What is Yooka-Laylee?
Yooka-Laylee is a light-hearted platforming adventure that follows the green chameleon Yooka, and the sassy bat Laylee, as they try to round up the pages of an all-powerful book before a corporate bad guy, a honey bee named Capital B, can get his hands on it. With the dastardly bee planning to use the power of the book to rewrite the world, it's up to the dynamic duo to make use of their ever expanding arsenal of moves to leap, lick and roll across the game's varied lands, and collect all the lost pages, now known as Pagies, before it's too late.
How do you play Yooka-Laylee?
With half a dozen varied worlds to explore, you'll regularly come across characters who need your help, as you traverse the bridges, ladders, and platforms of each land. Whether it's beating a hyper young cloud in a race, saving a skeletal adventurer from a horde of ravenous cannibals, or reuniting a porcine knight with his long lost comrades, you rarely have to wander far to find someone in need, with each giving you a Pagie if you can give them a hand (or beat them at their challenge). Some missions also require a degree of platforming prowess, asking you to leap from platform to platform, roll up slopes, or even dodge jets of fire as you race to the top, with some also putting you under a time limit.
Despite being a pair of characters, Yooka and Laylee move and work together as one, with a range of moves that complement each other. While Yooka can use his springy tail to backflip onto a higher ledge, Laylee can flap her wings to help you glide over a long gap. Each level is also completely packed with hidden collectables, the most numerous of which are Quills, which can be collected and spent on new moves at Trowzer, the dodgy snake salesman's store, with each new move in turn letting you access new areas and Pagies in each world.
How easy is Yooka-Laylee to pick up and play?
On the whole, Yooka-Laylee is a fairly forgiving game, with infinite lives and nothing in the way of game overs - if you mess up, you'll simply be brought back to life, able to retry where you left off. However, the structure of the game is a tad more open than similar games, as you'll almost always have a choice of which quests you want to do, what worlds you want to visit, and which missions you want to take on, in what order. While your stable of available moves will limit what you can attempt somewhat, its not always immediately obvious that the reason you can't reach the switch/item is because you don't yet have the correct moves, until you've spent a fair amount of time trying everything in vain. The main hub world of Capital B's lair, which links the various lands together, is also a bit of a maze, so it's sometimes a bit tricky to figure out how to jump from world to world.
While the controls are easy to get to grips with, boss fights can provide a hefty challenge. The first boss here sees Yooka and Laylee having to roll up a slope, dodging logs and fire as they go in order to whack a wall-like character in the mouth. Rolling up the hill while avoiding the logs that are simultaneously tumbling towards you requires some serious analogue stick skills and quick reactions - much more so than the rest of the game - meaning the bosses can take several attempts.
For the youngest of players, it's important to note that Yooka-Laylee is fully subtitled, but also entirely unvoiced, relying on text only to convey important story information as well as what you need to do for each quest. The text is also littered with puns, riddles and some peculiar accents and speech impediments, so a confident reading ability is a must.
Sample Sentences include:
- "Excccelent. Now go whack thossse treasure chestsss and bring me my 5 quillsss."
- "My feet are wet, but do not fret, I won't drown by this corplet town."
- "Might you assist a gentleman with a modest lighting quandary?"
Generally speaking, Yooka-Laylee is very tame in terms of mature content - bright and colourful, with nothing in the way of blood and gore or bad language, any violence here is limited to whacking enemies with your tail, or spitting brightly-coloured projectiles at them, at which point they simply disappear in a puff of smoke.
A few light innuendos do crop up in the dialogue, though, although most are likely to go over a little one's head. Throughout the game, you'll shop for upgrades at a snake called Trowzer's shop (trouser snake, geddit?), while in one area, you'll find some flirty flowers who've been looking for a "strapping flora like you" and want you to "fondle my petals for a bit", but there's nothing particularly overt. Some are even more subtle, such as the sign above Yooka and Laylee's shipwreck they call home - the "Bat Ship Crazy".
Format Reviewed: Nintendo Wii U