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Yooka-Laylee

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This week, Zero Punctuation reviews Yooka-Laylee.

Transcript Edit

Twenty years ago, before real life started to feel like a late-night sitcom that got all renewed past the point any of the writers gave a shit about it and is now seeing what it can get away with, there existed the "mascot platformer", a staple of that weird transitionary period between 2D and 3D graphics when we hadn't quite internalized the fact that platforming is enhanced by 3D gameplay the same way bobbing for apples is enhanced when you've got a bear trap stuck on your head, and when most protagonists were big-headed cartoon mascots because the attempts at realistic characters looked like used toilet paper origami. A more innocent time; certainly a more colorful time before graphics improved and every protagonist became a short, brown-haired, white, middle-class dude, which would only serve as a mascot for the Kansas City Dullards. But this era saw such wonderfully varied titles as Banjo-Kazooie, by Rare; Donkey Kong 64, also by Rare; Conker's Bad Fur Day, by Industrial Light and Magic (just kidding; it was Rare again).

You know what? Let's forget about examples; this isn't fucking TV Tropes. Let's focus on Banjo-Kazooie, because this new game I've been playing, Yooka-Laylee, is to Banjo-Kazooie what Mighty No. 9 was to Mega Man: proof (if proof be needed) that there is no sector of nostalgia so obsolete, nor so loose in its interpretation of the spirit of copyright law, that you can't get a couple thousand people on Kickstarter to pony up for a thinly-veiled copy-paste with the names changed. Banjo-Kazooie was a 3D platformer in which you gather collectibles around a pseudo-open world to unlock more areas and skills, not to be confused with Conker's Bad Fur Day, which was a 3D platformer in which you gather collectibles around a pseudo-open world to unlock more areas and skills, and also, there's tits in it. Yooka-Laylee is consequently that very thing as well, minus tits. Like Banjo-Kazooie, you play as an animal sitting on top of another animal, or perhaps you're playing the animal the other animal is sitting on top of. Talk about an identity crisis! You're collecting golden prizes that have been spread throughout the land by a villain for some unimaginably-contrived reason, and every single character talks by making one specific noise in a variety of different pitches like they've got synthesizers lodged in their throats.

And also like Banjo-Kazooie, the game devotes about half a pinky finger's effort to holding up the fourth wall before giving up and repurposing it as a coffee table. "I mean, yes, on the surface, the baddies have stolen our magic book and we have to find all the missing pages, but the real reason for doing so is because it is a video game, and we aren't shy about mentioning it at every opportunity." I always find something obnoxious about this "too cool for school" kind of dealio; it's like walking into a Santa's Grotto to find a slouched and disinterested Santa, beard askew, who jerks a thumb towards the bag of toys on the floor before returning his attention to his copy of the Racing Post. Hey, more power to you for your irreverent subversion of my expectations, but you still charged me ten bucks for this shit! It's like farting in a lift and acting like everyone else is the weirdo for noticing. No, actually; it's like farting in your own face and sarcastically rolling your eyes at the smell.

But hey, the list of backers in the end credits takes about half an hour to get past the Aarons, so clearly, this is what the people want. In contrast to Banjo-Kazooie being a bear and a bird, Yooka and Laylee are a lizard and a bat, nominally different, but functionally the same: one thing that flies, one thing that would annoy your sister if you left it in her bed. You've got your hub world and you unlock new themed worlds with a set number of Jiggies, I mean, Pagies, I mean, mundane objects turned into exciting collectibles by means of sticking "-ie" on the end of the name. Then, if you pay the game even more Stapleries, it'll unlock each world a second time, adding more content and collectibles with the high-minded entrepreneurial spirit of a heroin dealer.

One might reasonably wonder why they don't just unlock all of the world in one go; I suppose it could be to pace things out a bit and give you a reason to come back to previous worlds to collect more Crystal-Meth-ies, but there's already a reason to do that: some of them are out of reach until you've unlocked certain abilities. You can only get the Allen-Wrench-ie that's sitting on top of a giant, erect cock, for example, once you acquire the Blue Balls attack and it gets you into World 4. But then again, another of the things Yooka-Laylee doesn't give much of a shit about is sequence-breaking, and if you don't have the Blue Balls attack, you can still do a prolapse pogo off a bit of brickwork that's not technically a platform, but they didn't put an invisible wall around it, so go nuts, and get on top of the giant, erect cock that way.

I applaud that because it makes things a bit more organic, but later in the game, once you unlock the ability to fly, we discover there weren't any invisible walls on the ground because they all got arranged into a ceiling instead. Sometimes, if you see a tall thing, you should fly to the top of it to find the hidden distributor cap from a Ford-Anglia-ie. At other times, we were supposed to intuit that the tall thing was just window dressing and the invisible ceiling will smash you back down into the dirt where you belong. Getting the flying power is also the point that the bottom drops out of most of the challenge with an audible "thunk!", since half the activities are platforming-related, but if I were to put my finger on the major defining problem with Yooka-Laylee - the pulsating orange hernia that dangles most prominently from betwixt its legs, as it were - it would be inconsistency. (And incidentally, it's a bad idea to put your finger on people's hernias.)

Yes, inconsistency; the rules seem to keep changing behind my back. You've got your bog-standard spin attack for dispatching enemies, but as for whether it will actually work on an enemy can only be determined through the scientific method. "No, you see, that guy wasn't vulnerable at that moment; he was moving 1.3 times faster than he does when he is vulnerable. Oh yeah, and your sonic blast can shatter ice blocks except when it can't, and here's another power that lets you take on the qualities of things you touch with your tongue." What does that mean, Yooka-Laylee? 'Cos I've been licking this picture of David Hasselhoff for hours and I don't feel any more virile. "Oh no, it's just some things, like you can lick a fire to become a fire lizard and walk through fire barriers". Yooka-Laylee, I just hurt myself on a flaming torch. "I didn't mean any fire, ugh." This is like figuring out what the in-laws want for dinner.

Sadly, I came away from Yooka-Laylee in a profoundly negative mood, but it was mainly because the final boss was an absolute pig. You can tell they put the effort in for it, 'cos the two prior interludes where one would have expected mid-game bosses instead contained fucking trivia quizzes like we were having to take the fucking DMV knowledge test, but we finally get an actual boss fight, and it just goes on and on with phase after phase, and which of your fifty different attacks will arbitrarily work for each new phase can only be determined through trial and error. It's a shame, really, that all the diverse fun up to then should be ruined by a boss that shows up and pisses on everything. Oh, bugger! I was hoping to avoid gags about American politics.

Addenda Edit

  • A weasel on top of a pig: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • I won't bring up the inherent problem with a cold-blooded creature being able to survive in a snowy level if you don't
  • Hernia prevention is everyone's responsibility
Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
Q3 Webcomics · Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures · Alone in the Dark · Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures · The E3 Trailer Park · Ninja Gaiden II · Prince of Persia Retrospective · Soulcalibur IV · Braid · EVE Online · Too Human · Spore · XBLA Double Bill
Q4 Mercenaries 2: World in Flames · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed · S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky · Silent Hill: Homecoming · Saints Row 2 · Dead Space · Fable II · Fallout 3 · Guitar Hero: World Tour · Mirror's Edge · Left 4 Dead · Sonic Unleashed · The Year in Review - 2008 · Prince of Persia
2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey

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