Released back in 2015 on the Xbox One, this is a compilation of British developer Rare’s classics. Picked from over 30 much-celebrated years, we take a gander at the finest moments.
Right, so this collection also incorporates games from the period where Rare was called Ultimate Play the Game.
That was for much of the 1980s and included hits such as Jetpac and Knight Lore (both included in this title).
From the mid-1980s onward Rare impressed Nintendo enough to become a first-party developer for the NES.
That eventually led to a lucrative deal on the SNES, with the Donkey Kong Country trilogy. As Nintendo own that lot, these are conspicuous in there absence on Rare Replay.
As is Goldeneye 007, the game that made Rare world famous. That’s likely down to licensing issues.
Its absence, as with the DKC trilogy (and the same for Diddy Kong Racing), means the compilation can’t live up to its full potential.
But the good news is there are plenty enough fantastic games here to keep anyone happy.
For Nintendo 64 enthusiasts, there are some absolute gems to return to.
It was really quite amazing seeing Jet Force Gemini sitting there waiting for us. We’ve not played that since around 2001.
The same goes for Blast Corps and Banjo-Kazooie. The latter’s sequel is also available, which we’d never played before.
Added into the mix are some of Rare’s efforts on the Xbox consoles. Microsoft bought the developer off Rare in 2002—what appeared to be an astonishing scoop at the time.
However, it coincided with a huge proportion of the staff leaving after 2000’s Perfect Dark.
So developer Microsoft forked out $375 million for what was, at the time, arguably the best developer in the world. But, of course, the key staff had just left.
And suddenly Microsoft was lumped with a developer in a bit of a latency period. You can see this on Rare Replay, as the wealth of N64 titles suddenly changes into odd, quirky numbers for the Xbox and Xbox 360. We have:
- Grabbed by the Ghoulies.
- Perfect Dark Zero.
- Viva Piñata.
- Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts.
The latter caused considerable consternation, as it drifted enormously away from the series’ style. And was a bit disappointing.
So the highs of Rare Replay are largely with the Nintendo 64 titles. Of which two crucial ones are sadly missing, with the average Killer Instinct: Gold thrown in (for some reason).
There are also some fun videos of former team members discussing the creation of projects. That included the talented artist Wil Overton, who Rare nabbed from N64 Magazine.
There’s also industry legend and composer David Wise. After a hiatus from the industry, he’s really thrown himself back in recently. Fantabulous to see.
A surprising perk comes with the inclusion of the Ultimate Play the Game titles from the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad, and BBC Micro.
And, yes, that includes Battletoads—the notoriously bloody difficult NES platformer.
Also from the NES is Digger T. Rock, which we got to play for the first time again since at least 1993.
There are 15 of these older titles and some of them are a bit hit and miss. If you have nostalgic factor for them then, hurray, you’re in luck here. But younger gamers may find them too simplistic and ugly looking. The heathens!
But on the whole, this is well worth your time. There are 30 games here! And it’s a neat introduction to Rare’s Xbox efforts—as hit and miss they’ve been.
But for us, the main draw was with the N64 titles we’d not played in well over a decade.
It’s also important to note Rare has since ramped things up a bit.
Initially, Microsoft’s purchase of the developer seemed a bit pointless. Early titles were somewhat underwhelming.
But since Sea of Thieves (2016), Rare has got some of its mojo back with epic AAA titles. That includes the upcoming title Everwild.
So, it’s great to have the developer back in action. Even if the Stamper brothers have retired and the ’90s era staff is long gone.
What he have are signs of an industry legend finding its feet again.
Perhaps Rare isn’t delivering with the anywhere the same level of genius it once was, but it certain is getting back in the right groove.