Despite having pedigree developers, and support in the form of a tremendously successful Kickstarter campaign, the Playtonic Games situation was not easy. Appealing to nostalgia is a complicated issue because it often involves using as a yardstick to measure memories and sensations instead of reality itself. Formed by former members of Rare ,
this British studio opened in 2015 with the intention of regaining some power of decision and offer fans something they had been asking for years. The “Ukulele project”, later renamed Yooka-Laylee, was received between cheers because it represented just what
the generation that grew up with Nintendo 64 lost when the alliance with Nintendo was disbanded: the pet platforms (call themselves Banjo, Donkey Kong or Conker)
disappeared little by little, giving way to a new stage in the one that preferred to be more direct in order to better control each step of the way.
What on the one hand can be good (Mario and some characters from the Sony factory attest to that), but on the other left a gap without candidates to fill it.
While it is true that under the tutelage of Microsoft emerged interesting games such as Kameo and Viva Piñata, the transformation of Banjo-Kazooie in Baches and Cachivaches was a jug of cold water for many followers of the bear and the pájara, who starred in such an
original title as different from those that a decade ago catapulted that duo to fame. The subsequent involvement of Rare in the Xbox avatars and several games for Kinect did nothing but salt to an increasingly deeper wound, which created the appropriate climate for the promises of Playtonic were received with euphoria.
The emancipation and reunion of veterans like Chris Sutherland, Steve Mayles or Steven Hurst under one roof, as well as their clear determination to create a successor of Banjo-Kazooie that was what the fans wanted (change of name and characters for legal reasons) apart)
obtained a quick and intense response, breaking the record of Kickstarter to reach the million dollars in just six hours. A success that surprised Playtonic herself, who suddenly saw herself with even more responsibility than she expected.
In the shadow of Banjo-Kazooie
For better or for worse, the name of Banjo-Kazooie is one that will always be associated with Yooka-Laylee. When Rare created the original couple, he did so in a setting dominated by Super Mario 64, but he provided enough ideas to become his own species.
The term collectathon, back in the modern vocabulary, thanks in large part to the appearance of Playtonic, it was completed in a game where levels were built to guide us with items like bread crumbs in a lush forest. While Super Mario 64 had its 120 stars to
collect, as a rule each of them was raised as a culmination to a level or goal that returned us once overcome, maintaining the structure of short phases despite having many more worlds broad.
Rare, on the contrary, embraced this idea of scenarios formed by a multitude of interlaced zones and situations that could be explored in different order, without interruptionsunless the player wanted to go out on his own (something that even penalized restarting the counter musical notes, entry ticket to new areas).
At some point of this transition, the genre began to get more into the terrain of adventure than of the plataform, which although still present, was another resource to add variety throughout the hours. Banjo-Kazooie knew that it was not Mario, and did not bother
to fine-tune the maneuverability of the characters or the design of the levels in such a meticulous way, but in return it offered richer worlds, with extravagant characters and a myriad of crazy ideas. in the plot as the playable.
It was a success not because we liked to pick up things, but because it was fun to see what surprised us as we did it. Unfortunately, some of his imitators (inside and outside Rare) could not balance both facets equally well, so in a matter of three or four years
the collectathon moved aside to focus on other proposals. It was a subgenre of very localized explosion and little evolution, often erroneously translated as an increase in numbers or square meters.
As a spiritual successor, Yooka-Laylee does not hide her love for Banjo-Kazooie and what she supposed, sometimes reaching an unhealthy extreme. Being starred by two animals that always go together and complement each other in their actions, or that their
united names also sound like a string instrument is just the tip of the iceberg: the artistic direction, the structure of the main world with several
connections and inputs to different levels, the nature of the items to be collected, the dialogues, the soundtrack, the quizzes and even the interface of the menu exclaim Banjo without using any of those five letters.
The team has been able to faithfully replicate the style even without the license or a means comparable to those available to Rare.today, what leaves Yooka-Laylee in a strange position, halfway between the homage and the copy, where his own
identity can be shaken. The fact that Playtonic is a studio so rooted in Rare and has made clear its intention from the first minute normalizes the situation, but does not prevent a certain quality of substitute is mixed with the flavor of the title.