Game collections made a big resurgence in the last generation but with the newest generation of consoles it has really taken off. Sometimes these collection are the perfect thank you to fans and sometimes they’re little more than a shameful cash grab. Which category does Rare Replay fall under? This isn’t something that can be reviewed in the same manner as a single new release title so instead we’ll examine the collection’s value for money, fun factor, extra content and just who it might appeal to.
The concept of Rare Replay is simple, 30 games for €/$30 incorporating a wide range of titles from one of Microsoft’s most popular development teams, all in celebration of 30 years of gaming. The collection starts out with the 1983 classic ‘Jetpac’ and carries on all the way through to the 2008 releases of ‘Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts’ and ‘Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise’. The 30 games included are;
Jetpac (1983), Atic Atac (1983), Lunar Jetman (1983), Sabre Wulf (1984), Underwurlde (1984), Knight Lore (1984), Gunfright (1986), Slalom (1987), R.C. Pro-Am (1988), Cobra Triangle (1989), ‘Snake Rattle N Roll (1990), Digger T. Rock (1990), Solar Jetman (1990), Battletoads (1991), ‘R.C. Pro-Am II (1992), Battletoads Arcade (1994), Killer Instinct Gold (1996), Blast Corps (1997), Banjo-Kazooie (1998), Jet Force Gemini (1999), Perfect Dark (2000), Banjo-Tooie (2000), Conker’s Bad Fur Day (2001), Grabbed by the Ghoulies (2001), Perfect Dark Zero (2005), Kameo: Elements of Power (2005), Viva Pinata (2006), Jetpac Refuelled (2007), Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (2008), Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise (2008).
Chances are you probably wouldn’t pay €1 for some of the titles in that list. Adding 30 years of advancement and they become pretty tedious at best and downright horrifying at worst. Sorry Sabre Wulf but you’re a blot on the Rare copy book. This however does get balanced out by the number of games that are worth so much more than €1. One of the strangest compliments that can be given to Rare Replay is that they don’t try to hide their failings. These games are faithfully emulated in Rare Replay with little or no revision allowing you to play them exactly how they were and see just how many have stood the test of time. Banjo-Kazooie remains one of the best 3D platformers of all time. Viva Pinata remains colourful, relaxing, and just plain fun. Perfect Dark remains a superb shooter while Perfect Dark Zero remains a bitter disappointment that will probably leave fans of the first staring angrily at their screen wondering where it all went wrong. Sabre Wulf stands as an example of how technical excellence is no match for good mechanics and the test of time has left it inconceivably terrible. This honesty is part of what makes Rare Replay worth picking up. This collection is far more than a bunch of games to play. It’s actually a fantastic journey through video game history starting right in the heart of the great video game crash of 1983 all the way through to the glory days for Xbox 360.
How you play this collection is up to you. Whether you jump onto your old favourites right away or play them in chronological order
you’re sure to have a blast. Personally I opted to play them in order and in doing so I learned a lot. Starting with Jetpac, a game on the ZX Spectrum by Ultimate Play the Game (who became Rare in 1988) I reaffirmed my belief that a simple game with simple controls can suck you in every bit as much as the latest heart wrenching story driven narrative. Moving forward to the Sabre Wulf series (Sabre Wulf, Underwurlde, and Knight Lore) I realised how lucky we were that video games made a resurgence despite the existence of this abomination. (Ok, I confess Sabre Wulf was a marvel for its time praised heavily for its impressive graphics and sound. It stands now as an example of how the most technically impressive games are often the ones who fail the test of time). Advancing on to R.C. Pro-Am and Cobra Triangle a noticeable increase in depth has been obtained. Car upgrades make all the difference in R.C. while Cobra Triangle boasts an impressive variety of level types when compared to the early games in the collection. Control schemes rapidly become more complicated as games start to make use of more mechanics. Jump and shoot are no longer all you need to know. Before long we’re moving from 2D sprites into 3D models as Killer Instinct Gold and Blast Corps take their place on the screen. It’s even possible to discern the shifting trends in game design brought about by the decline of the arcade in favour of home consoles. The games become progressively easier as we see a shift away from the punishing difficulty and absent save states of games from the coin operated days. Some people out there argue that games weren’t really harder back in the day, they just seemed that way because we were kids. To those people I say, “LIES!”.
