Read Stuart’s column every week in The Scottish Sun, where he shares his reviews, news and podcasts with the 99.3% of the World’s population not fortunate enough to be able to buy a physical copy of the paper. The following appeared originally in The Scottish Sun on Sunday 9th April 2017.
Yooka-Laylee (Xbox One,PS4, Switch, PC £28.99)
WE all love a blast from the past and Yooka-Laylee is a retro treat. It comes from Playtronic Games, who are now made up of many of the Rare guys and girls who brought us Bad Fur Day and the Banjo- Kazooie series. It is fair to say that 3D platformers went through a bit of a lull in recent years, but Yooka-Laylee puts that right in quite some style. It started life as a public funding project but soon became one of the most backed games in Kickstarter history and is now a gaming reality. It is like stepping back in time. The main characters are an unlikely pair of friends — Yooka the chameleon and a bat called Laylee. It’s classic cartoon fun and a game filled with wonder and charm.
The game kicks off with the big bad Capital B and his right-hand man Dr Quack stealing all the books in the land, including Yooka and Laylee’s magic book. It’s your job to get back all the magic pages — which are called Pagies for some reason. There are five themed worlds which stick to the classic template — ice, fire . . . you get the drift. Each one has a number of pages to recover via different tasks like finding collectables to completing races or playing golf. As you play you can buy and unlock new moves for the pair which will help you complete a world. There is a good mix of puzzles and, as you complete each world, you can unlock even more content. The core story will clock in between 20 and 25 hour mark.
You’ll meet a vast cast of characters on your journey and they add a large slice of the game’s humour to the plot. It all gets a bit pun heavy at times but you can see the bloodline from the team’s Banjo-Kazooie days. The graphics have a lovely chunky look and feel and the game is bursting with colour. Each character has real charm. Throw in a soundtrack that will thrill any Banjo-Kazooie fan and it is a winning combination.
The biggest issue is the camera. At times it borders on making you yank tufts of hair out as it just loses the plot and locks in place. But we should remember this is a pre-launch copy so a patch could easily fix this along with a number of minor technical niggles. If you are a 3D platforming fan then Yooka-Laylee will make you smile. It brings a classic style of gaming back to life. The platforming masters are back.
Rogue Stormers (Xbox One, PS4, PC £19.99)
IT has been a painful birth but Rogue Stormers is a brilliant child. It started life with Spellbound Entertainment but they went into administration. German studio Black Forest Games picked up the baton and saved it. The result is a fantasy action shooter a little like Contra but set in a sci-fi/magic world where you have to kill everything that moves. Simple.
You play an insane hero trying to save the city as the world is powered by a mysterious black goo that is turning the people nasty. You have to fight off hordes of orcs and goblins as you head for the final boss over seven levels, but beware, you will die . . . a LOT. Then you lose all your power-ups and weapons. You do keep any perks you unlock but you’ll need to start it all over again. That might sound like a chore but it is actually good fun as everything is randomly generated so no two levels are ever the same. There are also a number of characters to unlock and each one has its own style and weapons.
The main game easily lasts 10-15 hours and it is all fast-paced as you jump and jet-pack your way around trying to find the level boss — and they are quite a challenge. The couch co-op and online multiplayer is also great fun. The graphics are bursting with detail and colour and it never misses a beat even with lots of enemies rushing you. The only bugbear was when the randomly generated level handed you a tough draw, but replay it and you could have a right laugh.
Moto Racer 4 (Xbox One, PS4, PC, £14.99)
PURE arcade two-wheeled fun — what’s not to like? And if Moto Racer 4 did what it said on the tin then it would be a winner, but . . . you are doing well if you last the distance. There are good points. The French studio Anuman has created a fast and frantic title. For the first few hours it is great fun as you switch from racing to off-road machines over a good mix of tracks.
The career mode is a good length and you have to complete it to unlock all the toys. And the career mode lets you choose what race you want which is a nice addition and it stops the gameplay getting stale. But it starts to fall down with the difficulty selection. If you pick a one-star option but manage to get the three-star requirement, it still only gives you one star. That stinks of trying to add extra length to the game. On top of that the AI is brutally tough. The game has some of the worst rubber banding I’ve seen in a racer for a long time. But the multiplayer is fun and shows just how good the game could have been as you bash, race and stunt you way to a win.
The graphics are OK and there are some neat details like the boost trails coming off your bike. The soundtrack is OK too. It’s all a shame because there is a great game trying to break out.
On The Upload
THEY may be new kids on the YouTube block but Christian Vaz and Emma Matthews are old hangs in the gaming world. The dynamic duo are freelance writers for a number of sites, but decided to launch the Erased Citizens channel in January — and eventually hope to make it a full-time labour of love.
It produces quality informal videos on everything from detailed features to early impressions on new titles. They said:
“It’s early days yet, but we hope eventually to move away from freelance work and focus on the channel full-time.”
I’ll be back next week with more from North of the Border, catch ye’s…