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Artix
Apr 26, 2010

He's finally back,
to kick some tail!
And this time,
he's goin' to jail!




Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is a 2D Platformer released on October 8th, 2019 by Playtonic Games and Team17. The sophomore effort from Playtonic takes Yooka and Laylee in a decidedly different direction from their 3D debut by ripping off Donkey Kong Country instead of Banjo-Kazooie, and the end result is a significantly improved game for a variety of reasons. The levels are much more straightforward, the platforming is tight, the music is phenomenal, and just generally the game is a lot of fun to play.

The main gimmick of the game is the titular "Impossible Lair", a grueling 15 minute platforming marathon with no checkpoints accessible at any time during the game. As you clear levels, you will unlock "Beetalion" members which act as a shield in the Lair itself - each bee gives you an additional hit before you lose Laylee and the game is balanced around you having ~25-30 bees before you have a realistic chance of beating the game. I actually like the system a lot, it's the most prominent (but by no means only) aspect of the game's "select your own difficulty" options.

Now, with all that said, at some point we have to address the 800 pound gorilla in the room. In much the same way that Yooka-Laylee really wanted to be Banjo-Kazooie, The Impossible Lair wishes with all its heart that it was Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. The physics are a little closer to Rare's DKC games, but the look, feel, and design is taken straight from Retro's efforts, and that is not a bad thing by any means! It is so blatant, in fact, that studio head Gavin Price did an interview at E3 2019 basically begging people not to compare their game to Tropical Freeze - in his own words, "Tropical Freeze has more budget in their opening cutscene than we do for our entire game." And in a vacuum, that's a totally fair statement. Judged on its own merits, The Impossible Lair is a fine (if not exceptional) platformer in a market that hasn't seen a major blockbuster since what, Rayman Legends?

Unfortunately, we do not live in a vacuum. The comparisons were obvious from the very first trailer, and playing the game almost encourages them, so we might as well get them out of the way now. This is not the next Tropical Freeze - it's a $30 indie game, and it shows on several levels. While it looks and runs very well (even on the Switch, which is where I'm playing it!), there are numerous places where the game is missing that little something extra: a playful idle animation, that perfect level flow, or a secret hiding just out of sight and you missed where the wall opens up. The little things that take you from an 8 to a 10 just aren't there, and that's fine! But if you're looking for the next platforming masterpiece, to dethrone Nintendo at their own game... Well, this ain't it. Being runner-up to the one of the best platformers of the decade isn't exactly a scathing takedown so that's all I'm going to say on the matter.

Wow Artix, that all sounds really familiar!

You're right! This is a redo of the thread from last year, as we finish up the back half of the game. The new videos will be picking up with the Lake area, which is roughly analogous to World 5-ish? We're just over the halfway mark, is the point. As for the game itself, it's gotten one major update in the form of the "Not-So-Impossible Lair", an updated version of the final level that add checkpoints and other niceties to make the 15 minute marathon more achievable. We will probably not be doing that version, but we'll see! After all the DKC Kaizo I'm probably just going to brute force my way through the original version.

The first ten videos contain a variety of my usual stable of folks, but starting from video 11 things will...simplify a bit. We'll be dropping the aesthetic tonics (because most of them are awful, and either make the video hard to watch or the level hard to play), and I'll be primarily joined by my trusty platforming companion, FPzero. Updates will be posted on Wednesdays, along with a weekend here and there if I'm feeling spicy.

SPOILERS

I don't know how you would even begin to spoil this game, tbh. Capital B is the final boss and Trowzer deserves everything that's coming to him. I guess try not to talk about levels we haven't seen yet? Some of the level gimmicks are pretty cool, but we aren't exactly here for the gripping plot.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Capital Causeway, Factory Fright
Part 2: Wild Web Woods, Frantic Fountains, Frantic Fountains [Frozen]
Part 3: Gasping Glade, Factory Fright [Flooded]
Part 4: Wild Web Woods [Wilder], Gasping Glade [Grown]
Part 5: Sawblade Evade, Production Path
Part 6: Windmill Way, Sawblade Evade [Stuck]
Part 7: Production Path [Panic], Windmill Way [Windy], The Impossible Lair
Part 8: Urban Uprise, Conveyor Chaos
Part 9: Ropeburn Ridge, Ropeburn Ridge [Rerouted]
Part 10: Urban Uprise [Updraft], Conveyor Chaos [Crosswire]
Part 11: Buzzsaw Falls, Cliffside Quest
Part 12: Hazard Hanger, Hazard Hanger [Hung]
Part 13: Cliffside Quest [Cold], Buzzsaw Falls [Frozen]
Part 14: Turbine Trouble
Part 15: Capital Causeway [Chaos], Queasy Quay, Boom-Bloom Blast
Part 16: Turbine Trouble [Tidal], Queasy Quay [Climb], Boom-Bloom Blast [Breakthrough]
Part 17: Scareship Shootout
Part 18: Pumping Plant, Scareship Scroll
Part 19: Pumping Plant [Powered], Scareship Shootout [Smoggy]

