Rare Replay Review

Dan Webb

Rare is not only one of the UK’s most prestigious developers, but one of the finest in the world too. Their back catalogue is almost unrivalled in terms of variety and charm, and for 30 years the Midlands-based UK studio has been delighting gamers with its humour, its originality and its nuttiness. Sure, they might have lost their way slightly, somewhat, in recent years, almost being forced to create Kinect titles, but with Sea of Thieves set to mark their return to more original titles in 2016, what better way to celebrate 30 years of Rare with a compilation of some of their greatest titles. A definite must buy for video game fans the world over.

"Battletoads is still hard as nails. What joy!"

With such a diverse back-catalogue of titles to choose from, Rare’s selection policy could almost have made or broke the game. Thankfully, pretty much all of their iconic titles are on show, which is no easy feat considering they have over 100 titles under their belt across a multitude of platforms.

The collection has it all, from their 80s classics like Jetpac, Slalom and Cobra Triangle, to 90s favourites like Snake Rattle N Roll, Battletoads and Banjo-Kazooie, and on top of that, pretty much all of their more recent iconic works like Perfect Dark, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Viva Pinata and Kameo are all present and correct. There’s also some of their lesser works included too, like Grabbed By The Ghoulies, which is surprisingly fun, and the not yet seen on console, Battletoads Arcade, which is chuffin’ aces.

The only notable exception is, of course, Goldeneye, but I’m confident we’ll see hell freeze over before that one gets out of license limbo.

The games themselves are pretty much untouched, so don’t expect any visual overhauls or what not – which would have been nice in a few cases – but for a budget price, you can’t have any grumbles on that front whatsoever. Some of them are a touch buggy and quite a few of the 80s and 90s titles have dodgy as hell controls and some wonkaloid cameras – it makes you realise how far we’ve come in 30 years! What would have been nice is some kind of tutorial as well, particularly for the older games – I’ll be damned if I can remember how to play half of these retro games. Yes, we’ve become lazy in this day and age of video games.

"Good ol’ Banjo is in the collection… 3 times!"

Some of the older games of the collection are frustratingly hard… even ones I remember ploughing tons of hours into as a kid and never having any issues, further proving that as gamers, we definitely have it easy these days. To combat that, Rare have introduced a rewind feature in the retro games, allowing you to rewind a short amount of time in case you mess up, meaning that frustration is no more. Fair play to anyone that can get through some of them without using that feature. It’s a lifesaver.

What’s brilliant about the collection is the attention to detail. Sure, the games are largely untouched, but the presentation and interface of the menu screens and what not are fab. The 4:3 aspect ratio games have cool, custom created backdrops; you can click the right stick on the retro games and give them an old TV overlay to take you right back to your childhood; and possibly the most impressive aspect: the impressive behind-the-scenes content, which ranges from videos, music and art assets from your favourite franchises and more. The content themselves is worth a watch, if only for the candid opinions of the Rare team as they recollect their experiences.

There’s even a few cool tidbits in there about titles that never saw the light of day. As heartbreaking as it is to see Kameo 2 content as we’ll not likely ever see it, it was a pleasure to plough through what is effectively the history of Rare. Rather annoyingly though, a lot of it needs to be unlocked by hitting milestones and levelling up, but when you do unlock it, it’s almost worth the effort.

Other than the fact that there’s 30 games to sink your teeth into, some you might be familiar with, some you might not, there’s more to Rare Replay than just that. Aside from the aforementioned behind the scenes features and what not, there’s what Rare are calling Snapshots. The Snapshots section is basically a challenge arena, with 16 games, each with 5 preset challenges, for gamers to get stuck into. If you’re feeling brave, then there’s the Snapshot Playlist, which pits you against a variety of challenges across a number of games, but with a limited number of lives to keep an eye on. A worthy and really addictive aspect to Rare Replay, somewhere you can truly hone your skills.

"Rare even included this J Allard lookalike for nostalgia’s sake."

You’re going to need to clear a lot of space on your hard drive for this one, folks, somewhere in the region of 50GBs. All the games are accessed from the Rare Replay hub, but in regards to the Xbox 360 games, players will need to download them separately. Yes, they can be accessed from the Rare Replay hub, but unlike the other games which take you directly back to the hub, the 360 games will not. Thankfully though, the hub will already recognise your achievement progress in said 360 games and reward you based on how well you did – with that progress unlocking more behind the scenes videos and what not.

On top of all that goodness, there’s 10,000 Gamerscore to sink your teeth into. Well, 4,000 within the Rare Replay package, plus an extra 6,000 on top of that for all the already-released 360 titles. That’s a lot of achievements. Seriously. There’s a good mix too, that range from play this game all the way through to complete this game. Obviously there’s a few interesting ones in-between with a bit of originality and creativity, but all in all, there’s a good spread. It’s largely by-the-numbers, but there’s plenty to keep you going until Rare’s next title, Sea Of Thieves, ships. That’s for sure. Ships… get it?

While Rare Replay might not be a ground-breaking amount of effort on Rare’s part when it comes to what they potentially could have done, it is a stunning package for video game fans though, one that perfectly tracks Rare’s rise to the top and one of the most impressive value for money collections we’ve seen. The sheer breadth and diversity of the games is almost breath-taking and is a testament to the UK studio. Rare Replay tells us what we already know about one of the world’s most celebrated developers: that they’ve had one hell of a history, meaning Rare Replay is an offer you just can’t refuse.

Yes, the original game audio still remains, and yes, it’s still as good. As are the scores. As is that new Rare Replay theme tune they created. It’s so catchy!

While the games haven’t really been given a lick of paint or anything, the UI and the hub is fantastically presented and delivered. It’s enough to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

There’s no doubt about it, some of the older games are as wonky as a three-legged cow and some of the newer ones aren’t stunning either. It serves as a reminder as to how far we’ve come since the beginning of last-gen though.

30 games in one hell of an amazing package, one that does one of the world’s most renowned developers the justice they deserve.

With 4,000 Gamerscore in the Rare Replay package, and 6,000 tied to the older 360 titles, there’s enough variety and intrigue for achievement hunters of all types and of all ages.

Rare Replay is undoubtedly an insane amount of value for money, shining a light on one of the world’s most celebrated developers and 30 of their biggest titles. A great mix with some classics, not so classics and games that slipped under our radar, all brought together with slick presentation and an incredible amount of fan service. All hail Rare.

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