There is a certain amount of irony in the fact that many gamers will likely find that the games that inspired them to buy Rare Replay probably won’t be the ones they enjoy the most. Tragically Jet Force Gemini does not age well. Similarly, and I may dash many hopes and dreams when I say that, being a hungover squirrel just isn’t as much fun as it used to be. Gamers have been begging for a new Conker game for quite some time. When he got his own trailer in Project Spark people around the world were delighted to see that he hasn’t been forgotten about but they were equally disappointed that he wasn’t getting his own new title. For the first time in a long time Conker fans have something to celebrate but the celebrations will likely be quickly muted. This game simply has not stood the test of time. While it’s great to hear a song about a Great Mighty Poo once more while controlling an angry alcoholic squirrel the gameplay and level design simply aren’t that much fun. Considering that this collection also includes Banjo-Kazooie it’s hard to find an excuse to play Conker when the game features such lacklustre level design when compared to the Banjo options available to you. Conker’s Bad Fur Day is still worth playing simply for nostalgia but if you play through this collection in order you may find yourself wondering why they didn’t just make Banjo-Threeie instead.
Minor disappointments aside you may well find yourself falling in love with some titles you’ve possibly never heard of, especially if you only started gaming in the mid 90s or later. Jetpac, R.C. Pro-Am, Cobra Triangle and Digger T. Rock are just some of the older titles that are well worth trying out. If you’re the sort of person who has been considering buying Rare Replay then chances are you won’t let dated visuals put you off a game and you’ll definitely find a couple of these titles to your taste.
Of course any developer could simply through a bunch of old titles onto one disc and sell them as a collection with little or no effort but thankfully Rare have gone about this in a more professional and respectful manner. While the games remain largely untouched the addition of snapshot challenges and milestones add a new layer of depth to decades old games. Remember Battletoads? Remember that Speeder Bike level? Are you a complete masochist? Try a snapshot challenge to survive for 40 seconds.Just don’t blame me when your controller finds itself embedded in a nearby wall. Speaking of the Battletoads speeder bike level, if you never managed to complete it then now might just be the perfect opportunity thanks to the wonders of rewind. At any point in these early games you will have the option to rewind the last 10 seconds of play meaning that a single mistake doesn’t have to be the end of your game. In fact you can make the same mistake as many times as you like… although it probably would be better just to learn from it instead. These early games also have an additional auto-save function so you won’t need to worry about completing them in a single sitting like we did when we were too young to have other commitments.
By playing the games you’ll earn stamps for completing milestones and by earning stamps you’ll unlock bonus documentaries about the games you’ve been playing. It’s not exactly ground-breaking but it’s a nice, genuine effort that helps to make this collection stand out as one of the best on the market. Between these videos, snapshot challenges and an absolutely superb opening musical masterpiece Rare Replay stands out amongst its peers as a an honest, interesting and enjoyable collection that would be fair value at a full 60 pricetag and is an absolute steal at it’s budget tag. Surpassed only by the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) Collection this is a perfect example of how to do a game collection and is a must have for retro fans, Rare fans, and anybody interested in the evolution of video games.
After such an honest portrayal of Rare’s work it is then a great shame that so much of the marketing was geared towards this wonderful figure of 10,000 gamerscore that was available with the game. For many this won’t be an issue but achievements hunters should note that Rare Replay is only 4,000 gamerscore. The more recent titles in the collection are actually downloaded separately and played through an Xbox 360 emulator on the Xbox One (essentially the games are the 360 versions played through the new backwards compatibility). This means that these games share the achievement list from the360 version so if you already have 1000 gamerscore for Viva Pinata then Rare Replay drops to a potential of 9,000 etc. While this shouldn’t deter anyone from picking up the collection it was a somewhat dishonest and misleading marketing effort that it should be called out on.
Pros: Superb value for money
A detailed journey through the advancement of gaming
Cons: Some popular titles don’t stand the test of time
You’ll be reminded that Sabre Wulf was a thing.