Artix fucked around with this message at 22:27 on Jul 28, 2021

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Artix
Apr 26, 2010

He's finally back,
to kick some tail!
And this time,
he's goin' to jail!


Part 11: Lakeside Levels (Buzzsaw Falls, Cliffside Quest)

Buzzsaw Falls - Matt Griffin
Cliffside Quest - Matt Griffin

We're back! Gonna take some time to clean up some old projects, starting with this one. Cliffside Quest is a neat little level with multiple distinct areas, although admittedly most of them are short and they don't really connect on a design or thematic level. Buzzsaw Falls, on the other hand, is just some good old-fashioned left-to-right with a healthy dose of...well, buzzsaws.

Shei-kun
Dec 2, 2011

Screw you, physics!


Hell yeah!

I'm super excited to see the rest of this game, especially now that you can compare it to the romhacks you played in the meantime.

Geemer
Nov 4, 2010




I was kinda down on the tonics in this game, especially when other low budget games did the same idea a lot better before, but I was still kinda sad to see the LP peter out.
Nice to see it make a comeback!

Kibayasu
Mar 28, 2010



A nice comfortable level for a nice comfortable restart.

Artix
Apr 26, 2010

He's finally back,
to kick some tail!
And this time,
he's goin' to jail!


Part 12: An Organic Conundrum (Hazard Hanger, Hazard Hanger [Hung])

Hazard Hanger - Dan Murdoch
Hazard Hanger (Hung) - Dan Murdoch

Hazard Hanger (which is more of a factory level, really) is a lot harder than you'd expect given the two levels it's grouped with on the overworld. Both variations feature a lot of instant death pits and crushers, and the missile section at the end of both levels is pretty brutal, especially in the altered state.

Blaze Dragon
Aug 28, 2013
LOWTAX'S SPINE FUND



Those tracking missiles felt a bit too strong. They really should've had slower turns.

Kibayasu
Mar 28, 2010



Blaze Dragon posted:

Those tracking missiles felt a bit too strong. They really should've had slower turns.

They do feel like a classic enemy cranked up a notch or two more than they should be. Like was pointed out if you don't have Laylee then they missiles can be the only way to break some boxes but they turn way too well for that to be reliable so welp, restart.

Artix
Apr 26, 2010

He's finally back,
to kick some tail!
And this time,
he's goin' to jail!


Part 13: Sliding Puzzles (Cliffside Quest [Cold], Buzzsaw Falls [Frozen])

Cliffside Quest (Cold) - Matt Griffin
Buzzsaw Falls (Frozen) - Matt Griffin

Unsurprisingly, a pair of water levels become a pair of ice levels. Neither is frankly all that interesting, although Cliffside Quest is still notable for its structure, I guess.

Geemer
Nov 4, 2010




These levels felt very unfocused. The ice seemed like more of a visual thing than a mechanic and the 2nd one kept on going and going.
I think that lack of focus really makes this game being made by Old Rare so weird for me, the DKC levels were all much more focused on their one little thing.

evilmiera
Dec 14, 2009

Status:Perpetually fearful

On a different note, Playtonic are now making a boardgame based on Yooka Laylee. I guess their next step is just a text adventure at this rate.

Artix
Apr 26, 2010

He's finally back,
to kick some tail!
And this time,
he's goin' to jail!


Part 14: Beachside Bonanza (Turbine Trouble)

Turbine Trouble - Dan Murdoch

Despite the best efforts of Mother Nature to kill me and the rest of the west coast, I am still here. Your disappointment must be immeasurable.

