Yooka-Laylee looks and plays the part of a classic Rare collectathon but with crisp, HD graphics. However, that isn’t enough for the guys and gals at Playtonic. They’re currently hard at work making the game look more like the retro, blocky, pixelated N64 platformer collectathons of yore.
Yooka-Laylee was one of those Kickstarter darlings that took the Internet by storm. The campaign blasted past its funding and stretch goals alongside other spiritual successor Kickstarters projects such as Mighty No. 9 and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Playtonic promised plenty of extras for Yooka-Laylee, including DLC, a Wii U release (that was ditched in favor of the Nintendo Switch), and a shader that would make the game look like a proper Nintendo 64 game.
When I say the shader — called a “64-Bit” tonic by the Playtonic staff — is supposed to make Yooka-Laylee emulate the look of an N64 game, I don’t mean it would use the “put googly eyes on something and call it an enemy” art style from Banjo-Kazooie (that would be redundant since Yooka-Laylee already uses that art style). I mean the shader would wash out the game’s colors, blur the textures, and make everything look fuzzy as if it were being viewed on an old CRTV, i.e., how games actually looked on the N64. While Playtonic doesn’t have a projected date for the feature’s release, it did post an image of tonic’s effect:
While the image is a work-in-progress, it does live up to its name and makes Yooka-Laylee truly look like a 64-bit game. Well, almost. The polygon count is way higher than was ever possible in an N64 game, but that tiny niggle can’t be fixed without remaking every game asset from scratch. Or maybe that’s exactly what Playtonic is doing, which might explain why it’s taking the company so long to work on a shader. Still, the effect doesn’t look half-bad and has awoken the inner child in me. I have the sudden urge to dig out my old, dusty Nintendo 64 and play some Super Mario 64.
While the release of the 64-Bit tonic/shader is a long way off, rest assured Playtonic is working hard on the feature. In the meantime, Yooka-Laylee is currently 25% off on the Nintendo eShop if you haven’t picked it up yet.