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I’ll be honest, I was a little skeptical when I first heard about Yooka-Laylee. I wondered if my affinity for 3D platformers was a thing of the past and maybe I wouldn’t appreciate it. Not to mention, hearing this was to be a “Banjo-Kazooie spiritual successor?” What big paws to fill! However, after getting my hands on Yooka-Laylee, I realized my doubts and skepticism were just…silly. Yooka-Laylee is a fun, entertaining experience with a sense of humor I can’t get enough of. It’s witty, charming, and most importantly; the gameplay is a love letter to the open-world-3D-platforming genre many of us grew up on.

Without a doubt, Yooka-Laylee plays like a true Banjo-Kazooie spiritual successor through and through. From the voice acting to its platforming and puzzles, I’m confident Yooka-Laylee will make a lot of Banjo fans happy.  That’s not to say this game is dated or an exact replica of Banjo-Kazooie. Yooka-Laylee manages to have its own identity because of its new likable characters and story, along with a few twists on familiar mechanics that make the gameplay feel fresh.

For example, much like Banjo-Kazooie where we had to fetch puzzle pieces or “jiggies,” Yooka-Laylee is similar in that way because we now fetch book pages called “pagies.” Much like the jiggies, pagies are needed to progress to different levels but they can also be used to expand levels, to make them bigger and add more content. I tried this as soon as I had enough pagies and was pleasantly surprised with how much more content was added to the level. Not only was the terrain extended with bigger mountains and pathways leading to more areas, but more mini-games and character side missions were added as well. A single level’s open world became even more open and I found myself just wandering around in it, enjoying myself as I discovered more things to do.

Another reason Banjo and old school 3D platformer fans will enjoy this game is it’s notable sense of humor and references to other games. I love when a game doesn’t take itself too seriously and that is where Yooka-Laylee really shines. I couldn’t help but smile and chuckle a few times as I played this game. One minute I had a character tell me assets were borrowed to make this game but “ssh, don’t tell anyone,” and then the next minute I was running into characters I recognized from other games. “I was having an adventure so great, I crossed over into the wrong game!” comes from a character that is sure to make you smile as well.

As for the move set and abilities, Yooka and Laylee start off with simple abilities such as attacking, running, jumping, and even… slurping. Later on as I progressed, I learned I can make Yooka slurp up flowers to use as another attack on enemies, or simply to spit at buttons to activate platforms or win at mini-games. I also learned other special moves by collecting quills and bringing them to a snake friend named Trowzer. He has a variety of special moves to purchase, and I was able to back track with these new moves to activate something new. Combat is pretty basic and fun to use. I usually use the spin attack with the help of Laylee but every once and a while, I mix it up with the roll move I purchased so I can mow down enemies. So far, the combat and move set has been easy to pick up and enjoyable.

So far, my only real gripe with this game is the sometimes wonky camera angles. There have been more than a few times where I was controlling the camera with the right stick, only for it to wrap around the opposite direction. Also, when Yooka and Laylee are near a wall or edge of a mountain, the camera will sometimes wrap around and get up close and personal, causing me to feel a little disoriented. At one point, I even felt a little motion sickness because of it. To be fair, I can be sensitive to motion sickness with particular genres; 3D platformers being one of them. Fortunately, it hasn’t been every play session and I do feel like I’m getting used to the camera movement with the more I play. Regardless of this issue, I am looking forward to playing more and especially look forward to seeing the different worlds in the game.

From what I have played so far, I sense that Playtonic Games put a lot of love and tender care into Yooka-Laylee. It’s delightful characters and dialogue has me smitten and the gameplay is easy to pick up, with new abilities to learn as you progress. Yooka-Laylee shows us how open a world can be for this type of genre and whether you are a long time 3D platformer fan or just picking this genre up for the first time, you’re in for a delightful treat.

This has been a preview of Yooka-Laylee, by Playtonic Games, played on PC. Are you picking up Yooka-Laylee April 11th? Let us know!

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Imagine, you’re just chilling in your village. Then, all of a sudden, you’re told to go to the town hall for something stupid that you did. You and a lot of people are then told: “You are all hereby banished from the village!” It comes as an unexpected surprise to you, and you do not know how to react.  If this situation happened in real life, it would be more likely for one to get the ultimate punishment instead.  Banishment still is a bummer, though. Try as you and the others might, you cannot escape your fate. So, all of you must gather the little items that you have and go out into the world, knowing that you can never return. Meh, it was a crappy village anyway (yeah your village sucks).

Here seems good

Banished is a build simulation game, where a bunch of banished folks have to build a brand new village in the middle of nowhere. Doesn’t sound too complicated right? You also need to keep an eye on a few things. These include but are not limited to: Hunger, Freezing, Population Loss, Population Growth, Fire, Natural Disasters, Disease, Accidents, Homelessness, and Aging. Most, if not all, of these can result in certain death.

