In the beginning…
Announced at the end of April and followed by a Kickstarter campaign, Yooka-Laylee was revealed to the world and immediately peaked the interest of the nostalgic gamer. This is because the game was looking to recreate the wonder of the dying adventure/platformer genre of the past. More specifically, Yooka-Laylee was developed as a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie, and was being made by a team of Ex-Rare developers (now under the name ‘Playtonic Games’) who worked on Banjo Kazooie as well as games such as Donkey Kong Country and Conker’s Bad Fur Day.
Along with the launch of the Kickstarter campaign came an absolute rush of excitement and support among gamers who had been desperate for a new Banjo game for years. Safe to say that people wanted this game to be made, and trusted in the pedigree of those who were working on it, because within 40 minutes the game reached its £175,000 (GBP) funding goal. In the coming weeks the funding reached its height at £2,090,104 (GBP) becoming one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns to date and the fastest ever Kickstarter game to reach $1 million USD [source].
Yooka-Laylee is an action/adventure, platforming game set in a 3-dimensional world. Similarly to Banjo-Kazooie, it will feature a buddy duo protagonist in the form of Yooka the chameleon and Laylee the bat. The duo will see themselves moving through varying worlds, collecting all of the collectables, unlocking new skills and using those skills to fight off enemies and traverse the tricky terrain.
Speaking of skills, here is a list of all of the currently known abilities that our adorable pair can acquire (actual names for many abilities are unknown):
- Berries – These are a form of ammo that Yooka can eat to change his breath into water, fire, ice and possibly more!
- Chameleon Morph – Yooka can also change his skin in traditional chameleon style. Making himself electrically charged, invisible, metallic, sticky or on fire.
- Double Jump & Glide – Courtesy of Laylee’s wings, the pair can double jump and glide to cover larger distances and land on the ground uninjured.
- Flight – Flight will be an energy consuming ability that will allow the pair to reach greater heights.
- Ground Pound – The pair can smash down hard onto the ground to damage enemies or interact with props/puzzles in the world.
- Reptile Roll – This ability allows Yooka to curl into a ball and roll; gaining speed, damaging foes and going up steep inclines.
- Spring Jump – Yooka can spring off his tail allowing him to reach higher areas.
- Tail Spin – Spinning around with his tail outstretched, Yooka can damage foes who come close.
The game is also said to have 8 unique arcade games that can be played over local multiplayer with 2-4 players competing against or alongside each other. Yooka-Laylee also offer the ability to play in co-op with a partner.
“Taking control of a unique co-op character, a second player can assist Yooka and Laylee by stunning enemies and helping them tackle tricky challenges.” [source].
The game is an unapologetic throwback to Banjo-Kazooie and I can’t be more happy about it. From its visuals to its sound to its gameplay, Yooka-Laylee wears its influences heavily on its sleeves. With a cast of members working on the game that includes original artists, composers, designers and even voice actors from Banjo-Kazooie, it is no surprise that they seem to be more than capable of recreating the wonder of those previous games. I dare you to listen to the following musical work in progress without being swept back in time to when you first discovered the heroic bear and bird duo.
The game will also feature mechanics familiar to Banjo-Kazooie players such as transformations (remember Mumbo-Jumbo?), varying collectables, secrets and even a quiz at the end of the game!
Not too much has revealed about the worlds we will be exploring within the game. So far it has been announced that there will be 5 worlds in total, with a Jungle and a Glacial world being 2 of them. We also know that the game’s worlds will expand as you unlock more ‘Pagies’ meaning you can return to worlds and discover more as you unlock more. It has also been reported that each world will have 20+ Pagies to find as well as 200 quills which serve as an additional collectable.
In a Reddit AMA, the developers also confirmed that the game would have worlds “more strange in nature, like Clanker’s Cavern… and Witchyworld”
Outside of Yooka and Laylee there is also some additional information out there about the game’s supporting cast. Either helping the duo in their mission, or out to do them harm, the supporting cast will no doubt be memorable and charismatic additions to the team.
Some of who we currently know include:
- Capital B (bee, top right) – The game’s main antagonist who is trying to turn literature into profit.
- Dr. Quack (duck, top right) – Another of the game’s antagonists who is working for Capital B.
- Keith – (minion, bottom right) – Common enemy out to get Yooka and Laylee.
- Trowzer (snake, bottom left) – A supporting character ready to teach Yooka and Laylee new abilities.
- Rextro Sixtyfourus (t-rex, top left) – Supporting character who guards the 8 arcade games.
- Dr. Puss (human-octopus, top left) – Transforms the player into varying wacky forms.
- Kartos (minecart, top left) – Helps the player with minecart challenges.
In the end…
Yooka-Laylee looks seriously exciting as somebody who considers Banjo-Kazooie one of the most enjoyable gaming experiences of their childhood; and I would bet even gamers who didn’t experience Banjo in the past will find a lot to love in this new game. After being delayed the game is now set to release in March 2017 on PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, Xbox One and WiiU.
Some backers of the Kickstarter should also receive access to the ‘toybox’ which is a playable demo for the game some time soon. So keep your eyes peeled for followup Yooka-Laylee based details!