Any gamer who held a controller in their hands during the last half of the 90s knows how big 3D platformers were. From Super Mario 64 and Spyro the Dragon to Crash Bandicoot and Donkey Kong 64, this genre dominated the era when 3D games were still new.
Along with the aforementioned games, there were two unique and amazing titles made by acclaimed developer Rare: Banjo-Kazooie and its sequel, Banjo-Tooie.
These games, featuring a bear and bird duo, are still regarded as two of the best 3D platformers of all time. Despite the popularity and success of this short series, we wouldn’t see another console Banjo-Kazooie game until 2008, with the release of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts.
Although receiving good reviews and selling well, it was enough of a departure from the original series that most fans were left craving what the first two games offered.
Fast forward to early 2015, and you’ll find a revival of excitement toward what could be the “Banjo-esque” adventure we’ve been waiting for.
Made up of several veteran Rare employees who worked not only on the N64 games, but also classics like Donkey Kong Country, PlayTonic Games revealed their plans to create a spiritual successor for the Banjo-Kazooie games: “Project Ukelele”.
It wasn’t until the end of April that Yooka-Laylee was finally unveiled, including its two titular characters. Just like with Banjo-Kazooie, this new project will have two characters that work together but can also separate: Yooka the chameleon and Laylee the bat.
A few revealed screenshots also depict a rich and colorful world similar to the lands our favorite bear and bird duo explored nearly twenty years ago.
When Playtonic games launched their Kickstarter in May to fund this inspiring new title, few were surprised to see it hit its goal in less than an hour. Not only that, it raised more than $1 million in just under six hours, making it the fastest funded game to reach that point in Kickstarter history.
With more than a month still to go as of this writing, the campaign can expect to rake in more than $2 million before the end.
What’s To Come?
While fans place their cash in the trusted hands of veteran developers, Rare prepares for a surprise reveal this coming E3. It will be interesting to see how the industry reacts if the reveal is a new Banjo-Kazooie game; especially since Rare has yet to make any memorable titles since being purchased by Microsoft in 2002.
Despite the strong relationship between many Playtonic and Rare developers, it will no doubt be a battle to see who can cater to the nostalgic 3D platformer fans in the coming year.
Whether you think Yooka-Laylee will deliver the superior experience, or are hoping Rare return to their roots, it’s a good time to be a fan of this genre.
With first-person shooters, MMOs, and other types of games dominating the market for the last decade or more, it will be nice to get a fresh and exciting taste of the genre that helped usher the entire industry into the 3D era.