Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, and Conker’s Bad Fur Day. These three, great games are easily worth the $29.99 price tag for Rare Replay. However, throw in 27 other entertaining games from acclaimed British developer Rare, presented in an informative and alluring package, and “Rare Replay” becomes a must-own for Xbox One owners.
As a celebration of its 30-year history developing games, Rare, formerly Rareware, formerly Ultimate Play the Game, has compiled 30 of its games from 1983 to 2008. These games cover the company’s development history for computers, arcades, NES, N64, Xbox and Xbox 360. When you start up “Rare Replay,” you’re introduced to an amusing musical number, which embodies the game’s carnival theme.
Either categorized alphabetically or by its release date, the gaming catalog section is where you’ll be playing all your favorite Rare game from years ago, or trying them out for the very first time. The selection screen is almost reminiscent of “Super Mario All-Stars,” as it provides a brief history lesson for each game listed. Naturally, it’s impossible to get heavily detailed with each game available to play, but the majority here are worth at least a minute of your time.
Jetpac, mostly known as that one Donkey Kong 64 minigame, is addicting with its simple premise of collecting fuel for your broken down ship while fending off alien invaders left to right. The same goes for its modern and more visually impressive reboot for Xbox Live. Battletoads for NES is a thrilling beat ’em up game starring alien frogs who can morph their fists into deadly weapons, however, its arcade rendition is far more over-the-top with its animation and adrenaline action.
If there was an era from Rare that defined the company, it would be its N64 days from 1996 to 2001. Platformers like Banjo-Kazooie and its sequel Banjo-Tooie refined the game designs from Super Mario 64 while introducing the world to the lovable bear and bird duo. Following the theme of refinement, Perfect Dark follows up on the solid first-person shooter action of Goldeneye for the N64; delivering an original experience for the player. Conker’s Bad Fur Day subverts the overpopulated kiddy platform games of the 90s with a humorous and foul-mouthed adventure unlike any other.
Grabbed by the Ghoulies marks the awkward transition of Rare moving on from Nintendo to working exclusively with Microsoft, as the game lacks anything memorable. However, Rare’s lineup for the Xbox 360, such as Kameo: Elements of Power and Viva Piñata have that creative spark associated with the company. Particularly in the case of Viva Piñata, a visually pleasing simulator filled with charm.
All games included in Rare Replay are simple ports of the original, so don’t expect the remaster treatment that’s becoming popular lately. With that said, there are a few adjustments made to these games. Older games made before widescreen TVs have individually themed borders to preserve picture quality, although players can remove them in the option menu. Auto-saves are also featured, along with cheats like rewinding the game back, before you made a critical error.
There’s more to Rare Replay besides replaying fan-favorite Rare games. Behind the scene videos featuring commentary, concept art, and undisclosed games are available to view. Unlocking these videos are done by earning stamps, a clever nod to Rare’s founders Tim and Chris Stamper, from the games’ specific challenges. A minigame collection sampling the best moments from the arcade and NES titles is also available to play for quick fun.
Regardless of any personal opinion on all 30 games, Rare Replay isn’t perfect. Performance issues are present within a few games. Blast Corps once froze during playtime and ran without sound. Perfect Dark Zero suffered a few framerate drops during the first mission. However, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts had it the worst, as the framerate drops heavily when the player enters Showdown Town for the first time and never recovers.
While not a deal breaker, but worth noting nonetheless, are the absence of Rare’s Nintendo-collaborated games like the Donkey Kong Country series. Obviously, there’s nothing Microsoft and Rare can do to port these Nintendo exclusive games to the Xbox One. But considering Rare Replay is meant to celebrate Rare’s achievements as a developer, it’s hard to pretend the company’s most influential period as former Nintendo developers didn’t happen.
Despite a few setbacks, Rare Replay is a wonderful collection of games for longtime fans or newcomers. Rare has been in the video game making business for 30 years now and with this and Sea of Thieves on the horizon, the company’s future looks quite bright. Here’s hoping for another 30 years or more.
Initial release date: August 4, 2015
Platforms: Xbox One
Publishers: Microsoft Studios
Game Review: Rare Replay for Xbox One
Rare Replay for the Xbox One collects 30 quintessential games from Rare’s 30-year history as developers at an affordable price. The packaging is amusing and the various games are just as entertaining as they were when first released. Not every outstanding game from Rare’s terrific development history is represented here, but anyone looking for bang for their buck won’t go wrong with this purchase.