Most people know Rare LTD from their mega-hits, like GoldenEye, Banjo Kazooie and Battletoads. For nearly 2 decades, Rare made a name for themselves by creating a massive collection of unique and enjoyable games that were genre defining. Unfortunately, as systems became more advanced, Rare titles became much more… elusive. This escalated to a point where in the last 5 years, you may have known the studio as the one behind Kinect Sports. Fortunately for the world, the Xbox One is looking to remedy that with Rare Replay.
On the 30th anniversary of the studio, we got a collection of 30 games for only $30.
Now if you are familiar with most game collections, you may already be aware that usually they consist of crappy emulated game images thrown onto a disc so that the publisher can make a quick buck (looking at you, Namco and Taito). Rare Replay immediately shows you it is going to be different as soon as you boot the title up. There’s an opening movie that instead of showing clips of the games on disc, set to an ultra generic techno track, is a musical number performed by the classic characters in the 30 games. The entire presentation of the game is done up in a way that everything resembles classic cinema and theater presentation. It’s immediately endearing, right off the bat.
The 30 games that Rare Replay includes actually show off quite a bit of what the company has been all about over the last 30 years. There are games like Underwurlde, which was the precursor to Wizards and Warriors and Knight Lore, which inspired Solstice. Of course there are the classics as well, like Battletoads, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, the Banjo Kazooie trilogy and both Perfect Dark games.
What is probably the most amazing thing to me is that 2 of my favorite childhood games happen to be included as well, Snake, Rattle n’ Roll and Blast Corps. On top of keeping the original presentation intact, including a CRT filter for those that really want to bask in nostalgia, there’s plenty to keep you busy. Each game has its own achievements to be earned and milestones that unlock additional content in the collection. There are also ‘snapshots’, which are bite-sized challenges that earn you additional milestones and achievements as well. Most games have a cheat menu that can help you overcome some of the more difficult games and most retro titles have a built-in rewind feature as well to help you undo mistakes.
Additional features on the game include concept art and video from unreleased games, like Kameo 2 or short films that describe the development and design processes behind some of Rare’s most beloved titles. This is an amazing addition to the collection as you can really see a behind the scenes look at how many of these games came to fruition or ask yourself how some of the cancelled games never came to be.
Overall, the experience is highly recommended but the game collection isn’t free from flaws. Most of these games do not translate over to using an analog stick well at all, in fact the controls in a few games (like Snake, Rattle n’ Roll) are absolutely horrid without using the d-pad, which feels unnatural on a current-gen controller. There are seems to be some sort of input lag when you rewind a game a couple seconds, which can create serious problems in games like Battletoads. A few games have a little bit of slowdown as well, which isn’t a major deal. The biggest issue I had was that some of the games that were released on Xbox 360 are played as their 360 ports, this means that all Xbox One features, like streaming, are removed natively from those games. As someone that never played a Banjo game, I’d love to stream my experiences hassle free.
Ultimately, Rare Replay sets the stage for what should be expected from a retro game collection and I absolutely see myself playing this game until I amass that 10,000 Gamerscore that can be earned.