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Yooka-Laylee--PlayTonic's spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie
News reported by 
February 10, 2015, 21:29:02
UPDATE: Kickstarter is live, funded, and up until Tuesday, June 16th! Let's hit some stretch goals!

PlayTonic site link

Go check it out! There's only a couple nuggets of info (and a mysterious piece of art), but apparently Edge will be releasing a new issue on Thursday with the first look at this new game, "Project Ukelele." My guess is some sort of Hawaiian-themed 3D platformer? I'm down.

If you’ve made it this far towards our fine internet abode, then you’ve probably worked out that we’re a new game developer, formed by some blokes who did those games you may or may not have liked as a nipper.

However, if you’ve stumbled here by accident in search of non-sexual relationship advice, allow us to explain what on Earth is going on…

Playtonic’s the name, and fun games, unique characters and absolutely-frickin-amazing worlds to explore are our game. Or at least they will be, once we eventually get around to releasing our first project instead of faffing around on WordPress.

Ahem. Currently we’re a sextet of artists, programmers and designers – sort of like The Pussycat Dolls with computer science degress – with one thing in common; we were all once core member of famous UK studio Rare, where we helmed franchises such as Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong Country and Viva Piñata.

We’ve got the bloke who programmed Donkey Kong Country, the character designer behind Banjo and Kazooie, and the artist who made your console fit to burst with lavish environments across a decade’s worth of adventure games.

Together, our all-star ensemble is aiming to build its debut game, ‘Project Ukulele’, into a worthy spiritual successor to those fondly remembered platforming adventures we built in the past.

By now, you might be thinking, ‘hold on mate, didn’t you make similar claims after drinking too many shandies in the pub in 2012, you muppet?’ Perhaps. But this time it’s real! We’re making a real, proper, actual game. Look: we even managed to trick convince Edge magazine to do us some pages!

You can read all about our venture and see the first artwork for our game in Edge issue 277, which is on sale from February 12.

So what’s next? Well first of all you need to know that our journey is at an early stage – we’ve barely left the Shire and Sean Bean’s still an alright guy.

Over the coming months we’ll reveal more about our project and future growth plans, and we very much intend to get you involved and listen to your views on our game’s direction. You’ll ultimately shape the destination of our project and we plan to continue exchanging sweet glances across cyberspace at you until we get there.

So go on then – follow us on Twitter, slap your thumbs up on our Facebook and sign up for updates. ‘ Cos it’s time to get this wagon rolling…

(well, it definitely has Rare's quirky sense of humor and unusual vernacular)

What do you think?

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Posted: 02/10/15, 21:29:02  - Edited by 
 on: 04/05/17, 22:56:13    
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I just finished up the game 100%. Here's my mini review.

I get why so many people are down in Yooka Laylee. It's from a genre that time has largely forgotten, it's been placed in the shadow of that genre's greatest titan, and has (in some people's eyes) the life of the genre dependent upon it. Not to mention the nostalgia fueled, multimillion dollar kickstarter and the hype surrounding that. In many ways, the newly formed Playtonic had to create the second coming of 90's platforming Christ.

So when the game finally came out and it was simply a pretty good title that's rough around the edges, disappointment was inevitable. It was a bubble waiting to burst. Nothing can live up to those hopes and expectations. This is why I put news if the game on blackout after the kickstarter ended. I set my expectations to tepid, and pushed the game to the back of my mind. When the time came, I went in expecting a solid 3D platformer. What I got was better than that, and something that I would argue most people would be happy with had the game been released in a different context.

Yooka Laylee does indeed follow in the footsteps of games like Banjo Kazooie, which in itself is an all too Rare treat. It hits the all the key points in the genre, but doesn't push the envelope in any way. Despite the lack of ambition or experimentation ( or maybe because of it), Yooka Laylee doesn't have any dips in quality either. Saying it's "just another 90's platformer" sells the baseline quality of the experience short, but the term does feel apt regarding what Yooka Laylee actually strives to be.

Imagine Yooka Laylee is a student doing some sort of creative writing paper. It has two options. 1. Try an experimental new format or tone beyond what is expected in a 100 level English course, which could either fail or succeed spectacularly. Or 2. It can take the safe option and write what is expected of it, not take any chances, and take the guaranteed B. It'll be nothing to sneeze at and the paper is fine (maybe even great depending on taste), but you know in the back of your mind that it could have taken that creative risk to make things more interesting.

