Is the 3D platformer dead? Someone should probably tell Nintendo.
Can’t have any more critically acclaimed Mario games doing the rounds. Hell, let Sony know too. Who knows how many more series-best Ratchet & Clank games it has in the works?
That’s the thing about nostalgia: Everything seems better in the past, even when it wasn’t.
It isn’t a good idea to put ’90s TV demagogue Chris Evans back on the air, for instance. Nor is it a good idea to buy all your music on the hiss-filled tape of a compact cassette.
The Nokia 3310 isn’t the greatest phone ever made, blue passports won’t usher in a grand era of pre-war British prosperity, and not all ’90s 3D platformers were all they were cracked up to be.
But then, if you were one of the thousands that helped Yooka-Layee ride a wave of nostalgia to a £2 million Kickstarter windfall back in 2015, you know what you let yourself in for: anthropomorphic animals, dry British humour, a saccharine soundtrack, thousands of collectibles…comic sans (or at least a close match). Kickstarter backers eager to dig into a game that ignores the past 20 years of games development—including its many wonderful platformers—in favour of rose-tinted thrills will find Yooka-Layee delivers and then some.
What backers might not expect (it certainly took me by surprise) are a few modern, if subtle, twists. Yooka-Layee is painfully true to its roots at times (developer PlayTonic is made up of ex-Rare employees that worked on the likes of Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong Country), with unfriendly level design and a wayward camera ranking high on the list of period particulars that should have had a makeover.
But Yooka-Layee also sprawls over its vast levels like a modern open-world game, luring you in with endless collectibles, challenges, and power-ups.
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