How do you go about reviewing 30 games all at once? Well we’ve got to start somewhere, so let us start at the beginning of this journey, Los Angeles, E3 2015. This announcement came from well out of left field during the Microsoft Conference this year and surprised the whole audience. It’s not very often, you could say it’s…Rare, that something gets a one up on the gaming journalists, so kudos to Microsoft for this. It went from complete obscurity to arguably the most talked about game at E3.
Rare is one of the biggest gaming developers there is and with a gaming catalogue which spans over 30 years, they must be good at what they do to still be relevant now. Rare Replay promises us so much from the initial trailer we saw. 30 games, all on 1 disc and at only $30/£20 for all this content, surely this is too good to be true. Normally, this much promise would only leave a bitter taste in the mouth when it ultimately lets us all down, but this is a ‘Rare’ exception.
30 different games, a massive variety in gameplay, art design, nostalgia, difficulty levels and if you are an achievement hunter, 10,000 Gamerscore! Yes, 10,000! So even the most hardcore of hunters will be here for a while. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first, you won’t find on here some of Rare’s biggest mainstream hits on the collection, all due to licensing issues, so no Nintendo based characters, Donkey Kong Country, Diddy Kong Racing, Star Fox Adventures or possibly it’s most recognised game Goldeneye, for the Bond license as well as Nintendo’s agreement.
So in that case what is actually left you ask? You get some fantastic game from the N64 era, Banjo-Kazooie, Jet Force Gemini, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, yes you get the original, unedited Conker, not the Xbox 360 censored version. As well as those you get some games from Rare’s past, when they were called Ultimate Play the Game, which very few people would have heard about, JetPac, Sabre Wulf, Underwurlde which were all released on the ZX Spectrum during the early to mid 1980’s.
Every game that is pre-Xbox360 has the ability to flashback up to 10 seconds, so if you messed up that last jump in the turbo tunnel on Battletoads, quickly pressing the left trigger can take you back and give you that second chance. Another feature is that Rare Replay has built in save states, which for today’s gaming generation is a must. Time is very precious to people nowadays, so trying to play through all of Atic Atac in one sitting just isn’t going to happen, maybe the older generation of gamers who played these first time round might do this, but the younger generation of gamers who need information as fast as possible just wouldn’t have the patience.
When you first boot up Rare Replay, you are met with a glorious timeline of Rare’s past, an opening sequence of song and dance in a theatre which automatically brings a smile to your face and joy into your heart. The games are exactly as you remember them, they have not been upscaled or remastered in anyway, except for the HD remastered Xbox 360 versions of Perfect Dark, Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie. So, you will still get the slowdown effect of dropping to about 10 frames per second on some games, for example going into a new room on Knight Lore, god I hate isometric games, where up is actually North East and down is South West, but this was cutting edge technology back in the day.
To add to the gameplay and to continue with the theatre theme, is something called snapshots and playlists. Playlists are 8 challenges along a particular theme, i.e. Escape or High Score, you complete these challenges one after another and achieve a score. Snapshots of each game has at least 5 challenges for you to complete in each game. For every snapshot you complete you gain a stamp for your theatre ticket. You also gain stamps for every achievement you gain, and there are at least 5 for every game. The more stamps you collect the more is revealed in the Rare Revealed section.
In this section you get to see developer videos about each game that was released and even some about some projects that never made it to market. This I feel is a nice touch as you actually get to hear it from the horse’s mouth about any problems, or the fun they had, for example designing the Great Mighty Poo from Conker.
You can accept these as this is how you had to play it when the game was first released, but a gripe for me is that when you first put in the game, you have to ‘download’ the Xbox 360 games from the internet and install them. Was it a coincidence that Microsoft also announced backwards compatibility at E3? Hmmm… was this is a way to see how the servers actually cope with backwards compatibility and to see if it actually works? The strange thing is that you still need the Rare Replay disc to be in the drive and therefore you need to be online to actually play these games, which kind of defeats the object of downloading them in the first place.
All in all, Rare Replay is a bright, colourful and vibrant reminder of the games I grew up with, this is a fantastic collection of games from a brilliant developers past. No style of game is left out, no generation of games is excluded and most of all for $30/£20 you can’t go wrong at all!