Anyway, today we're going to the beach, which is an activity that sounds absolutely miserable after the weekend's 110 degree heat wave. Yooka and Laylee are a bit more enthusiastic though, as we tackle an entire world's worth of secrets crammed into a single screen, and even manage to ruin a man's 58 year investment for no reason other than that we can.

Blaze Dragon
Aug 28, 2013
LOWTAX'S SPINE FUND



In this video, our heroes:
-Push an innocent person off a tower, which will not only assuredly kill him, it also puts him face to face with his greatest fear, books.
-Destroy another innocent person's house, which he still has 52 years of mortgage to pay for.

I hope it was worth it, you monsters.

Artix
Apr 26, 2010

He's finally back,
to kick some tail!
And this time,
he's goin' to jail!


Part 15: Gone Fishin' (Capital Causeway [Chaos], Queasy Quay, Boom-Bloom Blast)

Capital Causeway (Chaos) - Matt Griffin
Queasy Quay - Matt Griffin
Boom-Bloom Blast - Matt Griffin

Before we tackle the rest of the beach, we're going to take a moment and go backwards. I'm not entirely sure what causes the fisherman to spawn, but since he's here we might as well polish off the first level. It's...pretty rough, not gonna lie.

evilmiera
Dec 14, 2009

Status:Perpetually fearful

I love water levels in this game, no matter the chapter.

As for what causes that guy to spawn, you run into him somewhere in that area with all the crabs and sand houses I think, and you inform him about where he left his missing pole (which is at the platform near the first chapter. Gotta say, going from an area heavy in fish and crabs to an area with what looks like a sewage outlet doesn't look like a good trade for him).

LiefKatano
Aug 31, 2018

I swear, by my sword and capote, that I will once again prove victorious!!


Per Google, a quay is "a concrete, stone, or metal platform lying alongside or projecting into water for loading and unloading ships."

So Queasy Quay is decidedly neither queasy nor a quay. C'mon, level namers, you can do better than this!

(Krem Quay is most likely not a quay either, unless you stretch the definition to include the wooden platforms (that are only in the GBA version?), though it is at least very krem.)

Kibayasu
Mar 28, 2010



Secrets like the rope pulling are great secrets to watch

Artix
Apr 26, 2010

He's finally back,
to kick some tail!
And this time,
he's goin' to jail!


Part 16: Trowzer's Big Barbeque (Turbine Trouble [Tidal], Queasy Quay [Climb], Boom-Bloom Blast [Breakthrough])

Turbine Trouble (Tidal) - Matt Griffin
Queasy Quay (Climb) - Matt Griffin
Boom-Bloom Blast (Breakthrough) - Matt Griffin

After a full game of putting up with Trowzer's poo poo, we finally get one over on him. Or technically I guess he gets one over on himself? It's a big own goal, for sure.

Artix fucked around with this message at 00:42 on Jul 15, 2021

LiefKatano
Aug 31, 2018

I swear, by my sword and capote, that I will once again prove victorious!!


FPZero kinda touched on this in the video but the amount of times the game decides to reward you with quills even for high-effort tasks seems... really annoying.

Both because quills don't really have any value (you can get, what, completely aesthetic tonics with them? sometimes you can buy hints with them but those put even less of a dent in your quills; if you made those free what would that change?) and because you aren't even guaranteed to have the full value of the reward (as seen with the constant 80% multiplier :U).

Mraagvpeine
Nov 4, 2014

I won this avatar on a technicality this thick.

He could add another tonic that would cancel out the 80% multiplier.

Kibayasu
Mar 28, 2010



The levels weren't really designed for it but I can't help but think of Rayman Legends where collecting various things that weren't in secret areas were actually just various tests of dexterity. Lumens weren't some vague currency to buy vague things but how precise you were in your jumps and timing. There was a point to everyone but especially a point to the large lines of them. Hardly the first game to do that of course.

Black Mage Knight
Jan 25, 2012

stop biting my cape

The quills more than anything else just highlight the issues with the whole tonic system.

