The highly anticipated Yooka-Laylee finally released a week ago, and reactions have been. . . . . . mixed. Many argue the game doesn’t live up the hype (little games do due to most of them being overly anticipated). This has people split arguing for or against the game. I went in with what was probably a mindset most people didn’t think of, and after a couple of days of playing, I’ve come to a conclusion. Before reaching that conclusion however, I thought I’d share my expectations that I set, so that when or if you play the game, you can get a good understanding of the expectations you should have before playing this. Let’s get to it then!
One of the first things to take into account when setting expectations for Yooka-Laylee is to take a look at the budget of the game. If you’re going into the game expecting it to be as big and sprawling as Banjo-Kazooie or Tooie, then you might want to re-adjust those expectations because the game is relatively small. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing since the game is still plenty of fun with some pretty big worlds and clever secrets.
Yooka’s budget is relatively small. Even with the Kickstarter funds and support from Publisher Team 17 to help out with stuff like a physical release and advertising, it still doesn’t compare to Banjo. Banjo’s budget is immeasurably higher having to take inflation, the number of times the game changed, and Nintendo’s funding of the game into account. There’s also the fact that Yooka was made in Unity, which is a fairly simple 3D engine, so it’s not going to have the exact look or feel as its predecessor. As a result, it’d be expected that the game wouldn’t have nearly as many worlds and even as many collectibles as Banjo would.
The next expectation to set might cause a bit of a stir at first, but just follow me on this, This is not Banjo Threeie. Yes, Yooka-Laylee was pitched on the premise of being a Banjo Successor, but not the fabled Banjo Threeie that people love to fantasize about. I can guarantee you that nothing that is present in Yooka was planned at all for another Banjo game. Why am I so sure? Well, whether or not people want to accept it, Banjo Threeie already exists. It’s called Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, and the history of the title is pretty clear. Rare even made a nice little video a year or 2 ago finally shedding some light on the title. Playtonic spent 2 years developing this title creating a brand new world, characters, and gameplay and I’m sure the last thing they want people to think is that all of that could easily be switched out for a more known I.P.
The last expectation I want to set is that this isn’t the exact same team as the original Banjo crew. Don’t take this as a negative, the people associated with Playtonic have done some fantastic work and have anywhere from 1 to 3 decades worth of making games for the company, but not all of them come from Banjo or Conker. One of the biggest missing pieces for Playtonic is Gregg Mayles, The creator and main level designer for the Banjo series. Yes you have your Chris Sutherlands and Steve Mayles who are very well known for being on the Banjo team, but then you also have very talented people like Justin Cook and Dean Wilson.
These guys are very talented artists who have worked on some of the most interesting Rare titles like Kameo: Elements of Power and Viva Pinata, but often get overlooked due to the internet’s over reaction of the Microsoft buyout and labeling it as “The bad era.” So while this isn’t 100% person by person the original team that crafted Banjo, that’s again not to be taken as a bad thing since the people still there are extremely talented, some even coming from other companies like Rocksteady (Batman Arkham Series) and Supermassive Games (Until Dawn and the LittleBig Planet Series). Below is a beautiful piece of Yooka artwork by Dean Wilson who designed one of the 5 worlds in the game, Glitterglaze Glacier.
At the end of the day, I’m writing this not to discourage or encourage you to play or not play Yooka-Laylee, but what kind of expectations you should have set going into the game. You can read as many good or bad reviews of the game as you like, but knowing what mindset you have entering the game can make a huge difference. I hope this article has been helpful for you,and most of all, like the games you’re going to like.