Donkey Kong Country, Battletoads, Banjo-Kazooie – what made these games so special? They were all made by the juggernaut Rareware, still being memorable to this very day. Chris Stamper lead a team of brilliant employees to create amazing titles during the 1990s, but they all split off when Rare was bought out by Microsoft, a shell of their former glory. Googly eyes would never be the same again.
Earlier this year, however, there was a spark of hope. Old staff from Rare teamed up to create Playtonic Games, so perhaps a new 3D collect-a-thon was bound to happen? Enter Yooka-Laylee, a game that will follow in the classic Rareware’s footsteps.
Formerly known as Project Ukulele, Playtonic Games pushed the game onto Kickstarter and smashed the rather modest £175,000 within twenty-four hours, with having currently raised over £1,200,000 at the time of writing.
The reason why fans are clamouring for a new 3D collect-a-thon platformer is that there hasn’t been one in over ten years. Rare’s gone on to make iteration after iteration of Kinect Sports, so it’s pretty easy to see why fans of older Rare games have been waiting for this oppurtunity.
After only three months of work, Playtonic Games has managed to present us with a beautiful looking game, with the vibrant colours of Banjo-Kazooie and the chunky, massive, and breathtaking worlds of Donkey Kong 64, but isn’t overwhelmingly huge, unlike the aforementioned game. There will even be an optional Nintendo 64 shader worked into the game!
Grant Kirkhope and David Wise have both teamed up to work on tracks for the soundtrack, and the samples they have provided are nothing short of brilliant. Give them a listen, if you haven’t already. The songs are extremely promising so far, and when October 2016 rolls around, I’ll be sure to listen for amazing music.
The game’s in extremely early days, but the gameplay is looking good already. Yooka, the charmeleon, can roll around to attack enemies and traverse areas quicker (unlike Banjo’s pitiful roll, which was barely quicker than his walking speed). Laylee looks to have a pretty useful glide, as well – these two abilities, and I presume many more, will be put to good use within the game.
There’s a reason why Yooka-Laylee deserves to be released: to make another game that has captured the magic of those that came out prior, and to influence other indie developers to follow in their footsteps to create another golden age of 3D platformers. I suppose it was all in due time.