The tonics are largely just aesthetic things you never wanna use, or modifiers that change difficulty slightly around. The quills only really exist for the tonics which themselves aren't really that great and alongside that are usually lowered by the tonics you wanna use to give nice gameplay features, resulting in it always reminding you that you are getting less than you should. So it is all just one big loop for something not really that interesting, and if you wanna use the interesting ones makes it feel like it punishes you for doing so (even if the lowered multiplier means nothing because of how quills kinda themselves mean little anyways.)

If they were used for more than just tonic stuff then they would have something more meaningful to them, but instead while they are okay as a thing to grab mid level (they lack the sort of sound design that makes the bananas so nice to grab in the DKC's) they just only work towards something you quickly lose interest in.

Also doesn't help that Vendi is like the most horrifying NPC to look at and is the most tied to the tonic system.

Blaze Dragon
Aug 28, 2013
LOWTAX'S SPINE FUND



That vertical level looked fun.

Also fun: burning down Trowzer's house. Definitely a far better act than the time Yooka and Laylee destroyed that poor shopping cart's house.

Artix
Apr 26, 2010

He's finally back,
to kick some tail!
And this time,
he's goin' to jail!


Part 17: The Tragedy of Crates (Scareship Shootout)

Scareship Shootout - Matt Griffin

From one atrocity to another, Yooka simply cannot be stopped. What started with a small taste of arson has bloomed into outright murder as the duo terrorize their way through the final overworld.

Blaze Dragon
Aug 28, 2013
LOWTAX'S SPINE FUND



It's kind of hard to not agree with the box that refused to be moved when Yooka killed Frank for no reason other than guilt trip him into pressing that button.

evilmiera
Dec 14, 2009

Status:Perpetually fearful

Artix posted:

Part 17: The Tragedy of Crates (Scareship Shootout)

Scareship Shootout - Matt Griffin

From one atrocity to another, Yooka simply cannot be stopped. What started with a small taste of arson has bloomed into outright murder as the duo terrorize their way through the final overworld.

There's a real Sam and Max vibe going on with Yooka and Laylee, where they are basically massive dangers to everyplace they go and are sometimes worse than the issue they are trying to solve.

Black Mage Knight
Jan 25, 2012

stop biting my cape

It isn't as bad as it was in YL proper, but the amount of jokes that are just "Yooka and Laylee are horrible assholes" is still kinda offputting to me.

Precambrian
Apr 30, 2008



Black Mage Knight posted:

It isn't as bad as it was in YL proper, but the amount of jokes that are just "Yooka and Laylee are horrible assholes" is still kinda offputting to me.

It was always a factor in Banjo Kazooie—you keep stomping on Gobi and you accidentally murder an ice cube in Tooie, but it had a different impact because you have so much cute platforming building it up beforehand. Like, yeah, B+K are assholes to Gobi, but you meet Gobi several levels in after you help a chimp and a hippo pirate and the jinjos and other stuff that make B+K come off as nice. Y+L feel like the team felt they could leverage their reputation and be a little less cutesy in their approach, only for the players to find the characters as off-putting jerks.

Artix
Apr 26, 2010

He's finally back,
to kick some tail!
And this time,
he's goin' to jail!


Part 18: It's SORT OF Like a Mine Cart... (Pumping Plant, Scareship Scroll)

Pumping Plant - Matt Griffin
Scareship Scroll - David Wise

Finally, on the literal last level of the game, we have an autoscroller. You'd think that they would have done something like the rocket barrels, or even a minecart! But no, this is all we get, and I suppose if Yooka-Laylee is anything to go by we should be glad we didn't get one. Also it's been forever since we heard a David Wise track! It's appropriately great.

Blaze Dragon
Aug 28, 2013
LOWTAX'S SPINE FUND



Breaking crates really feels a lot more messed up now that we know crates are alive and sentient, huh? Yooka's killcount is enormous.

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Artix
Apr 26, 2010

He's finally back,
to kick some tail!
And this time,
he's goin' to jail!


Part 19: Cloudy With a Chance of Lasers (Pumping Plant [Powered], Scareship Shootout [Smoggy])

Pumping Plant (Powered) - Dan Murdoch
Scareship Shootout (Smoggy) - Matt Griffin

We're almost home! One last set of altered levels and we can put Capital B in the rear-view mirror. Pumping Plant is a lot of fun for being the game's like, fifth factory level with not much differentiating it, and Scareship Shootout sure exists, I guess.

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