Platform: Linux, Mac, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One
Developer: Playtonic Games
Publisher: Team 17
Release Date: 11 April 2017 (Switch pending)
The long awaited classic 3D platformer has finally arrived (on everything but Switch). Created by the team formerly of Rare, these are the guys that gave us Banjo-Kazooie (if the new name didn’t give away their roots).
While there has been a lot of build-up and hype for this game which had many, many backers, the reviewers appear split on how to feel about the classic feel in a modern setting. Some reviewers feel the style is dated, while others claim it gives exactly what it advertises: a nostalgic 3D platform experience.
I am personally holding out on buying my own copy until it comes out on Switch. For me, 3D platformers work best on Nintendo consoles (plus I want to play on portable). I’m a bit sad it didn’t receive more consistent reviews, but all the more reason to try it and review it on my own!
Ars Technica – Unscored
Yooka-Laylee stays true to its ’90s platformer roots, even to its detriment. But there are just enough modern touches and excellent platforming to make it more than just another nostalgia play.
Destructoid – 8 / 10
Banjo Threeie is probably never going to happen, but after playing Yooka-Laylee I’m fine with that for the first time in 17 years. Playtonic’s first foray is rough around the edges, but the center is so full of heart that it’ll melt away the more you play it. How much of that roughness you can put up with entirely depends on your history and mental fortitude for mascot platformers. For some of you that threshold is pretty low, but for me, it’s as high as Laylee can fly.
Eurogamer – Unscored
Playtonic’s tribute to Banjo is a gentle, irreverent platformer let down by spotty handling and a slight shortage of genius.
Forbes – 8 / 10
I imagine there will be people who won’t find this kind of flavor appealing, who might consider the game to be dated and maybe even outright pandering, but I’m not one of them.
Game Informer – 8 / 10
Though camera problems and outdated level design are present at times, the moments of exhilaration, discovery, and satisfaction far outweigh those pitfalls. It feels like ages since I’ve played something like Yooka-Laylee. This is a game that was built for those who look back with fondness on the classics that spawned it, and in that regard, it delivers completely.
GameSpot – 6 / 10
Yooka-Laylee delivers on nostalgia but is held back by outdated gameplay and underwhelming levels.
Guardian – 4 / 5 stars
It may look like a game for children but this primary coloured, Kickstarter-funded platformer is catnip for 30-somethings who came of age with Banjo-Kazooie.
IGN – 7 / 10
Yooka-Laylee contains all the pieces needed for a fun, enjoyable throwback to the 3D collectathons of the 64-bit era. The characters are charming and funny, your set of abilities is vast and entertaining, and four out of five of the worlds are fun playgrounds to explore. While it lacks the heart and polish of some of its incredible predecessors, it’s a good reminder that this genre, once thought to be dead, still has some life left in it.
Kotaku – Unscored
Tearing away all of the bloat, Yooka-Laylee is a challenging and satisfying platformer. When it focuses on the basics, it succeeds with considerable flair. Yet, these moments arrive in short bursts that are padded out by confusing and hostile design. They point towards a far more enjoyable game than the complete package. The parts are significantly greater than the whole. There’s fun to be had but it doesn’t come easily. And if I never have to collect another shiny again, it’ll be far too soon.
PC Gamer – 68 / 100
A decent revival of the N64-era 3D platformer, but with all the flaws that carries, as well as some new ones of its own.
Polygon – 5.5 / 10
Yooka-Laylee looks the part of an updated platformer, but some of its mechanics should have stayed back in the era it came from. There was a reason we haven’t seen more games like Banjo Kazooie on modern platforms, and it wasn’t just because Rare as we knew it was gone; its ideas were very specific to a gameplay era that we’ve evolved past. Fourth-wall breaking dialog, shiny characters and lush graphics can’t save Yooka-Laylee from the dated framework that it’s built on.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun – Unscored
I’m far less sure of how someone without that attachment to the originals will perceive the mix of flaws and strengths. For me the chance to revisit one of my first game infatuations did reduce the annoyances, or at least they became part and parcel of going back – you take the irritants with the joys because without it it wouldn’t be the same.
The Escapist – 4.5 / 5 stars
This time around, Kickstarter actually did come to the rescue, delivering a game that is very much worthy of being called the spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie. Yooka-Laylee is a game for fans who miss the N64 days of running around a huge, open map, collecting a bunch of stuff and having a bit of a laugh. It’s cute, it’s funny, and a few minor technical issues aside, it’s exactly what it promised to deliver.
A particularly painful review…
The Jimquisition – 2 / 10
Yooka-Laylee is a game out of time, clinging so desperately to past glories it doesn’t seem to understand the Earth kept spinning after the N64 was discontinued. It’s everything wrong about the formative years of 3D platforming and it somehow retained none of what made the genre’s highlights endure…Yooka-Laylee is, in a word, rubbish.
Overall, there is no consistent scoring, but possibly a consistent thread that Yooka-Laylee has lived up to its claim that it emulates, for better or worse, the N64-era platformer.
Have you played it yet? What are your thoughts? Does it stick to its roots, perhaps to its own detriment? Comment below!