We can be cynical when it comes to games, consoles, and whatever else maybe trending at the moment. Some of us are displeased about the consistent amount of games getting the re-release or the remaster that may or may not add anything to the game for better or for worse. People can find anything to be down about, but what a lot can agree upon is nostalgia and how it can bring a smile to our face. Fortunately, Microsoft and Rare have brought is the compilation game, Rare Replay, to help us with that.
When announced a few months back, there was an initial reaction of excitement that we get to play Rare games again; games that meant something to many people before Microsoft bought the studio in 2002. Even with franchises like Viva Piñata being introduced and a less received sequel to Banjo-Kazooie, Rare then turned to created avatars for XBLA and motion games for the Kinect until Kill Instinct came back with the Xbox One in which Rare Studios had a hand in. Many may still long for the next Rare Studios platformer but the release of Rare Replay may signify Rare’s return to form…and it fun too.
The presentation of the game should be commended; not just because of the nostalgia it helps provide right from the start, but the fact that the developers took their time and gave their 30 games a proper introduction. They could have opened up the game with a generic “choose your game” option where video of the game plays next to the games name, but Microsoft and Rare gave each game its own opening curtain as well as the music from each game getting a new rendition. This is a company that is proud of its legacy and it shows.
Another added feature is the unlocking of new content in the form of behind the scenes videos for games where members of Rare talk about the games and concept art and videos becoming unlocked by performing certain tasks from the games; even playing the game for the first time can unlock some info. The most interesting of which that we have come across was the concept art and video of Kameo II. While Kameo was a game that never made it into a franchise for Microsoft, it was interesting to see how the characters and game would have evolves from its colorful representation to something more dark.
Just to address the elephant in the room, no, not every Rare Studio game is included in this collection; Goldeneye and Donkey Kong are missing for obvious reasons (they’re owned by Nintendo), along with some sports games and other licensed franchises.
We’ll be the first to admit that going into the collection, we didn’t realize how far back in time Rare Studios went nor did we realize that certain games were made by them. We went into the game and we can safely say that we have played every game in the collection starting with Jetpac from 1983 when Rare was known as the ‘Ultimate Play the Game’ company, to the more recent 2008 release of Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. It was essentially a trip through time as you can see how games and graphics have evolves over the years.
Even though we didn’t play the early releases, we still appreciated it none the less. Unfortunately, one of the issues the player may face, especially younger gamers, is that these game may never be played in anyway and be ignored. We hope that doesn’t happen as often as we think it will but it seems like a waste, but for a game that is $30, it is hard to argue for only one dollar per game.
The games and their controls are just the same. There is no additions to the games in terms of their aspect ratio or the graphics; the game are pretty much the same as you remember with the exception of the border around the older games. It was a good idea to keep their games as they were, although for some games it would have been nice to change the button configuration to map the button so they make sense for the Xbox controller. There is also the Snapshot Playlist that in which the player has a set amount of time to get through a pieces of other games that use similar gameplay.
The one addition the developers put in for the older games is the use of a rewind feature. This may not be much of an addition for some, but older gamers with appreciate it; especially those that sat up playing Battletoads on the NES for hours attempting to get past the speed bike area where we kept smashing into walls that may have helped brought on the term “rage quit”. Now gamers have the opportunity to actually beat the game.
The 360 games that are included in the game, at least for us, came in the form of separate downloads that took up some room on the Xbox One hard drive (about 8 gigs for each game). So for those that may have a full drive, you will need to make some room for the Banjo Kazooie, two Viva Piñata Games, Perfect Dark Zero, Kameo amongst others.
We didn’t come across any issues with the emulations or even the games from Xbox Ones backwards compatibility that was worth noting and we found the newer games more vibrant than we remembered they first released, especially Viva Piñata.
Rare Replay should be the basis that other companies look to when creating their own compilations in the future. While there are some games in this collection that many will not get into whether it’s the older games from the 80’s and Perfect Dark Zero, there is still enough in this set that makes it more than worth the price point.
We just hope more are added over time through download, but after going through the games, what we really want most is a new Rare Studios platformer that brings the company back to its roots. It’s been seven years since Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, and hopefully we won’t have to wait another seven for whatever gaming magic they could have in store.