Review – Yooka-Laylee

NOTE: This game is available on PC, PS4 and XBox One, and a Switch version is incoming. For the purposes of this review, I played the PS4 version of the game.

If you haven’t heard somehow, Yooka-Laylee is the work of Playtonic Games, a group of developers made up of former members of Rare, the developers responsible for games such as Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark. This game began its life as a kickstarter campagin, and it was billed as a revival of Rare’s work on the Nintendo 64 with fantastic platformers such as Banjo-Kazooie and its sequel, Banjo-Tooie.

For much of its opening hours, Yooka-Laylee actually does recapture a lot of the great things about those games. I got butterflies in my stomach while discovering its many quirky characters and worlds, as well as compulsively collecting the game’s collectibles. However, along the way, the game doesn’t just hit snags–it totally derails. One moment you’re dazzled by how fun this game is, and the next you are cursing it to hell and back. This cycle repeats itself from front to back in Yooka-Laylee.

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Review – Persona 5

Well, this sure took a long while! Persona 5 is an absolutely gargantuan game, and it took me dozens upon dozens of hours to fully form my opinion on it, especially since it’s my first Persona game. This game is available on both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. For this review, I played through the PS4 version. 

Ah, high school. Remember that? The drama between teachers and students, trying to cram studying somewhere in between your daily activities, gossiping about the popular kids and… An epic struggle against the dark recesses of the human psyche? Welcome to Persona.

Persona 5 is the long overdue next entry in Atlus’s Persona series, released around 8 years after the release of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 on Sony’s PlayStation 2 system. As my first taste of the Persona sub-series of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, my best way of describing Persona 5 is as a genre-bending JPRG that mixes in aspects of a visual novel, social sim and Pokémon style monster collecting (Although it’s worth noting that Shin Megami Tensei did it first, before Pokémon became a worldwide phenomenon).

Light to mild spoilers will follow in this review.

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Review – Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart should be a game series that needs no introduction. From the early days of Super Mario Kart to the online chaos of Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7, this series has been one of Nintendo’s strongest multiplayer franchises. By many standards, Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U was the definitive entry into this series, providing a diverse number of courses and online gameplay options.

To this day, I’ve dumped around 200 hours into the Wii U version of Mario Kart 8. It’s just that fun to play. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the enhanced port of the game to the Nintendo Switch, manages to make me fall in love all over again.

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Replay Review – Conker’s Bad Fur Day

So, now that I took a look at Rare’s first 3D platformer on the Nintendo 64, Banjo-Kazooie, I also want to take a look at their last (and best), Conker’s Bad Fur Day. Beginning life as yet another cutesy collectathon platformer on a console flooded with them, the similarities to previous titles such as Banjo and Donkey Kong 64 prompted the developers to rework the game to make it something more unique. In doing so, you could say they went a little overboard.

What was once a kid-friendly, cartoony game became a raunchy romp, filled to the brim with sex, violence and poop jokes. But aside from the aesthetic change to an M-rated adventure, Conker is also the purest distillation of the Rare formula. It is the magnum opus of their platformers, bringing forth the highest quality of levels, mechanics and characters that we would ever see from Rare, even to this day.

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Replay Review – Banjo-Kazooie

Before playing the much hyped Yooka-Laylee, I always planned on replaying the classic platformer, Banjo-Kazooie. Released smack in the middle of Rare’s legendary run of games released in the mid-to-late 90s, this game was Rare’s first dip into 3D platformers. After Rare’s initial success with the Donkey Kong Country franchise, their core team began work on a brand new IP for the SNES. Not long after, their ambitions warranted a move over to the new Nintendo 64 system.

However, after Super Mario 64 totally changed the playing field for platformers, Rare was forced to reconsider the direction of their game, and eventually transformed the it into what is now Banjo-Kazooie. While it does indeed owe a lot to Mario 64Banjo-Kazooie goes so ridiculously far above and beyond in some aspects that it truly deserves to be remembered the way it is 20 years later.

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Review – Snake Pass

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NOTE: This game is available for all major platforms. For the purposes of this review, I played through the Nintendo Switch version. 

This year, all of the attention for the neo-collectathon-platformer has been aimed at one game: Yooka-Laylee. But with all of this, it’s easy to forget that the genre didn’t disappear off the face of the planet, and other platformers do pop up from time to time. Some even dare to try new things, to the point where they can even be considered experimental.

Snake Pass, the latest game from the developers partly responsible for Little Big Planet 3 and the slightly under-appreciated Sonic & Sega All-Stars series of racers, is just that. This is a game that has one foot firmly planted in the genre’s roots in collecting items and making precise button inputs, but has the other foot in experimenting with new game mechanics and control schemes. Snake Pass is as inventive and creative as it is charming.

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Review – Super Bomberman R

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After a long lull, the white bomber is back! The last time we saw him, Bomberman was gracing consoles with fun entries in the series that focused on delivering thrilling multiplayer experiences. Now, he’s back on the Nintendo Switch with a brand new, entry that tests the Switch’s capabilities as a portable multiplayer gaming device. However, it also touts a full single player campaign that calls back to the says of the old Super Bomberman series on the SNES. So, is this a blast, or is it a dud?

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