Rare Replay

Rare Replay

A Rare Treat

Microsoft had a pretty solid showing of upcoming games, peripherals, and new features at this year’s E3. One of the most exciting announcements that came out of the press conference wasn’t a new intellectual property or AAA blockbuster, but rather a compilation from one of the industry’s most prolific developers of the past. During their glory days on Nintendo consoles in the ’90s (and a few gems in the early 2000s), Rare was a name that commanded attention. When their logo flashed on the screen, you were guaranteed a quality gaming experience. It’s no surprise then that aging gamers such as myself are drooling over a collection like this. Despite some technical glitches and the disheartening omission of a few beloved titles, Rare Replay is a solid collection at a bargain price.

The opening montage is smile inducing, filled with cardboard cutouts and popsicle stick puppetry wrapped in a musical number that could give LittleBigPlanet ‘s Media Molecule some stiff competition in the charm department. The presentation and ease of navigation between the menu and game selection screens is worthy of praise. Set in a posh cinema with red velvet hallways and golden trim, the box art is ornately framed, with remastered theme music playing in the background of the selected game. From each title screen you can quickly scan the control layout, toggle cheats, check milestone (achievement) progress, and switch between game modes. There were times when characters would casually jaunt in front of a description I was reading, but it was hard not to shake off the annoyance with a chuckle.

Nearly a third of the games in the inventory are ones you may never have heard of; relics from the 80s when Rare founders Tim and Chris Stamper were creating games on the 8-bit ZX Spectrum console under the publishing moniker Ultimate Play the Game. Hallmarks from their era, these simple designs have surprising depth and challenge. Some modern conveniences allow you to fudge the rules. With Rare Replay ‘s menu accessible via holding down the “menu” button on the controller, you can save every classic game (not the Xbox 360 titles) and reload exactly where you left off. The most clever feature comes in the form of a “rewind” cheat which allows you to instantly wind back the action up to ten seconds, reworking your path to avoid damage or a lost life.

Rare Replay Screenshot

Getting into Rare’s partnership with Nintendo, fond classics such as Battletoads , Killer Instinct Gold , Banjo-Kazooie , and Perfect Dark , showcase Rare’s versatility of genres. Add in some early Xbox 360 hits like Kameo: Elements of Power and Viva Piñata , and you’ve really got a pot luck feast of Rare treats. They’ve dabbled in 2D and 3D platformers, isometric adventures, racing games, first and third-person shooters, brawlers, fighting games, and even life sims. That gives Rare Replay a broad selection, with something sure to please every gamer out there. The ESRB rating even spans the spectrum. It’s quite humorous to watch Viva Piñata ‘s oh-so cute video lecture on safety with online interactions, and then get slapped with a disclaimer about the mature content in Conker ‘s Bad Fur Day before even loading the game. It’s a shame that licensing issues have kept out some of Rare’s best works such as GoldenEye 007 and Donkey Kong Country (and I can’t figure out why the Wizards and Warriors series didn’t make the list), but it’s pretty hard to complain considering the chosen thirty are quality picks.

Rare Replay Screenshot

Achievement hunters will be thrilled with the ability to rack up some relatively easy Gamerscore points. A hefty handful of points are earned simply by playing a game for the first time, and Rare Replay doubles up for the Xbox 360 games, awarding its own achievements on top of the ones found in the original game.

The Snapshots and Playlists modes take some cues from Nintendo’s NES Remix . Snapshots are bite-sized challenges for specific games, while Playlists take a specific objective such as a time limit or score attack, and wrap it around a handful of games with a set number of lives. Cheats are kept at bay in these modes, so skill is the only avenue to rack up milestones and stamps. Unfortunately, this mode has a fairly limited selection of titles. I can understand the barrier of adding challenges for the Xbox 360 games that run through the prior generation console’s dedicated application, but leaving out Snapshots and Playlists for the Nintendo 64 lineup of games is quite disheartening.

Rare Replay Screenshot

Stamps, of which there are three hundred and thirty, fill your profile card and denote your rank. When thresholds are breached a new piece of content is unlocked in the Rare Revealed gallery. The documentaries are particularly interesting to watch, giving glimpses into the creation of many of the great games included, as well a general history of the company itself. The passion for creating fun games is evident with each member interviewed. It’s refreshingly considerate that the now Microsoft-owned developer was allowed to share some praise of their partnership with Nintendo. The featurettes, along with a museum of concept art, music montages, and glimpses into some of Rare’s never released projects, make Rare Revealed one of the more outstanding collections of unlockable content found in games today.

As smooth as Rare Replay is to behold and navigate, I did run into a couple of frustrating glitches. Blast Corps (my favorite of the bunch) slapped me several times with game freezing bugs. I also received an odd error message a couple of times during my playthrough of Viva Piñata , which lost sync to the host game and proclaimed that there was an error reading my disc and that I should eject it and try again, despite the fact that this was a digital download. Only the Xbox 360 games allow for online multiplayer through the Xbox Live service, so sadly the classics are limited to local multiplayer. Still, if you have a bunch of friends milling around your house all the time, Rare Replay is a great way to get some quick, nostalgic, cooperative and competitive action in.

Rare developed games seldom see a remastered version or show up on a digital back catalog due to the company having changed ownership. Thus, seeing a compilation as robust as Rare Replay allows wistful gamers the chance to relive precious memories faded for decades, and others the opportunity to enjoy some of the greatest games of the past by one of the most lauded developers of the time. Yes, the collection is missing a few of its best, but for a mere thirty dollars and hundreds of hours of enjoyment, it’s a hard sell not to recommend adding this album to your library.

These aren’t remastered games, so the age of the visuals is in plain view. However, the presentation of the collection itself via the whimsical puppetry is top notch. 4.6 Control
Navigating between games and modes is about as smooth as I’ve seen in any game. The classic control schematics adapt exceptionally well to the Xbox One controller. 4.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Rare knew how to put catchy music in their games. You’ll be humming these tunes in your head long after you put down the controller. 4.3 Play Value
There are a few notable games missing, and Snapshots and Playlists should have been included for the N64 games. But 30 great games for $30 makes any complaints about value seem petty. 4.4 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Celebrate Rare’s 30th Anniversary with a jaw-dropping collection of 30 iconic games, lovingly presented for Xbox One.
  • Enjoy over 60 minutes of behind-the-scenes interviews and footage.
  • 10,000 Gamerscore points available and 700+ hours of gameplay.
  • Tackle snapshot challenges and enjoy exclusive bonus features.

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