When this game was announced at E3 2015 for the Xbox One I about lost my damn mind with excitement, and then when I heard Jet Force Gemini was a part of the 30 game collection I was sold. I didn’t need to hear anymore, I was buying this game, I had my $60 ready, then they said the price was $30 and like Fry from Futurama I had my money in my hand running to the store.
I’ve been a fan of Rare since the Nintendo Entertainment System days with RC Pro Am and Battletoads, granted I didn’t know I was a Rare fan at the time; that wouldn’t come until years later when the Donkey Kong Country series was released on the Super Nintendo.
In crafting this review I thought about how it would be organized. Do I tackle each game one by one or do I review it all as a whole?
Reviewing all 30 games individually would make for a lengthy article that frankly I don’t think you’ll read and even more frankly I don’t want to write, so I went with a more overall approach and touching some of the games with more details.
The presentation of this game is top notch and to me it hints at a possible return to glory for Rare, who have been stuck in X-Box Kinect hell for the past couple of years. What did they ever do to you Microsoft to deserve this treatment?
I think we’ve grown accustom to collection games like these to have a bare bones menu and you just pick a game, and maybe, if you’re lucky, you’ll have a screen shot when you’ve highlight the game you want to play. This isn’t the case with Rare Replay. When you first boot up the game (after install of course) you’re greeted with a musical, almost stage play like, that you could tell the folks at Rare took great fun in making. The games are ordered by release date, earliest to most current. Each game has its own frame set up like a gallery and when you select a game you want to play the menu expands and you see some game play in the background and information about the game flanking it.
When you complete milestones within in the games (aka achievements) you get stamps in a little book, once you fill up each book (roughly five or six stamps) you unlock a behind the scenes video from Rare to learn a little bit more about this studio, which I’ll assume if you’re like me and bought this game you’re probably a huge fan of the company and these are a real treat.
Speaking of achievements, there are a whopping 10,000 gamer score to be had, which I must say, good luck in getting all 10,000 points because some of the older games are quite hard and with no instruction manual they are pretty impossible to figure out.
Quick side note, why the hell aren’t gaming companies giving us manuals anymore? As a kid when I’d get a new game I’d take the manual with me to school and look through it just day dreaming about getting home to play the game (also as an adult I may or may not have continued this trend). Anyways, game companies, give us the fucking manuals back, I don’t care if I can look it up online, that’s some bull shit right there.
Each game is presented in their original form (with the exception of the Nintendo 64 games that were rereleased on the X-Box Live Arcade on the 360) meaning if the games was in a 4:3 aspect ratio then that’s how they show it, but with beautiful borders to fill out the rest of the screen, my favorite is the Battletoads Arcade boarders which highlight all the bosses in the game. The above mentioned games that have a remake are the first two Banjo-Kazooi games, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and Perfect Dark. Those games have updated controls and are in full 16:9 aspect ratio and appear to have smoother graphics than their N64 releases.
Speaking of upgraded controls, my largest complaint is with my favorite game in this collection, Jet Force Gemini, it was a game for the N64 and being a third person shooter on the N64 you only had one analog stick to use so aiming is quite difficult and takes some time to get used to. Since I’m not a game designer I don’t know how much I’m asking for but it would have been nice for Rare to have updated the controls for this one. A minor complaint but this would have made this game even better.
As far as the 30 games go I recommend you try all 30 out, if for anything just to get a stamp and an achievement for booting up the game. With this said the seven games made before the NES game Slalom are pretty hard to play, especially with no manual, there is no explanation to your goal in these game or how to play. These games are Jetpac, Lunar Jetman, Atic Atac, Sabre Wulf, Underwurlde, Knight Lore, and Gunfight. Jetpac and Gunfight though are pretty fun to play and you get the idea of how to play them even without a manual. I plan on coming back to Sabre Wulf and Underwurlde as well because the taste that I got makes me want to learn more of the games.
The games, beginning with Slalom are all pretty self-explanatory. Slalom is just downhill skiing, the AM Pro R/C games are just basic NES racers and so on. Like when we were kids you just kind of pick up the game, play with it for a second and you get the hang of what you have to do and how to do it.
Then we come to Battletoads, oh Battletoads, you sadistic torturous game you. If you didn’t play Battletoads on the original NES your video gaming cred is not complete, and I’m not one to say something like that, but to truly appreciate gaming you have to play this well made, well responsive, frustratingly hard game. You can always tell who has played this game though, just the sheer mention of it will get their blood pumping and their eyes dilated, and they’ll say either one of two things, “fucking Battletoads,” or “jet skis, I fucking hate the jet ski level.” The jet ski level, or better known as Turbo Tunnel, is the epitome of difficultly in games, or just a dick move by Rare back in the 90’s. Seriously though, I can’t explain this level in mere words, I would do it no justice. I suggest you watch a twitch stream of this, or better yet checkout Outside Xbox on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9yd-4ywE7c), fast forward to the 2:58 mark where they start playing the game.
