Yooka-Laylee made an appearance at E3 this week with a playable ‘toybox demo,’ described as “a spoiler-free environment to get a feel for the game.”
Yooka-Laylee is the spiritual successor to the collect-a-thon platformers which developer Rareware (now known as Rare) pioneered in the Nintendo 64 era. Ex-Rare employees formed a new company, Playtonic Games, and responded to the fan demand for a new platformer in the same vein. A Kickstarter for a new IP featuring a sensible male chameleon, Yooka, and a “slightly crazy” female bat, Laylee, raised almost $3 million.
“We were constantly asked, ‘Where’s the next platformer? Where’s Banjo [Kazooie] 3?’” composer Grant Kirkhope told IGN. “We knew there was a market for it.”
Lead character artist Chris Sutherland also detailed how the game will include a great cast of amazing characters, specifically Yooka and Laylee.
“Banjo Kazooie was all about the two characters working together,” Sutherland explained. “We wanted to give equal prominence to both lead characters.”
The combination of a chameleon and a bat were chosen due to the interesting natural abilities of both species. Playtonic Games wanted to highlight the gameplay applications of a chameleon’s tongue and camouflage, as well as a bat’s ears and ability of flight. Yooka and Laylee achieve their platforming prowess by using the natural abilities of one another, in addition to exotic effects such as becoming electrically charged or ‘fire-y’.
The toybox demo included a large space to test Yooka-Laylee’s platforming mechanics, the game camera, as well as the unique moves that the titular characters combine to use. Cartoony colors and landscapes fill the game, as well as the interconnected melodies you hear as you travel from area to area–another staple Grant Kirkhope borrowed from his work on Banjo Kazooie.
Playtonic said the purpose of the toybox demo was payback for their gratitude towards their Kickstarter backers. Lastly, they’ve included 100 feathers to collect in the demo–something that should entice the fans of collectibles.
“In the 90s, platformers were the biggest genre, now we’re the odd man out,” mused Kirkhope. “We love making [these games] and we love playing them.”
Yooka-Laylee is slated to release in the first quarter of 2017 on PC, PS4, WiiU, and Xbox One.