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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. :v:

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.

:siren: SPOILERS :siren:

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.

:siren: Table of Contents :siren:

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]
Part 20: Scareship Scroll [Docked]
Part 21: The Impossible Lair

Artix fucked around with this message at 22:01 on Aug 11, 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!


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

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.

Artix
Apr 26, 2010

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


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

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.

Artix
Apr 26, 2010

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


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

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.

Artix
Apr 26, 2010

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


:siren: Part 14: Beachside Bonanza (Turbine Trouble) :siren:

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.

Artix
Apr 26, 2010

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


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

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.

Artix
Apr 26, 2010

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


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

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

Artix
Apr 26, 2010

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


:siren: Part 17: The Tragedy of Crates (Scareship Shootout) :siren:

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.

Artix
Apr 26, 2010

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


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

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.

Artix
Apr 26, 2010

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


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

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.

Artix
Apr 26, 2010

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


:siren: Part 20: The Final Puzzle Tower (Scareship Scroll [Docked]) :siren:

Scareship Scroll (Docked) - Dan Murdoch
Scareship Scroll (Airship) - Dan Murdoch

After one more misadventure with boxes and platforming, we come to the final level and it's...just a regular level. The gimmick has been surgically removed, and in all honesty? I like it better than the scrolling version, especially once the airship part begins. Don't go anywhere, the finale is up next!

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Artix
Apr 26, 2010

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


:siren: Part 21: Capital B's Kaizo Carnival (The Impossible Lair) :siren:

The Impossible Lair, Part 1 - David Wise
The Impossible Lair, Part 2 - David Wise
The Impossible Lair, Part 3 - David Wise
Vs. Capital B - David Wise

And here we are, at the final confrontation. The Impossible Lair is...well, it's A Lot™. Each of the four individual sections are fine, if a bit more difficult than the game has really prepared you for prior to this point. And hell, if you really want to drive home that this is the grand finale and you're pulling out all the stops, then doing maybe two of them back to back is a good call. But this? This is too much. Too many fights, too many sections, too much everything on an extremely limited health pool. I'm honestly not even sure what the "not so impossible lair" changes, because there's a lot of ways that it could have tweaked things to make this a lot more doable and save this experience for the "real" Impossible Lair (giving some bees back between sections, removing boss fights against Capital B, cutting section 2 or 3, checkpoints before *and* after boss fights, etc etc). But alas, this is what we got. Make of it what you will, I suppose.

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