Saturday, May 2, 2015

Yooka-Laylee's success and remembering the 90's platformer games

It is a great time to celebrate for gamers who remember and love the 3D Platformers of the 90's! Playtonic Games, a team of Ex-Rare Employees, have kickstarted a game that follows the beloved gameplay style of the 90's collect-a-thon games. The game, titled Yooka-Laylee, pledged a goal of less than 200,000 euros and it is now over one million euros. It stands at 1,710,961 million US Dollars as I write this. The funding has been successful, but will this game's arrival cause a lazarus effect on what is now a dying sub-genre of the platforming genre? Maybe!! I certainly hope so! Lets explore that possibility and look at the current state of the platform genre, and of course lets look back at the platform games that marked our early life as gamers.

Amazing artwork of Yooka and Laylee


You can find the link to the kickstarter here. Go and support this awesome project. The once legendary company Rare was slowly destroyed over the years following said company's purchase by Microsoft. Once Rare left Nintendo they were relegated to mediocre work instead of being put on the development of big titles. But now that many of the staffers have left, they have left a Rare that is only Rare by name alone. Many of these talented people have joined forces in "Playtonic Games" and are now making this game- which could have some big repercussions on the gaming industry. A revival of the 3D platformers/adventure games could follow. Let's look back at what this genre used to be.

Our new heroes!!

We miss you RARE!!


All of us who hold those platform games of the 90s in high regard have been bummed out that this type of game has been on life-support during the last few generations of gaming. It's been years since those glory days were we explored Peach's Castle and its many worlds in Super Mario 64. Let's not forget exploring DK Island in Donkey Kong 64. And the list goes on with games like Conker's Bad Fur Day, and of course Banjo-Kazooie which is the inspiration for this game.

A classic dynamic duo!

In many ways Yooka-Laylee is a spiritual successor to this series

Similar to the Banjo games, Yooka-Laylee has a playable character who has another animal attached to him. Yooka is a chameleon who has a bat named Laylee grasping to his head. You can imagine just how cool the gameplay possibilities are. Video footage from the kickstarter campaign shows the chameleon rolling on the floor while the bat rides him. The bat also gives us the power of flight as she flaps her wings when the chameleon leaps long gaps. Oh before I forget, David Wise is composing this game. Yes, David Wise! The man behind the music of the Donkey Kong Country games!

Donkey Rap 4-Life!!

Still my favorite game of all time, SUPER MARIO 64


As I said earlier, it's been years since the era where this type of platformer dominated the genre. Every once in a while we see a platformer arrive with a similar vibe, like Psychonauts for the PS2 and Xbox many years ago. That game had various meaty levels where you explored and platformed around the enviroments. And you had many items to collect, like the "figments" inside people's heads.

Razputin, a psychic kid!

Lots of environments to explore

Let's not forget that the PS1 and PS2 also had platformers with big stages to explore like, Rayman 2, Rayman 3 Hoodlum Havok, the Spyro the Dragon trilogy among others. And you could describe Ratchet and Clank and the JAK games as Platformers with a lot of exploration [and action!! and lots of cool guns!!!!]. While were in the topic of Ratchet I need to say this= play Into the Nexus if you haven't yet. It's a return to form for insomniac's beloved Ratchet series. It's a short game compared with others in the series, but it's deep and very fun.

 Spyro 3 Year of the Dragon! PS1 was home to great platformers too!!

Lets collect some Gems!!

The Rayman 3D games were fun and challenging! Love the PS1 and PS2 era

A return to form for the Ratchet & Clank Series

Hopefully this will be one of this current generation's best Platformers


It's interesting to see that there has been a huge revival of the 2D style of platform games. Thanks greatly in part to the success of the New Super Mario Bros series, and the fact that many memorable and successful indie titles have been side-scrolling platformers. A recent success story was Yacht Game's Shovel-Knight, which also got its start via Kick-Starter. Even Rayman went back to his roots in the amazing and fun as hell games that were Rayman Origins and Rayman Legends. If the side scroller came back from near death, then why not the 3D Adventure-Platformer?