Yooka Laylee took option 2. Unfortunately for it, everybody was expecting it to be valedictorian of the damn decade, so now its parents have kicked it out and stopped paying for tuition. Oops.

I may seem to be coming across as negative or even disappointed here, but I'm happy with how the game turned out. A new, solidly made B grade effort in a dead genre that I love makes me a happy camper. And I'm able to walk away happy because I kept my expectations grounded. I didn't buy in to the apocalyptic stakes that had been set for the title.

I didn't expect we'd get such a case of unfulfilled hype so soon after No Man's Sky, but apparently people still haven't learned their lesson. Maybe Breath of the Wild delivering for so many people has reset expectations. Regardless, now that Playtonic has had a chance to settle in as a new team and now that they have some time out of the spotlight, I hope they'll feel comfortable to take more of a risk with Tooka Laylee.

Posted by 
 on: 04/26/17, 07:12:56  - Edited by 
 on: 04/26/17, 19:01:49

Good write-up. I am very curious to play this game and it seems like as long as I go in with low expectations it will turn out okay for me.

Posted by 
 on: 04/26/17, 08:32:23
Just rented this puppy from the library. Similarly to my recent viewing of BvS (Extended Cut), my expectations were so low going in that I'm kind of pleased with it!

I will say that the default camera, even post-patch, was literally making me ill when I started playing. I was all set to completely write the game off. But after digging around in the options and enabling a Mario Sunshine-esque manual camera control, I started to enjoy the game. There are still a few problems with the camera, like the manual vertical movement, the FOV, and the occasional forced shifts, but it's definitely bearable now. In that dodgy classic 3D platformer kind of way, of course. Playing a classically-styled 3D platformer really makes you appreciate what Nintendo brought to the table with the Super Mario Galaxy and 3D Super Mario Land/World serieseseses. They're way more playable.

That said, I really do feel that this game is a worthy spiritual successor to the Banjo-Kazooie series. It genuinely evokes the feel of the first game (rather than overstuffed sequel), and I've enjoyed the dense (Mario Odyssey-esque?) level design so far. While performing each task, you almost always get distracted by clues to another, collectibles, etc. A bit like BotW, perhaps. The level design feels quite organic. The world expansion is an interesting way to deal with the overwhelming feeling of level bloat, and the Cheats are a neat touch, as well. And the quiz sections are irritating, but fun, in true BK fashion.

Of course, there are some shortcomings. The main villain is kind of boring, and there are definitely hokey bits (like the gibberish and... well, the entire story, pretty much), but the original BK was no less hokey.

The music is good, but the themes are a bit too similar to the BK themes. I've always enjoyed those themes, though.

So, yeah, I dunno. I've had fun so far, 9 Pagies in. I'll probably start skipping the cutscenes, but I definitely want to play more. It's refreshing to play an N64-style 3D platformer. And, as a moderate fan of Banjo-Kazooie, I'm moderately enjoying Yooka-Laylee!

The widespread disappointment from BK fans is honestly a bit puzzling to me. I guess I'll read through this thread to try to understand what you guys didn't like about it.

Posted by 
 on: 09/04/17, 21:09:28
What I didn't like about it was that it didn't release on the Wii U. ;)

Is there even a Switch release date yet?

Posted by 
 on: 09/06/17, 19:28:27
Way out of the loop now. When's this coming? I want. None of the complaints have fazed me.

Posted by 
 on: 09/06/17, 23:27:10
No Switch release date yet, as far as I know. I'm still pretty excited for it, too, but PlayTonic would be wise to get it out to us before Mario Odyssey comes out and becomes the new gold standard for this type of game...

Posted by 
 on: 09/06/17, 23:54:44
@TriforceBun Is Odyssey a BK type platformer? I honestly haven't been paying attention to the details...

Posted by 
 on: 09/07/17, 01:58:52
.....yes? It's a mix of BK style and Galaxy style I would say?

Posted by 
 on: 09/07/17, 02:03:10

Pretty much. In fact, the core mechanic of grabbing the Moons felt more like B-K than SM64 when I tried it at E3. It doesn't kick you out of the stage, so the gameplay flow is more along the lines of "comb the stages for everything in a long, completionist-type run" than "search for this specific mission in the level, then come back to it later if you want more." It's that mixed with Galaxy's attention to detail and creativity, like @carlosrox alluded to.

