Note – We received a review copy of this game in exchange for our honest review. This review was done on a Nintendo Switch Lite and on a Regular Nintendo Switch in docked mode.
Yooka Laylee is globally known as the game to bring back a long missed Banjo Kazooie franchise. Although the last Yooka Laylee had a few hiccups, Playtonic and Team 17 are back at it again with a whole new game in the series: Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair. If you haven’t played a Yooka Laylee game before, the main thing you need to know is that it’s based off of Banjo Kazooie and Banjo Tooie. If you don’t know Banjo Kazooie…here you go.
The Banjo Kazooie playstyle Yooka Laylee is known for has completely changed. From my perspective, it seems like Playtonic loves the original Rareware characters that have sidekicks. Yooka Laylee and The Impossible Lair takes most of its inspiration from the Donkey Kong Country series with high speed platforming, flying, collectables and secrets in the stages along with a hint of the Legend of Zelda series sprinkled in.
While the first Yooka Laylee wasn’t perfect, it still did the job it was trying to accomplish: filling the void that was left from the Banjo series when it essentially died. This time Yooka Laylee’s going full Donkey Kong – but how does it stack up?
Starting the game
Capital B is up to his usual shenanigans. This time instead of trying to use the pagies to rewrite the universe and help his ”beesiness” thrive, Capital B now wants to be in control all of the bees in the entire Royal Stingdom. After dealing with various traps and platforming Yooka and Laylee are granted their very own Beettalion.
The Beettalion acts as a super shield for Yooka and Laylee allowing them to take damage at the coast of losing a bee. After all of the bees are gone the heroes take normal damage and start to lose heath regularly.
Learning this information about the beettalion, Capital B takes control of a few Bees in order to fight Yooka and Laylee. After Capital B inevitable defeat the game “beegins” (Oh yeah, this won’t get old). Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Layer Starts our heroes in the Impossible Layer after the first initial cut scene. Players are told that if you can beeat the Impossible layer you can face Capital B and end the game.
Similar to Breath Of The Wild, Players can challenge the final stage and or boss fight at any point in the game after the tutorial area. Any player that decides to go through the game’s stages are granted more bees for your betallian witch makes getting through impossible layer significantly easier.
Look and Feel
This game pops with color and is very nice to look at. I played the majority of the game in handheld mode on the Nintendo Switch Lite. As is often the case with Switch titles, the graphics didn’t seem to change much when docked. Of course, this vastly depends on your tv and settings. I docked my switch on a 75 inch Samsung 4k HDR tv in vivid mode and the game was admittedly stunning.
For the sake of comparison I then docked the switch on a 32 inch 1080p sony tv and the game still look just as nice even with the tv on its natural settings. No matter where you play the game it still looks impressive, The graphics shouldn’t let anyone down.
Like Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, you can move quickly through the stages or even try and get good times for a speed run. If that’s not your cup of tea, you can go slowly at your own pace. The overworld reminds me of a classic style Zelda game. Playing This new Yooka Laylee, I get lots of Link’s Awakening Vibes in the hub world – needing various tools to get to knew areas on the map, using puzzles to get water flowing just for a new door to open and just generally traversing through the land was a blast.
There are mandatory pagies challenges to expand the world. Every pagie challenge is a little too easy only scaling up in difficulty slightly as you progress through the story.
Yooka Laylee and The Impossible Lair takes lots of cues from other games and skillfully blends it into the one and man, I’ve gotta say it does a fantastic job of it. In some stages you can find a feather that when touched it flies around the screen. While it’s flying around, you can chase it and collect the small gold feathers it drops, If you collect them all before it leaves you get a prize. If this mechanic sounds familiar it’s because this is exactly what the flying banana in Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze did.
Different colored feathers do different things like the red feather spits small gold feathers all over the screen for you to collect.
Green feathers make you chase it in a quick pattern and collect small gold ones in a path. Note not all need to be collected to be rewarded. Also when you lose Laylee, Yooka loses all abilities until you find a checkpoint bell. When you lose your companion, Laylee floats to the top of the screen so you have to save her quickly otherwise Yooka is on his own.
The music in this game is memorable and fantastic. The usual Banjo Kazooie style of music is still present in the game but there are whole new tracks with a variety of instruments that I have yet to get out of my head.
Right at the start of you the game you are given an option to clear the final stage right away and fight the final boss. But beware, doing so right away is extremely difficult and is not advised. It’s kind of like charging Calamity Ganon with a handful of tree branches and apples.
I tried right from the start and got 20% though the stage but after that I was unable to get any further. You have to have fantastic timing and platforming skills to make this happen. Luckily, you can go back to the impossible lair at any time.
This game can be rewarding for any seasoned gamers that play a lot of platformers,There are a lot of collectables you can get by using complete skill only. There are no easy collectables to get, Without perfect timing some coins and collectibles can be out of your reach and the player has to plan accordingly when jumping off of an enemies head.
In the hub world you can find several chests that contain gold feathers and tonics that give you different abilities and buffs. My favorite buff allows Yooka and Laylee to slowly fall if you hold the jump button, This make tricky areas easier to traverse.
The level design is fantastic and a ride to go though. Some areas require you to move quickly and I’ve got to tell you: moving through levels at top speed feels great. If you are anything like me when you start getting a good groove and speed going, you won’t want to stop. Once you feel that thrill, at every stage you go to you will try and move at top speed.
Although the pagie challenges are largely way too easy, a lot of them are very creative. One challenge plays like space invaders: destroy the enemies above and you pass the challenge. The game world is very creative, using elemental bombs and objects to change the theme and layout of a stage for example, You can grab a water bomb and throw it at a stage. When you do this, the stage is now flooded and becomes a water level, now you are granted new areas to explore in a level you just beat giving a whole new experience. Bombs have a time limit so you have to move fast. Some stages are far away from the bombs so lots of skill and speed will be needed most of the time to change the stage layouts. On a side note bombs do not hurt you, so you can attempt a stage change as many times as needed.
The writing is punny and witty and the characters break the 4th wall throughout the entire game. Every character in the game is very aware that they are in a game world. one character stating that they hope their sidekick isn’t trying to start their own solo game. This concern is later addressed when they say their sidekick most likely can’t have their own game because they don’t have a big enough nose to be a main character.
Yooka Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a fantastic game, I feel that any Donkey Kong fan or platforming enthusiast should play this game. The tight controls, The near perfect level design for speed running and every bit of humor in the game makes it a worthwhile addition for any Nintendo fans library and any fan of the platforming genre in general. This game gets a strong recommendation from me!