Yooka-Laylee Preview: Making Up For Lost Time

Yooka-Laylee Preview: Making Up For Lost Time

As a person who never owned a Nintendo 64, Rare‘s beloved platformer Banjo-Kazooie is something that completely passed me by when I was a kid. I was still aware of Banjo‘s impact, and it became more apparent to me as I became more engrossed in Rare’s games in the Xbox 360 era. However, I never made my way back to Banjo-Kazooie, and that’s always been a regret of mine.

Yooka-Laylee Preview: Making Up For Lost Time 2However, when I played a brief section of Yooka-Laylee I found the game was challenging my initial preconceptions of what being a “spiritual successor” meant in this day and age, because it was giving me a second chance at trying out the game I missed all those years ago.

Yooka-Laylee developer Playtonic Games is made up of several former members of Rare, who Kickstarted the game in 2015 with the sales pitch of creating the Banjo-Kazooie-styled game they were unable to make now that they weren’t at Rare. While this was met with fervent excitement from Banjo-Kazooie fans, I had no attachment to that series, thus little reason to join in the celebration. But, Yooka-Laylee is doing more than giving Banjo fans the opportunity to enjoy a game in the similar vein of the dormant franchise—it’s giving people like me a chance to make up for lost time.

We’re at a point where several disgruntled developers are looking to create games like they did before they parted ways with their original companies. Looking at games like Keiji Inafune’s Mighty No. 9 and Koji Igarashi’s Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, I had originally shrugged off these games as plays at nostalgia, or perhaps their respective developers’ giving the metaphorical finger to their ex-employers. When I played Yooka-Laylee, it finally clicked that these spiritual successors can be more than just nostalgia plays for fans of series that are ostensibly dead to their original creators.

Yooka-Laylee Preview: Making Up For Lost Time 1As Nintendo 64 games, Banjo-Kazooie and its sequel Banjo-Tooie are, well, old. I could go back and play these games to understand this sliver of gaming history I missed, or I can look to something like Yooka-Laylee, a modernized platformer that embodies the spirit of these games without the limitations a console had 20 years ago. While playing Banjo would likely be the right choice to a fan of those games, if Yooka-Laylee can give me that same experience, re-contextualized by modern design, why would I not pick that option?

Whether Yooka-Laylee can ascend to the same praise its predecessors did in their time is yet to be seen, but if nothing else, in the brief moments I was able to play of it, Playtonic’s platformer offered me a new perspective regarding this wave of spiritual successors we’re seeing in the games industry today, and I’m excited for it to give me a guided tour of a chapter in platformers that I’m now feeling foolish for letting myself miss.

Yooka-Laylee is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, Wii U, and Xbox One in 2017.

Composer: Spiritual Successor to Banjo-Tooie Has Been Canceled

Composer: Spiritual Successor to Banjo-Tooie Has Been Canceled

After several years of speculation and occasional updates, it’s been confirmed that the once-rumored spiritual successor to Banjo-Tooie has officially been canceled.

Handled by a team of ex-Rare developers going by the name of Mingy Jongo, the game was intended to be a 3D platformer that, while not directly connected to the Banjo universe, borrowed the “same kind of humor, silly characters, fun gameplay, and all that stuff” that made the originals such endearing classics.

At one point, the team even hinted at possibly using Kickstarter to fund the game and using the Unity engine to create it.

However, Banjo-Kazooie composer and Mingy Jongo member Grant Kirkhope confirmed the worst when asked about the project during a recent Reddit AMA.

According to Grant, steps were made toward eventual completion of the game, but life simply got in the way. “The other guys actually had a secret meeting in a pub near Rare and we even got as far as having a character drawn up and a demo level type thing but it all fell to bits …. everyone’s got other jobs etc [sic].”

Banjo-Kazooie is a series that has had a handful of installments, the most notable being Banjo-Kazooie (1998) and Banjo-Tooie (2000) on the Nintendo 64, and Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts (2008) on the Xbox 360. The core console games were developed by British studio Rare, and Microsoft still owns the license to the beloved bear and bird duo. This news is indeed a letdown, but there’s always hope for Rare to take us back to Spiral Mountain again someday.