and Rextro’s awful arcade games.
While I liked the levels themselves, this game could of used more variety. Like I said, there’s only 5 worlds and one hub to explore- and that’s it. Each world can be expanded, but it really feels like more of the same. I think that they should have scrapped the expansion element completely, and just focused on making 8-10 medium sized levels- the variety would of helped tremendously!
Finally, finding the last few quills in a level was quite painful. Hell, I had to look up a walkthough to find some of them, as the devs put them in the worst places possible. Sure, theres a tonic that lets you know when your near a quill, but it hardly helps when said quill is such a stupid place!
Now that my personal grievances are out of the way, lets talk about what other people hated about Yooka-Laylee.
Like I said, apparently there used to be major issues with the camera- but now, it has been fixed somewhat. Again, I didn’t seem to have a problem, but then again, I have been playing these kinds of games half my life, so maybe I’m just used to horrible cameras.
Not a lot of people liked the speech- which again, was fixed. It’s now less annoying, as you can shorten the speech to a few lines, and not every. single.word. I have to admit- those voices could get annoying- looking back at BK, I think that it may have never been a good idea…
Finally, I think people expected too much. You see, this game was hyped up as the “real” Banjo-Threeie- the fan name for the fabled Banjo-Kazooie sequel that never came to be. Instead we got a game more in Banjo-Tooie- a game that is not as well received as the original, sadly. You see, what the original Banjo-Kazooie excelled at was its brilliant simplicity- it didn’t need huge open world levels or a million collectibles to be great- it just needed to be a fun platformer with it’s own sense of humor and identity. Does Yooka-Laylee have that? Well, sort of- I have to agree with Jim Sterling a bit- the passion and heart was there, but the talent fell though.
I didn’t hate Yooka-Laylee. In fact, I was the few people who liked it, it seems. This game is on all sorts of “Disappointing” and even “Worst Games of the Year” lists, and I really don’t agree- but I can see where other people are coming from, as this game is not for everyone. Only hardcore BK fans like me seem to see what Playtonic was trying to do with Yooka-Laylee. I mean, to be fair, it came out in the same year that gave us Super Mario Odyssey and A Hat in Time, and, if I’m quite honest here, they both blow YL out of the water- but that does not mean that YL is a bad game.
So no- Yooka-Laylee does not deserve to be placed with Mighty No.9 as a piece kickstarter crap, but more of a lesson on broadening your horizons when it comes to game design- what worked in 1998 might not work that great now, you know? While I get why people don’t like YL, I don’t really think its gets all the hate it gets. I mean, at least half of the people who played it liked it- and that’s good enough for me. If you played the hell out of BK, Super Mario Odyessey, and A Hat in Time, then I think Yooka-Laylee is at least worth a look.
Also, JonTron did nothing wrong. ECH!
Agree? Disagree? Good! Leave a comment about how terrible my taste is in the comments below!