Posted by 
 on: 09/07/17, 02:12:10

I played it a few months ago, and I'm pretty much of the same opinion as you. I enjoyed it quite a bit, enough at least to platinum it. It's definitely rough around the edges and has some annoying bits, but they pretty much delivered exactly what they promised with their Kickstarter. It's a 90's N64-style 3D platformer, and even if it doesn't aspire to be much more than that, it was just what the doctor ordered for me. Maybe it was largely because I hadn't played one of these types of games in a really long time, but it really got its hooks into me. The more I played of it, the more I wanted to see and do everything.

Posted by 
 on: 09/07/17, 13:47:45
Totally! I'm not sure how much I'd be enjoying it without my Banjo nostalgia, but who cares, really?

By the way, apparently, I started playing Yooka Laylee one day after they released a huge Quality of Life patch, so maybe that explains why I enjoyed it more than some of you guys. It seems like the manual camera wasn't even an option before? That alone would've made a huge difference to me.

Posted by 
 on: 09/08/17, 05:02:17
New update on Switch Status.

Playtonic Games via Kickstarter said:
The Playtonic team has been working tirelessly to bring Yooka-Laylee to Nintendo Switch and we're very nearly there (we promise!) However, we've encountered some final technical hurdles and had been waiting for the arrival of Unity 5.6 in order to fix them. Although this has now been released, it has unfortunately introduced other issues which we are working with Unity to resolve before we can submit to Nintendo and lock in our release timeline.
We understand the frustration that it's taken so long to get the game in your hands but we hope that you understand that we're working as fast as we can and want the game to perform as well as it possibly can on Switch. Once these remaining issues are resolved we hope to finally be able to commit to and share a launch date. Thanks as ever for your patience and please bear with us - we are getting there!

Posted by 
 on: 09/25/17, 18:12:08

Posted by 
 on: 09/25/17, 18:30:15
I don't know much about Switch dev but I've definitely run into a lot of weird, random issues with the latest version of Unity.

Posted by 
 on: 09/25/17, 18:58:03

Have they been fixing these issues, or do you have to redo all the stuff you already did? Just asking because we're a month away from some heavy Unity development and I'd rather not jump in now if things are off.

Posted by 
 on: 09/25/17, 23:52:25
Game is finally releasing on Switch, digital only, December 14th.

I mean, more power to them, I guess, but releasing so close to both Odyssey and Xenoblade 2? Why? Feels like a delay to the dead-zone of January/February would make this more special than mid-December. Has anyone who waited this long and put up with this nonsense going to NOT get it even with another couple months delay? But whatever, at this point I'm waiting for a hefty sale before I pick this one up. Just took too long and there are too many other (apparently far better) games to play at this point. Plus I'm still kind of upset I gave them money for Kickstarter and then they cancelled the Wii U version and wouldn't let me switch to Switch. What do I need this on PC for? No thanks.

Okay, grumbling's over. One nice thing is they fully optimized this for the system, and it is supposed to be the smoothest running version. So that's something!

Posted by 
 on: 11/28/17, 17:21:41  - Edited by 
 on: 11/28/17, 17:22:28
@J.K. Riki Most of the issues were specifically related to my 2D Toolkit plugin, so if you aren't using that you wouldn't run into them anyway. And I THINK they were related to content made in older versions that was reimported for newer versions and such, if you started clean with a new version you'd probably be fine.

I can't say things have been fixed, but I have found some workarounds.

Posted by 
 on: 11/28/17, 17:35:52
J.K. Riki said:
Plus I'm still kind of upset I gave them money for Kickstarter and then they cancelled the Wii U version and wouldn't let me switch to Switch.
Whaaaat? Really? That sucks! I just messaged them asking if I could switch over myself, because like you said, what do I need this on PC for?

(also, have you seen Coco?)

Posted by 
 on: 11/28/17, 18:37:36

I have not yet seen Coco, but heard great things!

As for the switching versions, yeah, it sucks. They had an option for switching your Wii U one to Xbox, PS, or PC, but I didn't WANT those options, and once the Switch one was announced I emailed them asking for that and they flat out said no. I hope you have better luck (and if you do, please tell me who you spoke with because I still would love to have the option! If not, I will chalk it up to the gamble of Kickstarter, and I'm glad I was able to help someone get funding, at least, even if the reward never came).

Posted by 
 on: 11/28/17, 18:40:21  - Edited by 
 on: 11/28/17, 18:40:29
Did they announce the launch price for the Switch version?

I would have gladly bought this on Wii U, but at this point I find that my interest is now gone. Which is kind of a shame, but it is what it is. I'll probably wait and see what kind of sales are offered in the future.

Posted by 
 on: 11/28/17, 19:31:35
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