After quite a delay, Yooka Laylee has made its way to the Nintendo Switch. Yooka Laylee has not gotten the best feedback on other platforms, but the Switch offers something these platforms can’t, portability. So, is Yooka Laylee worth grabbing to play on the go?
Just as a disclaimer, I had not played Yooka Laylee prior to playing it on the Switch, so I was quite excited to give it a go. Yooka Laylee is meant to be a retro title with a Banjo-Kazooie vibe to it. Banjo-Kazooie was a N64 title, so nostalgia was definitely a focus. The game’s main characters are a lizard named Yooka, and a witty bat named Laylee. You’ll utilize both character’s abilities to traverse several worlds in search of pages from a book that was stolen from you. These pages are appropriately called “pagies” in case you get confused. For a nostalgic 3D platformer title, this set up works fine and the characters all have a charm to them.
One of my biggest gripes about Yooka Laylee is the mediocre design in a couple of the worlds. There are only 5 worlds in total so it is very important that these worlds are full of excitement, but some are not. I didn’t mind the first few worlds, but at times, I almost felt like I was forcing myself to go through each area. My playthrough slowly became less of an enjoyment when I reached the 4th world, which is a casino themed area. When I first reached this world I was so excited at the idea of traveling through a casino, but that quickly changed. This area should have easily been the best of the worlds, but it was nothing but dull and you need luck on your side to get past some of the tasks. I just felt like this world was rushed and it was disappointing.
Don’t get me wrong though, there are several fun challenges spread across most of the worlds. Some of these challenges were quite difficult, which is expected, and others were just a blast. Most of these challenges require you to use moves that you can purchase from your odd snake friend, Trowzer. There are quite a lot of moves to unlock and I was pleased with the variety. All of the moves were useful and easy to execute. The only downfall with the character controls… the camera. I’m sure everyone has heard there are issues with the camera being just clunky at times. There is an option in the settings to turn off the auto-camera, which would normally follow your movements, but even the manual camera gets stuck and is clunky in some areas. The camera usually didn’t bother me, but it did occasionally, so it’s something to keep in mind.
The whole game literally revolves around collecting these “pagies” from your book that was stolen from you. In most games, this would seem redundant, but Yooka Laylee makes these pagies quite usable. Pagies are used to unlock new worlds, buy upgrades, and even upgrade your worlds to unlock new areas. Upgrading the worlds does add quite a few new challenges and it is well worth doing. Upgrading my worlds kept me entertained for a bit longer, so it was a great surprise.
The music in Yooka Laylee is great and it fits the theme of the game very well. I really expected nothing less from Grant Kirkhope. There aren’t any major technical issues in this version of Yooka Laylee which is a plus. The only one which I pointed out already, is the clunky camera.
Overall, Yooka Laylee is far from a terrible game, but it is not for everyone. If you have no interest in retro 3D games then you probably will not find this title appealing. Yooka Laylee does fall short in many areas, particularly with the camera, and how much of a chore some of the worlds are. If you can see past these issues, Yooka Laylee is worth picking up. There may be other 3D platformers with better execution, but this title brings back a retro vibe that is very welcomed. I would recommend this title to any diehard fans of 3D platformers, especially if you loved Banjo-Kazooie.