But let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this collection, the reason why most of us were excited when it was announced, the N64 era of Rare. Without having the Donkey Kong Country games in this collection (understandably so) Rare’s best releases were on the N64 and this era of Rare Replay begins with the classic fighter Killer Instinct Gold all the way up to the instant classic Conker’s Bad Fur Day, including the Banjo-Kazooie games, Jet Force Gemini, and Perfect Dark. These games right here are well worth the $30 price tag for the game. All of these games are great; this era clearly shows off Rare’s unique style and humor. Of this era (not counting the absent Golden Eye 64) Jet Force is my favorite and I’ve been trying to find a copy for a few years for my N64, but sadly the two copies I’ve been able to get my hands on did work; so finally after a few years of searching I was able to play this classic again, and holy hell were the controls difficult to get used to. As I mentioned above this game was originally for the N64 and that had one analog stick and the “C” buttons. So the stick was used to move and aim and the “C” buttons were used for strafing. That was fine back in 1999, that’s all we had and all we were used to, flash forward 16 years and we’ve grown accustomed to dual sticks which make controlling shooters so much crisper. My only complaint here is that Rare didn’t update the controls here like they did for the Banjo, Conker’s, and Perfect Dark games, though in all fairness these games are the X-Box Live Arcade ports which were upgraded for the 360. My hope is that a future update to the game will update Jet Force’s control scheme to match that of modern 3rd person shooters.
This great era of video gaming has a sad conclusion though, as from 1994 to 2001 Nintendo owned 49% of Rare. In 2002 Rare wanted to sell the entire company to Nintendo and go from being a 2nd party developer to becoming 1st party. Sadly Nintendo didn’t purchase Rare, why? No one outside Nintendo knows for sure, not even Tim Stamper, co-founder of Rare. However, Microsoft swooped in and paid a whopping $375 million for the company. This new era of Rare has been mixed. Their first game Grabbed by the Ghoulies (part of this collection) has received mixed reviews and honestly it’s an okay game. Then with the launch of the X-Box 360 we got Kameo (a very fun launch title) and Perfect Dark Zero, a sequel/prequel (I’m not really sure) to the N64 Perfect Dark. Zero is a basic FPS and a decent first effort for the 360 but nothing special.
After 2008’s Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, Rare for some reason was sent to Kinect hell and I can honestly say that until E3 this year when Rare Replay was announced I just assumed one of my all-time favorite game makers had gone out of business. My hope is this collection sells well and leads to newer, more creative Rare games in the future.
Of the Microsoft era of this collection (Ghoulies, Perfect Dark Zero, Kameo, Viva Piñata games, Jetpac Refueled, and Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts) the only games that really feel like Rare games are the Viva Piñata games. Nuts and Bolts is fun, but it’s not as fun as the N64 Banjo games. These games are definitely worth a play thru no doubt, but the N64 era is the highlight here.
The one thing I will say about Microsoft’s ownership of Rare is that had Nintendo bought them this collection on the Wii U would have probably been scaled way down or would be on multiple discs and would have cost more than $30.
Final Verdict: For $30 this collection is a complete steal. Rare could have taken the easy route and just phoned it in like so many other anniversary games before it, Rare did the Rare (pun intended) thing and made this collection memorable with all of the extras they threw in.
Of the 30 games on this collection 16 of them are truly great (Slalom, R.C. Pro-Am, Cobra Triangle, Battletoads, R.C. Pro-Am II, Battletoads Arcade, Killer Instinct Gold, Blast Corps, Banjo-Kazooie & Tooie, Jet Force Gemini, Perfect Dark, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, the Viva games, and Jetpac Refueled.) and honestly there isn’t really a bad game in this pack, though like I said the pre-NES games are a bit confusing on how to play and what your motivation is but they are worth a play and some are worth battling through (Jetpac, Sabre Wulf, Knight Lore, Gunfight).
In gaming you’re not going to find a better value. 13 of these games have many hours’ worth of gaming in order to just beat them, let alone trying to collect everything in them if you’re a completionist.
Since this is our first video game review I wanted to lay out how we rate games. I didn’t want to give it your basic star or number scale; I wanted something more unique, plus people get too caught up with the number scale rating, if a game they like gets a 9.5 and a game they didn’t like (or gasp an exclusive for a system they don’t like) gets say a 9.8 they lose their shit. With all that in mind I came up with this scale:
Avoid At All Costs: Meaning don’t play this game, don’t even look at this game, run in the other direction.
Borrow it: It’s not really worth your money, but isn’t too bad, if a friend has it borrow it and check it out.
Rent it: The game is fun and worth a play. Or the game is super short and can be beaten very easily with little to no replay value. (I will specify which of the two I mean in the reviews)
Buy it: This game is well worth your money and you should go out and get it.
Play the Hell Out of it: Not only should you buy this game but it has so much to offer that just beating the game isn’t enough, you need to explore everything it has to offer and do your best to try and get a perfect gamer score (or all the trophies PS owners).
With that said, Rare Replay gets a Play the Hell Out of it rating from us. For just $30 it’s a hell of a value and there are 30 games on here with so much content. Since I got my copy on Tuesday, I haven’t played any other game, and that’s not just because of this review, but because there is just so much to do. The only downside to this collection is it’s tough for me to focus one game. One minute I’m playing Jet Force Gemini and the next I want to play Banjo-Kazooie. It’s like Christmas morning as a kid and you got a couple of games from Santa, you weren’t sure which you wanted to play first.
One last note to touch on, I’ve read in other reviews about slowdowns on some of the X-Box Live Arcade ports of the games, I did not experience that (or if I did it wasn’t noticeable) so I didn’t cover that in my review, though the reviews I’ve read that mentioned to slowdowns said they were nothing to be concerned about.
If you’re a Rare fan then you’ve probably already purchased this game and if you haven’t yet, what in the world are you waiting for? Get out there and buy this game!