As many, I'm pretty surprised by the direction taken with the series with this new project, but I'm really happy to see Yooka and Laylee getting another chance to shine. What has been shown of the game looks great to me, even if there have been a lot of great 2D platformers in the last years (which makes it hard to stand out), so I feel like we should let Playtonic know what we liked and we disliked about what has been shown in order to help them making the best game possible.
Things that I really like
+ It is a 2D platformer, which is a genre where it is easier to make a decent product than in 3D. Playtonic is in a position that makes me think it's a wise decision to go safe with the second project, and I'm positive their experience as a team will allow them to polish the final product a bit more than in the first case.
+ The music! It was logic to give Grant more weight in the first YL since it was a Banjo-Kazooie inspired game (and there can't be Banjo without Kirkhope), so the natural thing to do now is making Dave the protagonist in a 2D platformer which seems to be inspired by Donkey Kong Country. I suppose the trailer music is a statement of intents about that and I really hope so.
+ This game is gorgeus and vibrant, and landscapes and scenarios seem such a joy to watch. I'm sure Playtonic has found a better scale in The Impossible Lair than in the first game, and I think this being a 2D platformer will allow them to make a less irregular product in general, while the first entry had some great looking areas (Shipwreck Creek, Tribalstack Tropics, Glitterglaze Glacier...) and some terrible looking ones (Moodymaze Marsh, Capital Cashino, the exteriors of Hivory Towers...).
+ I love how all gameplay element or obstacle (platforms, the floor, hazards) seem to be well integrated in the setting and the landscape, making it look cohesive and real, without floating elements like in a Mario game. I'm not really surprised, since Rare DKC games already made a great job of doing this back in the SNES days.
+ Yooka's speed of moving looks right for a platformer that seems to be focused in offering a real harmony between exploration (like a Wario Land game) and pure platforming ability (like a Mario game). The original DKC games were like this too and were pretty well balanced in relation to it; there were games that didn't play too fast nor too slow, and Yooka-Laylee's sequel seems to do this right in that matter too, for what I've seen in the trailer.
+ The top view hub is a great idea and a natural evolution from things like DKC3 worlds. If it is well designed, has good puzzles and offers fun gameplay mechanics (not just use this "key" to open this "lock") I'm sure it will enrich the experience a lot and make it easier for the game to stand out among other modern 2D platformers.
Things that I don't like or I'm afraid won't deliver in the final game
- In a game like this, physics have to be nice and fun, with little inertias or speed ups after some moves (like roll jumping in Retro Studios DKC games, or rolling against an enemy in the classic DKC trilogy) that let the player to experiment during their traversal through the level. I'm not sure I've seen anything like this in the trailer, since Yooka's roll jumping doesn't seem to offer any kind of acceleration.
- Bouncing over enemies is an essential mechanic in every 2D platformer, and in The Impossible Lair it doesn't look something that satisfactory to perform. Maybe it's the impact effect, which doesn't seem to emphasize the propulsion, or maybe it'sthe propulsion itself.
- The difficulty has to be high if you want the game not to be a forgettable experience; one of the things that make Retro Studios DKC games awesome is that they are actually hard games(not only when you try to find everything, but also in relation to the platforming). A well balanced and not cheap challenge is crucial for an ability game (like a 2D platformer) to be fun and to be remembered.
- The trailer shows that levels might have two versions (since we can see Yooka chosing to play a stage called Factory Fright, or a flooded version with different collectables). Forcing the player to play the same level two times but with some changes is usually a bad idea (I'm looking at you, Yoshi's Crafted World) or an idea that often is not implemented propperly (for example, I think it's better to leave those recycled stages for a second run or a new game +, like in Super Mario 3D Land, since that way they don't harm the pace forcing you to repeat segments) with the only purpose of artificially making the game less short. I just hope this doesn't mean that the game will have not much levels and the team is trying to stretch its length this way.
- As I've said the Zelda-like overworld is one of the highlights of this game to me, but I fear that it will contain too long segments that will make it difficult to reach a level or too many non-gameplay elements (shops, dialogues, cutscenes...). I think a 2D platformer should have a different pace than a 3D one; adventure elements like puzzles and NPCs have to be measured in order to not affect the core gameplay.