“Yooka-Laylee” is what every mascot platformer in the nineties wanted to be. It isn’t perfect, but it’s colorful, creative and has the addictive quality that “collectathons” live and die on. While the controls are sometimes wonky and some parts of the game feel unpolished, it does the job it was made to do.
Made by the same team that did “Banjo Kazooie,” “Banjo-Tooie” and “Conker’s Bad Fur Day,” “Yooka-Laylee” is worthy of the title “spiritual successor.” It’s the same gameplay and style that those older games were known for, the point being: grab everything in sight. In this aspect, the game thrives on delivering on the feeling of progression, collecting and exploring so you can get the next item that’s just out of reach.
Even with the game’s wonderful aesthetic and gameplay, it does fall short in a few noticeable areas. The controls can go from smooth and precise to frustratingly floaty and unresponsive at a moment’s notice. This leads to the platforming puzzles ranging from well-thought-out challenges to annoying and trying.
Another noticeable issue is that the game feels too ambitious. “Yooka-Laylee” was funded on Kickstarter, which is fine for smaller titles, but this one ends up feeling like they tried to do too much. The developers tired to do everything that their previous games did but bigger and better, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
The core gameplay, music and characters are all very well-done, but then they add more. Transformations, retro-style mini games, large levels that can be made even larger and trivia sections all give the feeling that this team tried to bite off more than they could chew. And while none of these aspects are “bad” per se, they feel unnecessary and sometimes not thought-out completely, as if they are ideas in the beta phase instead of the final product.
All in all, “Yooka-Laylee” is a good game. The main collecting gameplay is very well-done, the characters are creative and funny and the music helps put the player in the perfect mood. While the previously listed elements are flawed, they aren’t broken. If you’re looking for a fun platformer to scratch that collectathon itch, then this game is perfect. Just know that there will be some bumps along the way.