Ah Kickstarter, is there any series you can’t revive? With so many older gaming titles getting reboots funded on the site, nobody was really surprised when a gang of Rare Ltd.’s former veteran developers managed to get almost instant funding and attention for a spiritual successor to one of their most popular games. Nobody was surprised, but everyone was delighted!
Set for release in late 2016, Yooka Laylee will be the first release by a new studio, Playtonic Games. It stars a heroic protagonist and his loud mouthed female flying sidekick; sound familiar? Even now people are calling it a spiritual successor to the timeless Nintendo 64 classic, Banjo Kazooie, which a lot of the team at Playtonic Games worked on back in the day. Other similarities include a heavy emphasis on collectibles, including ‘Pagies’ that can help unlock new worlds by restoring pages of a book, a big cast of characters, and a ‘quiz show challenge’ just before the final boss.
Aside from the promise of a potentially fantastic gaming experience, what else does this mean for us? Well, it shows that 3D platformers might not be quite as dead as we thought. In recent years there has been much less of an interest in older style ‘kiddy’ platformers, aside from the Mario and Sonic franchises, whilst more adult ones such as God of War are immensely popular. Perhaps it shows that industry names and nostalgia are enough to get us excited: Rare Ltd was behind some of the biggest gaming cult classics of all time, including Battle Toads and Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Maybe it simply shows that a good idea by a competent team is all we need to really get excited about a game: no huge publicity rallies, no dense marketing campaign, just a great prospective title and enthusiasm from fans. For someone who rarely puts faith in overly hyped marketing for Triple-A releases anymore, Yooka Laylee is a breath of fresh air. Perhaps it simply shows the power of Kickstarter. Regardless, Yooka Laylee shows a lot of potential, and I cannot wait for further developments.