Since Microsoft has been deaf and blind for years for the outcry for a new Banjo-Kazooie Playtonic’s (a developer with former-Rare devs) Yooka-Laylee has been a game that softens the miss for the iconic duo. Despite some mixed reviews, I scored it 61% on LifeisXbox the franchise has a strong and passionate fanbase. In June 2019 Playtonic and publisher Team 17 announced a spin-off, Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, biggest change is the switch from 3D to 2D. Three months later we can already play it, is this brand-new nostalgic trip in platformers lane worth it? Find out in our review!
- Level tunes: Yooka-Laylee and the impossible Lair has an impressive and influential soundtrack that feels fresh and sentimental. An invasion of catchy earworms that stay in a person’s mind for days and days.
- Clever old school level design: Is the gameplay plagued by the controls? Yes… but that doesn’t mean that the level design isn’t excellent. Purely for the genre Playtonic make some wickedly fun moments for people who remember the older platformers or for people who never played Mario or Banjo before. It doesn’t reinvent the platform genre but uses all the tricks and mechanics perfectly.
- Visually outstanding! Colorful and diverse thema levels that never become repetitive, the switch from the 3D world hub and 2D levels give it a pretty unique touch too. While they don’t take much risk with the thematic styles they all look as if they were picked from a beautiful Disney movie. So it looks and feels better than the previous Yooka-Laylee game, more significant the performance is a lot better too!
- Barbaric last-level: This has to be one of the biggest difficulty spikes in gaming history and developer Playtonic knows it. First of all, I really love this unique concept. Each level that you finish rewards you with a bee, some sort of health potion as this grants you one extra hit. 48 bees can be collected (all of them have a name and look different, nice touch Playtonic) and oh boy.. you really, really need them to be able to finish the insanely difficult “impossible lair” In this lair you’ll face boss fights and challenging platforming sections, without checkpoints! It is an exhausting and impossible task for most Yooka Laylee players. While it is hugely rewarding when you finish the impossible lair I do have an issue with the fact that most players won’t be able to finish it. (looking at the target audience) Hence the reason why I placed this in Mixed Feelings.
- Losing Laylee: When an enemy or a level hazard touches your playable chameleon Yooka, bat Laylee takes the hit and frantically flies away from you. Touch him again when he is in this crazy state or ring a bell and Laylee returns. This mechanic works in theory but causes some really frustrating moments in practice. He flies to unreachable places, goes through walls or decides to stay right in the middle of a deadly saw.
- Loose controls: My main issue with the previous Yooka-Laylee was controlling your characters and sadly that hasn’t been improved, it is even worse in this 2D adaptation. It seems that most animations have been copy-pasted in this spin-off making jumps or avoiding dangers difficult. Controls are simply too loose and don’t give enough precision, especially for beating the last level.
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a fairly big improvement over the previous Yooka-Laylee, it is a shame that Playtonic didn’t make the controls more accurate as this hurts the gameplay. Luckily the two friends have enough charm to make up for some of that wonkiness, making it a perfect possible purchase for those that like nostalgic platformers.
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