Whether you were a fan of the genre or not, there is no denying that 3D platforms died a steady death, smothered under a pile of collectibles. As developer Playtonic came together to create Yooka-Laylee, that fact wasn’t lost on them. But learning from the mistakes of the past, the team has a plan for how to avoid a similar fate for their new game.
“We want to capture the good things about collect-athons from the past and avoid the tedium,” the game’s writer, Andy Robinson, explains to the PlayStation Blog.
“Every collectible has meaningful impact on gameplay. For example, quills can be used to pay for special moves, butterflies refill the health and power meters, and Pagies unlock new areas and environments, which in turn open up fresh challenges and secrets.”
Almost as important as gameplay, there’s also the question of the game’s characters. Yooka and Laylee are clearly adorable, but Playtonic put as much thought into the supporting cast as well. “We wanted the characters to live on beyond just this game so that we can build our own universe,” Robinson says.
“So when we designed them, we thought about whether they could be in a different genre, or star in their own game.” This extends from Nimbo, a cloud lamenting his ex-wife and capable of changing the weather according to what you do to him, to “Big Baddie Capital B,” a corporate lingo-spouting villain, and Townzer, a snake salesman who happens to wear shorts.
“It would be easy for us to just go into autopilot when making the game, so we’re very conscious about that,” says Grant Kirkhope, the game’s composer. “That said, there’s not much out there that looks like Yooka-Laylee right now, which is weird because back in the ’90s there were tons of 3D platformers.”
Even without as much direct competition, the video game industry is still pretty well saturated as a whole. “You really need something to stand out,” adds Character Art Director Steve Mayles. “We’ve played many games recently where you feel exhausted when you finished them because it wasn’t as enjoyable an experience as you wanted. But every time you pick up the controller for Yooka-Laylee we just want you to have a good time.”
Yooka-Laylee is coming to PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, and PC. It was originally meant to release this October, but Playtonic recently delayed the game to an early 2017 launch.