‘Yooka-Laylee’ video game hits half note

Marc Moore

The most fitting word to describe “Yooka-Laylee” is inconsistent. Sometimes “Yooka-Laylee” is a solid platformer, with some interesting challenges and characters to find. Other times it’s a frustrating mess, brimming with horrible camera controls, pointless mini-games, boring worlds and laughably simple combat.

“Yooka-Laylee” is an action re-Yooka-Laylee.Onlineplatformer designed to recreate the nostalgia that gamers feel for classics like “Banjo-Kazooie,” “Super Mario 64,” “Spyro” and many others. You assume the roles of Yooka and Laylee, a body duo searching for Pagies, little book pages with faces on them, to stop Capital B’s evil plans to steal all the books in the world. While searching for Pagies you’ll find many other collectibles that you can exchange to gain new abilities, play arcade-style mini-games and transform into other characters.

Two of the games five levels are varied and well-designed, while the other three are bloated, boring and confusing. The good levels have lots to explore, with paths that are easy to follow and distinct areas that will keep you from getting lost. The bad levels are the exact opposite of this, with huge, empty areas that are difficult to navigate, uninteresting and overall poorly designed. Maneuvering through these worlds was a pain, with abysmal camera controls and slow movements often inhibiting progression more than the objective did.

Whenever exploration gets to be too disappointing or even when you stumble upon moments of fun, “Yooka-Laylee” offers mini-games and challenges that always fail to find a balance between mind-numbingly simple and frustratingly complicated.

Arcade-style mini-games called “Rextro’s Arcade” present bite-size challenges with painfully bad controls that totally spoil any fun that might be had.

Other characters will ask you to complete tasks for them, often time trials to defeat enemies, win a race or collect rings before the clock runs out. A few of these trials proved to be dynamic, exciting challenges, but most of them fall flat.

Another aspect of “Yooka-Laylee” that breaks up collecting Pagies are enemies. Combat in “Yooka-Laylee” is laughably shallow, and frankly a joke. Almost every enemy in the game can be defeated by a basic tailspin attack, which is just one button push. Other enemies need to be stunned first and then hit with the tailspin attack. That is the extent of combat in “Yooka-Laylee.”

Fighting enemies has been a major part of practically every classic 3D platformer ever released, yet the game fails miserably in this area.

Aesthetically, “Yooka-Laylee” is beautiful. Quirky, cartoony character designs all mix well within the environments, most of which look as though they were pulled straight from a Pixar movie. Each of the five levels have their own theme represented by impressive graphics. Yooka and Laylee look great, as well as most of their friends within the game.

Dialogue between characters is goofy, usually consisting of puns and fourth-wall-breaking jokes about the game itself. Sometimes these interactions were entertaining but within a generally frustrating game, I found myself eager to skip most of the story. The entire story is basic and unimportant, but most platformers of its kind are.

The game could have been great but it dropped the ball too many times to be considered “good.”

Frustration and boredom aren’t characteristics you would associate with a fun game, but unfortunately “Yooka-Laylee” is filled with frustration and boredom. Frustrating controls. Boring story.

Obnoxious camera movements. Empty worlds. Painful mini-games. Shallow combat. Deep within “Yooka-Laylee,” there are moments of unique and fun gameplay but ultimately, it fails to reach the heights of the classic platformers it desperately wanted to emulate.