 Had a lot of fun with this during my High School Years

New Super Mario Bros in consoles and with Co-Op

Rayman returns to its roots

Shovel Knight, a glorious 8 bit throwback game


A recent trend among 3D Platforming games is that they play like 2D games. In part we have Nintendo to blame for that thanks to Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario 3D World. And don't get me wrong, I love those two games. the recent 3D Mario games are excellent platformers. But that is all they are -platformers. Gone is the adventure element that fascinated us during our childhood.

this game is awesome but has really small bite sized levels

It might have the word 3D in the title, but it plays a lot like a 2D game

Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 had meatier stages than 3D Land and 3D World, but that Mario Sub Series had way shorter levels than SM64 and Sunshine and they started the road towards platform games of quickie levels. We all know Mario games started strictly as platformers, but that doesn't mean there isn't room in the market for various types of gameplay styles. We already have both 2D and 3D Mario games coming out, so why not have two types of 3D Mario games instead of just one?

Epic game. In between Mario 64 and 3D Land/World in terms of gameplay style and exploration

This is a big enough level. But compare it with a Sunshine level and well...

This game is gorgeous, release it in HD Nintendo!!!


I think the main reason for our extreme wanting of this revival so much is the fact that we miss exploration in our platform games. Too many games nowadays hold our hand a lot and have level design that is very straightforward and overly-simple. And I'm not just referring to platformers, games as a whole have become very predictable. In the case of the platformers, it's hard to find a game where you get dropped into a level and then spend a lot of time in it. Current Mario games have stages with a 400 second timer. In the case of the N64 and Gamecube era Mario games you could spend more than half an hour on some of the bigger and harder stages in the process of getting a star. We want those types of stages back.

This castle was a second home to me during my childhood

Let's hope this world becomes a home to kids growing up in this era of gaming

Let's look at Mario 64 for examples of how deep level design and gameplay can be in a platformer! Remember when you found the cavern in Hazy maze cave and got to ride a Plesiosaurus? Remember finding the abandoned sunken city in Wet Dry World? And let's not forget all those small stages hidden throughout the castle like, Princess's Secret Slide, Tower of the Wing Cap, Secret Aquarium, and more.

 Wet Dry World! So much to do!

 Dorrie the Plesiosaurus! from Hazy Maze Cave

Wing Cap stages! So many cool secret stages to find!

But you have to be careful with how much exploration and items you put on a player's plate. Obviously I'm talking about Donkey Kong 64, which was very excessive in many ways and also very slow at times. Still a good game, but let's hope Yooka-Laylee keeps things at a big enough scale, while not overdoing it.

A bit over-stuffed but still a very cool game

So much stuff to collect

Let's hope they don't overdo the collecting aspect of the gameplay


I don't know what will happen in the next few years of gaming, in regards to the platformer genre. But I can hope that this game creates a domino effect in the industry. Hopefully more developers will go to kickstarter to pitch their 3D platformers to gamers. The same way that many point and click adventure games have followed the success of Double Fine's Broken Age. Ron Gilbert's Thimble-Weed Park comes to mind. We can also hope that Nintendo and other big studios help revive the genre. Seeing another Mario game in the style of Mario 64 and Sunshine would be amazing. A Wii U remake of Super Mario 64 and a remastering of Sunshine would be nice too. I'm asking and hoping for a lot now, I know. But we can hope, so let's do it! To Playtonic games, I wish you the best of luck with this game. And to the Adventure-platformer genre, I wish you rebirth and many years of great success. I urge fans to support this campaign, and other similar endeavours like A Hat in Time. The reward tiers are pretty cool. You can get the steam version of the game for just 15 bucks. Console versions are about 23 US Dollars. Some of the higher rewards include the soundtrack, physical PC Copies, and even a box in the style of the rectangular N64 era boxes.

Tim Schafer helps revive the point and click adventure genre 

Ron Gilbert helps revive the point and click adventure genre 

Playtonic Games helps revive the 90's style Platform games

Thank you for reading. I hope this article brought you some nostalgic memories from a great era in gaming. If you enjoyed it then feel free to follow this blog and check out our earlier articles including a Contra and Pilotwings review. We have a youtube channel with many gaming and non-gaming videos. Thanks for the support! Take Care Everyone!!!

They seem like lovable characters! We need more gaming mascots!

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Thank you for reading! See you next time!

-Robert "djtitoflow"

(article written Saturday May 2, 2015)

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