Impressions of Yooka-Laylee 🦎🦇🎮
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and the Nintendo Switch have ruined video games for me.
Going from BOTW to Yooka-Laylee on PS4 felt terrible and clumsy and clunky. I was getting frustrated that I couldn’t just simply scale a wall to continue my adventure. I blindly jumped off of high places only to plummet to my death. This is how good and addicting BOTW is. It’s ruined what should have been my favorite game. I know that BOTW and Y-L are games with very different genres, budgets, and studios and that I shouldn’t be making these direct comparisons, BUT I will now always resent being limited by a game’s world.
But seriously, right off the bat (heh, nailed it), I have some major gripes with Y-L. There are some serious issues with the camera. It’s constantly readjusting the view making platforming (a pretty important aspect of a platformer) difficult. I’ve fallen to my death or back to the start of a long climb several times. The camera also gets stuck on assets and doesn’t move in and out as far as it could, limiting your ability to see around you. There is a Y-L character point-of-view camera, but it’s meh.
The controls are really floaty and that makes it hard to jump and attack where you want, but it also leaves something to be desired. There’s also no way to save at-will so you have to hope the game has done so for you when you want to put it down. This seems like a big misstep and a problem I also had playing B-K on the N64. I use to leave my N64 on until I could get back to it because I didn’t want to lose my progress.
The levels are a bit overwhelming to navigate at first and I’m having trouble remembering where to find an NPC I was supposed to do something for in order to get my Pagie (Yooka-Laylee’s version of Jiggie). B-K didn’t have a map for their world’s either, but that seems like something that could’ve been added to Y-L. This is a conversation I’ve seen about Y-L. B-K was a great game for its time and for me, with the help of nostalgia, holds up pretty well when played today. However, it has plenty of pitfalls and a lack of QoL (Quality of Life). Y-L should have taken these snares and modernized/improved them. There is nothing appealing in this day and age about an inability to put a game down whenever you want.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten all of that off my chest, I’ve gotten about 10 hours of gameplay. I haven’t made a great deal of progress, but I’m finally starting to really get into it. I’m becoming used to the controls and the feel of it (perhaps I was just un-learning muscle memory from BOTW). I’m allowing myself to enjoy exploring the levels and take in dialogue and not be so impatient. Things that were baffling are making some sense and patterns are starting to emerge. Y-L takes a page from Banjo-Tooie in that you have to return to levels after learning new moves to 100% a level. I image this will add some play time to the game as you backtrack. I’ve read there are only five levels, which can be expanded further after the initial exploration using Pagies, so play time extension will likely be welcomed.
In true I-wish-this-was-on-the-Switch-fashion, I broke out my PS Vita to try playing via Remote Play. Remote Play allows you to mirror the screen to your PS Vita and play it like a handheld. However, it will not let you remap controls and it maps L2 and R2 to touch pads on the backside of the Vita. L2 and R2 are tied to important moves in the game that are needed constantly. Having to try to readjust your hands to hit the touch pads in just the right spots was impossible. This made the game unplayable. It’s unfortunate because it actually looks pretty good on the Vita. It’s also unfortunate that PlayStation/Sony has basically decided to pretend the Vita isn’t a thing, but that’s a whole separate topic.
I’ve opened three worlds and entered two. Now that I've gotten past the chunky beginnings, I'm starting to look forward to making headway. The characters, bad puns, dialogue that breaks the 4th wall, and the music are perfect reproductions of what made B-K and other Rare offerings so fun. It helps that the teams were made up of previous Rare devs and they brought back composers. Those shameless nostalgia plays definitely take the sting out of some of the less than perfect aspects of the game.
I do wish I had simply waited for this to come to the Switch. Not only do I think it’s a better console (personal Nintendo bias), but hopefully they’ll take some time to fix some of the hang-ups that make it hard to get into the game. I am also hopeful that this might re-spark the mascot 3D platformer genre. Sure, Mario has been getting it right since N64, but give me more like Banjo-Kazooie, Conker, Spyro, Ratchet & Clank, Jax and Daxter. Give me totally lovable characters, fun gameplay, interesting levels, challenging puzzles. I know Super Mario Odyssey, due out in Holiday 2017, will probably be stupid satisfying, BUT I WANT… no… NEED MORE. I want to see them modernized with great QoL and graphics and mechanics. Gimme dat. Gimme dat.