Yooka-Laylee became one of the most successful projects to be funded on Kickstarter, which wasn’t surprising given the talented individuals that made up its development team. It’s been a long wait for Nintendo fans, but Yooka-Laylee has finally been released on the Nintendo Switch. But was it worth the wait to play it months after it had been released on other platforms?
As already mentioned, Yooka-Laylee was developed by a talented team, but most importantly is that some of its members also worked on the Banjo-Kazooie titles for Rare. In fact, Yooka-Laylee is more or less a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie or even as close to a sequel as it could be achieved without Microsoft’s lawyers getting on the phone to developer Playtonic Games.
The formula might be a simple one, but it’s still just as captivating on the Nintendo Switch as it is on other consoles – even for someone who has previously played the game on the Xbox One. The idea is to collect enough items called Pagies from an initial world to then gain access to more worlds. Each of these worlds has its own unique challenges to complete to earn Pagies and Pagies can even be used to expand them. Also, collecting feathers will make it possible to buy more moves and in turn being able to find even more collectibles. If anything, Yooka-Laylee is a collector’s dream come true in the form of a game.
Both of the characters (Yooka and Laylee) have access to an impressive set of moves (once purchased) and some of these even make it easier to navigate the overworld and the worlds contained within it. What’s even better is that despite the huge amount of moves players will eventually get, it is still easy to make use of them at any point. It’s truly remarkable to see a game of this scope to run so smoothly on both a TV screen or when making use of the Switch’s handheld mode. In fact, there wasn’t a single issue performance wise after playing it in handheld mode for a couple of hours. The game also looks more or less the same as when playing it on other hardware.
One of the highlights of Yooka-Laylee is its efficient use of sharp British humour. The inclusion of a dodgy business snake who sells moves or even the way the title makes sarcastic jokes at its own expense means players won’t be lacking for reasons to get to the end of the story. The story sees the characters attempting to gather all the Pagies before an evil mastermind does so and gains the power to rule over the world.
Each of the worlds is varied enough to warrant exploring it for hours in order to gain enough Pagies to unlock more worlds to explore. What is fascinating though, is how each world is cleverly designed to make it seem like players are free to discover new challenges and other ways to gain more collectibles at their own pace. The addition of being able to buy moves, rather than just earning them, also means that some players might go about gaining each ability at a different time and so playing the game in a slightly different manner. Once each world is expanded, it also usually shows just how big each of these areas is, such as a huge tower like area in one world that players can climb before being able to see the whole world from the top.
Albeit minor, there are also some clever enhancements in this version of the title that will make it easier to do such tasks as finding new worlds to go to. It feels like PlayTonic Games took in the feedback from the game’s original release and went about including some fixes in this release that makes it easier to focus on the fun aspects of it, such as exploring the huge worlds. It certainly helps that all of this is happening whilst catchy upbeat music is playing in the background.
It also benefits from the Switch’s unique capability of being able to play the mini-games that become unlocked with progress easily on the go. It feels more natural to be able to play this kind of mini-games included when not being limited to doing so in the room where the console is plugged in. Although it would have been nice to see more mini-games added or even ones that made use of some of the unique features of the Switch, such as the touch screen or the way that the Joy-Con controllers can be used.
Yooka-Laylee was already an impressive title when it was originally released and although it took months, it’s still worth playing for those who have been patiently waiting for its arrival on the Nintendo Switch.