Finally, after months of waiting, Playtonic’s Yooka-Laylee has arrived on the Nintendo Switch. One could argue that it’s the platform most deserving of the throwback platformer, as Playtonic’s pedigree is from former Nintendo stalwart studio Rare LTD. And while initial reviews were scattered across the spectrum, nearly all agreed that Yooka-Laylee was a successful homage to the Nintendo 64 era platformers like Banjo-Kazooie. We did as well, with our original PC review. Today though, it’s all about the Yooka-Laylee Nintendo Switch edition review.
First things first – how’s the port? You’ll be pleased to know that while somke sacrifices have been made (the game runs at 900p and 600p, as opposed to 1080 and 720 in docked and portable modes), overall Yooka-Laylee looks and runs very well on the Switch. Tessellation, lighting, and other such effects have been dampened, but the core of YL is still intact. It’s no Zelda or Mario visually, but it gets the job done. Most importantly, the dynamic duo is still as animated as ever. In both modes, Yooka-Laylee runs at a pretty steady 30FPS, with dips here and there that it recovers from quite well.
What hasn’t really changed much in this version is the troublesome camera and need for a minimap. Both things we wished for back in the original launch, but both still an issue here. The auto-swooping camera can often lead to disorientation, a problem that’s plagued 3D platformers for decades. Meanwhile the game worlds, while still sublime visually, are still a bit of a pain to navigate until you really run around them for a good while. Pagie quests to go to certain places and do certain things without a map marker are often aggravating.
But where Yooka-Laylee more than makes up for its pitfalls is in its jumping, collecting, puzzle solving gameplay. Make no bones about it, if you don’t like collecting things or jumping from place to place, this is not the game for you. But if like me, your teen years were spent in Mario 64, Donkey Kong 64, and Banjo Kazooie, you’re in for a treat here. There are tons of Pagies (think Moons, for the Mario Odyssey fans) across multiple words, and some of them are very difficult to lay claim to. And as you collect quills (the in-game currency), you’ll also unlock a solid amount of special moves for Yooka and Laylee that’ll open up new ways to approach the game’s many challenges.
And if that wasn’t all, Co-Op mode is stellar, and there are tons of multiplayer mini-games you can access in the main game, or from the start menu. Tracking down and collecting Pagies can be a bit repetitive, but welcome to the world of platforming adventures. Or really most any game, we’d wager. Yooka-Laylee is a prime example of what it meant to love N64 games, brought to life today and still feels relevant. That’s a heck of an achievement, and I’m anxious to see what Playtonic can do next. While it doesn’t quite stand as tall as the Mario Odyssey masterpiece, Yooka-Laylee is a game every Switch owner should consider. Fantastic fun for all ages, and tons of content to boot.
- Tons of content
- Solid port from more powerful systems
- Absolute nostalgic joy
- Camera still a woe
- Minimap sorely needed
- Dialog and noice-voices can be annoying