I don’t exactly go out of my way to date people who are into gaming. As comedian Mike Birbiglia once said, giant pandas have trouble hooking up because they look and act exactly like each other, and I think the situation’s a little similar here. Still, my significant other is surprisingly tolerant of my freakish obsession with electronic entertainment. I bring this up because, for the first time, I’ve reviewed a title where I can’t pull her away from the controller. I’ve tried. This, folks, is a real miracle. Such is the effect that is Rare Replay.
Rare Replay is a collection of thirty games from the classic developer, spanning entire (mostly Nintendo) consoles like the NES, Nintendo64, up to the current Xbox platforms. Included are such beloved titles like the Banjo-Kazooie series, Solar Jetman and Jet Force Gemini. The one game in particular that I’ve become intimately familiar with is the N64 classic Perfect Dark, which my better half was apparently obsessed with back in the day. This is notable; the only thing I can get her to play most of the time is Five Nights at Freddy’s, but when Joanna Dark shows up all bets are off. It took some work to be able to play anything else.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of reasons to pick this collection up aside from the classic spy FPS. Banjo-Kazooie, for instance, is basically the pinnacle of the collectathon i.e. scavenger hunt style of gameplay that reigned during the N64 days. Yes, kids, back in the day there were more of these than Early Access survival games on Steam. Hard to imagine, huh? Rare Replay even includes a fighting game in the form of Killer Instinct Gold – though, frankly, you’re better off playing the fantastic 2013 reboot instead.
My personal favorite is the aforementioned Jet Force Gemini, a fantastic third-person shooter that really, really needs more love; it’s noteworthy for its bizarre control scheme, a stick-and-button monstrosity that was a necessary concession to the N64 controller. It’s a great game, but you might need some time to avoid flailing about. Another strong recommendation goes to Blast Corps, which features unique destruction-based action that you can’t really find anywhere else. Of course, everyone’s got fond memories of Battletoads as well, right? Yeah, no, they don’t, it’s an incredibly punishing game that hates you to your very core…but that nostalgia!
They’re not all winners, though. As mentioned, Killer Instinct Gold is rendered completely obsolete by the reboot. Also, the late-gen offerings in particular aren’t quite up to par with the rest of the collection. Grabbed by the Ghoulies, for instance, was meant to be Rare’s comeback masterpiece during the sixth console generation but turned out to be a bit of a turd. Kameo: Elements of Power was an attempt at reclaiming the glorious collectathon days, but ends up feeling like a bizarre mishmash of gameplay tropes. And Perfect Dark Zero…uh, let’s just forget about that. “You don’t want that one, you want the OTHER one,” I warned my significant other as she was searching for Perfect Dark on the game list.
The games themselves all run well and I didn’t encounter any technical issues, but you get more than just a bunch of old games in this collection. Rare Replay also includes a behind-the-scenes featurette called Rare Revealed and a NES Remix-style minigame selection called Snapshots. I didn’t find either of these especially compelling, but someone who’s more into the backroom aspect of gaming is bound to love Rare Revealed.
The best part of Rare Replay might be its incredibly low price. Every game should cost $30 and provide this amount of content…but they don’t, so enjoy such extravagance while it lasts. Anyone with even a smidgen of gaming knowledge, whether personal of even second-hand, is bound to find something they loved, and will probably still love, in this collection. Every Xbox One owner owes it to themselves to pick up Rare Replay.