The village is based on the number of citizens and jobs. These jobs start off small, like gathering resources and buildings. Once you build a certain building of sorts, you then assign much more important tasks. These tasks range from wood chopping, keeping the village warm, farming, fishing, gathering, and hunting to keep your village fed. Since your resources and people are limited, you must decide on which job is most important for you to assign to your citizens.

Always keep an eye out on your population. You might end up with a bunch of builders with no resources because all of your resource gathers died, and you forgot to assign some builders to gather or vice versa. You might also end up with less people then you started with because single people don’t have enough homes in which to get married and start a family in, or all of the population is too old to start a family. At this point, you just watch as the remaining population dies out. After your third attempt, you might get it right (goes to the corner in shame).

I call thee..Home

Banished has a sense of gameplay that immerses you by watching the village, that you took the time to grow and nurture, unfold before your very eyes. The sounds, graphics, and gameplay coincide together to bring you a world you can spend hours playing. It may take some time and practice, but eventually, you do get a village in which you are proud of.

You can find Banished on Steam and Windows.

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So Much to See

When I first heard rumors flying around about a The Sims 4 expansion I thought to myself, “hmm, this seems like a good idea, but I’ll wait for a confirmation.” Next thing I know, they announced The Sims 4: City Living. This is the 3rd expansion pack of the Sims 4 series. From what I’ve gathered from the creators, it took them an extremely long time to complete and it’s been packed full of fun adventures for you and your Sims to enjoy. Let’s dive into just a few of those, shall we?

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Today marks the 20th anniversary of one of my all time favorite consoles, the Nintendo 64. Released in Japan on June 23, 1996 (Sept. 26 for the US), the N64 pushed the limits of gaming. Not only did the Nintendo 64 bring us some of our favorite franchises to 3D for the first time, it also introduced 4 player multiplayer and 64 bit graphics which looked gorgeous for its time.  Despite the N64 being criticized and looked at as the “beginning of the end” to Nintendo’s heavy third-party support and the start to their consoles being inferior to the competition, I absolutely loved the N64 and its games. So to honor its 20th anniversary, here are my top 5 Nintendo 64 games!

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With E3 just right around the corner, there’s so much being said and so much to speculate as to what to look forward to in these next upcoming days. Of course returning to the conferences will be EA, Sony, Microsoft, PC Gaming show, Ubisoft, Bethesda, and last but not least is Nintendo’s Treehouse. Here are some games expected at E3!

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Watch out for that bomb!

Imagine that you are a wonderful husband with a wonderful life. It’s a wonderful day in your wonderful house with your wonderful wife and 2 wonderful children. Then all of a sudden, an alarm sounds and suddenly your wonderful life just turned upside down. Wonderful! You have just enough time to pack up the family and some supplies to take to your emergency shelter before an atomic bomb makes contact with your home. How much time do you have? 60 seconds. That’s right, 60 seconds to get everything you need. Be very quick if you want to get enough to survive. And don’t forget your family!

Surving in a Shelter With You

Alright. You’ve made it into the shelter with (hopefully) all of your family members and supplies needed to survive for who knows how long. Let’s do checklist, shall we? You have your map, radio, flashlight, gun, axe, cards, board game, suitcase, a lock, your med kit, etc., but most importantly you have water and tomato soup! Yummy! Tomato soup is what you will be enjoying throughout this entire survival period. Isn’t that great?! Once you enter the shelter, you must make decisions based on what supplies you have brought with you to continue to survive until help arrives (or you perish). Ration food, look for supplies up top, keep the kids from driving you insane, try to stay sane, keep everyone healthy, and most important – TRUST NO ONE (except those willing to help)!

Good Luck Surviving!

60 Seconds is an interesting point and click survival based game that can be incredibly challenging, but fun. The art style is a mixture of 2D/3D perspectives giving the iconic aesthetic choices of the 50’s. The styles coincide with one other which I think is pretty cool. 60 Seconds compels you to keep trying to survive longer every time until you beat it. I have yet to, but maybe you guys can.

Watch my playthrough as I try my luck. Good luck out there!

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The popular free-to-play MMORPG, Blade and Soul got another trailer of its newest upcoming content, coming to the game on March 23rd. After the Warlock expansion just a few weeks ago a lot of new blood has been added to the pool so hopefully this content is enough to keep them for a while longer.

The second annual PAX South has come to an end, but with it kickstarts another exciting year of Penny Arcade Expo’s around the world. What was once simply a small web comic has exploded into one of the most inclusive, important, and flat-out entertaining places to be for gamers of all shapes and sizes. If you don’t know how PAX works, it’s essentially 3 days of big developers, small indie developers and gamers from all over coming together to share their passion for gaming. It’s only the second year of PAX South in San Antonio, but it’s already growing into a permanent staple to the San Antonio gaming community. This year was noticeably larger than last, and it shows no signs of slowing down. My personal favorite aspect of PAX is getting surprised by upcoming indie games that you’ve never heard of before, but that you can’t wait to play again when they release. There were a number of these this year, and these are three of my favorites.