Yooka-LayleeSo many great pursuits have begun by being humble enough to look at what has come before and take inspiration from it. So many great failures are the result of being too prideful to accept the teachings that history offers us. This holds true for many video games as well. Let's discuss Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair!

Inspiration from the Past

Kobe Bryant, for example, (the second-best NBA player of all time, fight me), who lifted much of his skill set directly from the great Michael Jordan. I knew this before the recent One Last Dance docuseries briefly spotlighted Kobe and Michael’s relationship, as I was an ardent fan and follower of Bryant’s during the latter half of his career. Unfortunately, I cared little for real sports over the course of my teenage years. That probably had something to do with the distraction that comes from having five-game consoles stacked on top of one another in my room.

In the world of video games as well, looking to the past has opened an immense door to the future. Indie games have exploded in popularity over this past decade.

And it’s games like Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair that are prime examples.

Yooka-Laylee Games Compared

Where its predecessor, Yooka-Laylee, was modeled after Banjo Kazooie of N64 fame (one of my all-time favorites), the Impossible Lair, TIL, sequel is a spiritual successor to another beloved 90s platformer: Donkey Kong Country. Playtonic Games got off to a slow start with the original Yooka-Laylee. I found it to be a bit clunky and stiff. With TIL, they’ve hit their stride.


Much like the Donkey Kong Country trilogy from the Super Nintendo, TIL is a side-scrolling platform. It plays fluidly and offers a bevy of unlocks, secrets, and collectibles to track down. Unlike Donkey Kong Country though, Playtonic doesn’t limit you to exploring only within individual levels. They slapped a fully-explorable overworld map on top. It serves as the pliable connective tissue to the many maps you’ll roll, flip, and fight your way through.

This is in stark contract to Donkey Kong Country’s incredibly simplistic and linear overworld map, that served only as a visual reference to the larger world of each level’s area.

Another new element that TIL adds is its own namesake: The Impossible Lair.

The Impossible Lair

TIL actually gives you the chance to beat the game before you even set foot in a normal level. When the game opens, you’re given the opportunity to hunt down your nemesis, Capital Bee, right from the jump, simply by braving the test of the Impossible Lair.

You won’t beat it when the game beings. And frankly, I still haven’t beaten it even after collecting nearly all the 48 bee companions that you’re awarded for completing stages or through select secret paths. The Impossible Lair is hard, and so hard in fact that Playtonic recently released an update that allows you to restart from certain checkpoints. It’s a 20+ minute gauntlet that requires super timing and immense patience. And even when you’re just about as technically proficient as you can be, the Impossible Lair still might defeat you.

Bee companions grant you one additional hit in the lair, and you’re going to take a mighty amount of them. So, get to exploring all those levels we just talked about. And expect to spend a good amount of time doing it because you’ll easily rack up 10+ hours of bee collecting before you’ll even want to stomach another run through the Impossible Lair.

Yooka-Laylee and the Features


The overworld of TIL is a nice bonus but presents little challenge. The 40 levels contained therein don’t offer many challenges. That is until you’re really trying to nab all five of the TWIT coins found in each level. TWIT coins must be collected in order to bribe Trowzer. A sassy snake who serves as the controller of numerous gates that block your advance. However, you won’t need very many TWIT coins to advance to new sections of the map. There is a secret unlocked by collecting all 200 TWIT coins – again, by dumping them on Trowzer’s…trousers.

The imbalance of challenges between the core experience and the test of the lair is perhaps its greatest flaw. But there aren’t many to pick at beyond that. TIL may do little to test you outside of the Impossible Lair itself. Where it does, you’ll have an old-school blast platforming your way around its colorful levels.

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair is available on all major platforms. It is a pretty reasonable addition to your indie collection at a mere $30.


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