Platform: Windows, Steam, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch (planned)
Reviewed on: PS4
Players: Single player, Co Op, Multiplayer
Written by Whistler 3rd May 2017
Back in the day it must be said that the quality of games back when Rare was with Nintendo was the stuff of legend. You can’t deny they produced some of the most memorable and enjoyable titles from the SNES and N64 eras, which were major contributors to the success of both consoles. That golden age has long since passed though and you’d be forgiven for thinking the development studio had been disbanded once they had produced nothing but Kinect shovelware for four years in a row. So when Playtonic Games (composed of former Rareware devs) announced development of a spiritual successor to Rare’s beloved Banjo-
The strange duo composed of an Iguana (Yooka) and snarky bat (Laylee) are tasked with reclaiming all 145 ‘Pagies’ from a mysterious book that the evil Captial B and his Hivory Tower are searching for. Turns out he who wields the book (and it’s contents) can rewrite the world as they see fit and so begins the players collect-
While you require Pagies to gain access to these worlds, the player will also need to collect Quills to better equip themselves for traversing these large playgrounds. Quills serves as Yooka-
However the option to revisit previous worlds is purely for the need of missed Paigies and Quills; the five worlds and main hub world look great, but each struggles to fill their big playgrounds with meaningful content. They feel hollow and more often than not are plagued with vast empty spots making exploration feel arduous. There’s some decent platforming and the challenges themselves are enjoyable (if not often recycled repeatedly) but boy did I get sick of exploring thanks to the movement. Yooka’s running speed is just slow enough to get tiresome but the duo’s roll ability is so haphazardly clunky that it leads to more frustrations.
If Playtonic’s intention was to fully recreate the feel of an N64 platformer then they could have probably done without recreating some of the poor design choices and technical hiccups from that era. Controls and camera movement are key in any 3D environment and especially within platformers, here the camera is shockingly stubborn and slow to manually move.
Too often did I find myself struggling to focus on certain platforms as I slowly panned the camera but to then suddenly jump cut to another angle like I’m playing Resident Evil or practically hugging the characters when I maneuvered near any solid objects. Jumping is satisfying but there’s this floaty feeling I couldn’t quite shake off or adjust to in regards to movement which has characters moving a few steps before actually stopping. These hiccups would be forgiven back in 1998 but here they’re unacceptable, and don’t get me started on the awful aiming mechanic.
Alas much like Banjo Kazooie, combat is both lacklustre and utterly pointless. Rarely does engaging one of the few variations of minions benefit the player and you can outright avoid them altogether for the majority of your playthrough especially when the minions respawn regularly. Sure recreating what made 3D platforming so memorable is key, but Playtonics have done nothing to update the formula bar the visual coat of paint. This is the underlying issue that plagues Yooka-
Challenges are repeatedly recycled along with character interactions without any relevant context that only serve to drive home the repetitiveness. The quirky characters themselves feel like they’ve just been plopped in, much like the Quills and Paigies, none feeling like they have a place in these worlds outside of handing you challenges and rewards. Some of the more demanding challenges of dexterity were fun but they often felt more like self-
If you’re desperate to scratch that nostalgic itch and have no means to revist the platformers of yesteryears then by all means Yooka-
Recreates that Banjo-
Merely emulates oldschool platforming rather than expanding on them,
Poor camera controls,
Bland worlds and unmemorable gameplay.