Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Players: 1-4 (varies)
ESRB: E – M
I remember my first truly memorable “Rare” game experience like it was yesterday. It was March 2001 and I worked in a privately owned video game store. The game was Conker’s Bad Fur Day and I was excited for this raunchy platformer, a first for a Nintendo platform. This was just many of the various titles Rare released over the last 30 years. Games like Battletoads and RC Pro-am on the NES were staples to some classic third party titles and it’s great to see many of them come back in this fantastic Xbox One collection.
The major plus for this release is simply the value it holds. Rare Replay is a 30 game compilation being sold for $30! A single George Washington per game is a win-win in my book. Value aside, there’s hundreds of hours of gameplay and 10,000 Achievement points to keep you busy for quite a while. You are given games ranging from the early 80’s like Jetpac and Sabre Wulf, all the way to Xbox 360 releases with hit titles like Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts and the Viva Piñata series.
Even if you were only a fan of a couple of Rare’s popular titles like Banjo Kazooie, Perfect Dark, and Conker, I would strongly recommend playing RR and enjoying the bonus titles. Outside of the nostalgia factors, there is some really well thought out components included in this release, starting with a jaunty introduction reminiscent of a classic 1920’s show tune. The compilation, then greets you to a carnival themed menu with music that sounds like it came out of a Disney World ride.
The biggest challenge I faced in Rare Replay was deciding on what game to try first. I figured the best way to start was to play the previously unreleased arcade version of Battletoads. I am happy to report that I was not disappointed. For someone that never played the arcade version, this was a fresh experience and an enjoyable one at that. In this release, you are able to play three players simultaneously, which is a first on a console.
The graphics are what you would expect from a classic arcade beat-em up. The biggest difference between this and the well-known NES version outside its graphics was the violence level. I was punching enemies’ heads off with blood splattering about. A welcome change from what we are used to. One nifty feature that was added to select games was the ability to change the monitor style to CRT. This gives you the appropriate scanlines one would expect on an old school arcade cabinet along with the bubbled out corners of a tube monitor.
These bonus features vary from title to title and include infinite lives, continues, and even save/load states. I’m glad there was some real TLC that went into each option. For me, the one thing I enjoyed the most, was the appropriate port of Conker’s Bad Fur Day. I had read a lot of talk in the forums that Rare would be releasing the Xbox port, “Live and Reloaded” with RR. That didn’t sit well with me because as an enormous fan of the original game, too much was changed in the Xbox port which changed the overall experience.
I was relieved to see the menu for Conker show gameplay of the original Nintendo 64 release. For the most part, each game is a strict port and not a remaster including the Xbox 360 releases. The only games that show a graphical improvement are the N64 titles like Conker, Blast Corps, Jet Force Gemini, and Killer Instinct Gold. As for the older titles, they are simply presented in their original aspect ratio which is a welcome addition for hardcore fans.
Another unique feature that increases the replayablity is the stamp card system. When you start playing games, you earn stamps by performing various actions including playing an added feature called snapshots. Snapshots are tiny sections of select games where you have challenges and upon completing them you will earn more stamps which increase your player rank. When you increase your player rank, you gain the ability to unlock videos of Rare’s history including some unreleased games like Kameo 2. It’s a nice addition to an already jammed packed collection.
A couple of important things to keep in mind when purchasing RR. One, you need to make sure you have at least 50GB of space if you plan on installing the entire collection. The Xbox 360 titles will download individually, but will still be accessible within the RR menus.
Outside the large amount of space needed to install Rare Replay, the end result of this collection was remarkable and I hope other developers consider putting in the same care that Rare did. Rare has set the bar extremely high for re-releases and hope they will consider some DLC for games that didn’t make the cut like Goldeneye and even Conker: Live and Reloaded. Hey, we can dream.