Rev Your Retro Reflexes for Rare Replay
Is this Battletoads? Wait… it is?
After years and years of players saying that they want to see more Rare games from Microsoft, the company announced that they’re giving us just that (perhaps a little literally) in Rare Replay.
$39.99 CAD gets you 30 games, including (by way of Xbox Wire‘s press release):
- Jetpac (1983, 1-2 players) – A single-screen shooter where Jetman must reassemble and fuel his rocket while fending off alien hordes.
- Atic Atac (1983, 1 player) – A top-down adventure with increased replayability, thanks to randomized object locations and three different character classes.
- Lunar Jetman (1983, 1-2 players) – A return to the Jetpac sidescrolling formula, but with a scrolling, randomly generated landscape and much more to do.
- Sabre Wulf (1984, 1-2 players) – A classic jungle maze game and the first appearance of explorer Sabreman, tackling dangers including the vicious ’Wulf itself.
- Underwurlde (1984, 1 player) – Rare’s first true platform game. Help Sabreman survive the perils of the Underwurlde and escape through one of three exits.
- Knight Lore (1984, 1 player) – The introduction of Ultimate’s groundbreaking isometric Filmation engine. Sabreman must scour the castle for items to cure his werewolf curse.
- Gunfright (1986, 1-2 players) – A Wild West spin on the isometric style, with an improved engine and new first-person target-shooting sections.
- Slalom (1987, 1-2 players) – Rare’s first console game. Make it to the bottom of each course before time runs out, while avoiding trees, sledders, snowmen, and other skiers.
- R.C. Pro-Am (1988, 1 player) – A responsive racing game that inspired elements of Rare’s future racers, including speed boosts, upgrades, and collectible power-ups littered around the track.
- Cobra Triangle (1989, 1 player) – Hop into a boat and power through a branching game world, completing challenges such as shooting targets, disposing of mines, and defeating leviathans.
- Snake Rattle N Roll (1990, 1-2 players) – A fast-paced isometric adventure. Rattle and Roll must eat Nibbley-Pibbleys until they’re heavy enough to ring a bell and open the exit.
- Digger T. Rock (1990, 1-2 players) – A 2D platformer, in which Digger must find an exit switch, stand on it, then make it to the exit in 60 seconds.
- Solar Jetman (1990, 1 player) – A game built around exploration and physics; Jetman has to tow fuel and other items to his mothership.
- Battletoads (1991, 1-2 players) – Skill and perseverance as required as the ’Toads take on multiple game styles to rescue Pimple and Princess Angelica from the Dark Queen.
- R.C. Pro-Am II (1992, 1-4 players) – This sequel to R.C. Pro-Am features a wider variety of environments, more car customization options, and bonus games.
- Battletoads Arcade (1994) – The first Battletoads game to allow all three ‘Toads to play simultaneously. It has never had a home release… until now!
- Killer Instinct Gold (1996, 1-2 players) – The home version of Killer Instinct 2 features several multiplayer modes (including tournament mode), and a training dojo.
- Blast Corps (1997, 1 player) – This cult classic sports a fleet of destructive vehicles (from bulldozers to robots), used to clear the path for a runaway nuclear missile carrier.
- Banjo-Kazooie (1998, 1 player) – A 3D platformer adventure, wherein Banjo and Kazooie must take on the evil witch Gruntilda, who’s kidnapped Banjo’s sister Tooty and plans to steal her beauty.
- Jet Force Gemini (1998, 1-4 players) – This interstellar action adventure mixes third-person exploration and alien-blasting action, as the last three JFG members go up against Mizar.
- Perfect Dark (2000, 1-4 players) – In this stealth-based shooter set in the year 2030, players lead secret agent Joanna Dark against the DataDyne Corporation, uncovering an alien conspiracy that takes her around the world.
- Banjo-Tooie (2000, 1-4 players) – This sequel builds on Banjo-Kazooie with larger worlds, separately controllable characters, multiplayer modes, and many more moves to learn.
- Conker’s Bad Fur Day (2001, 1-4 players) – A beloved comedy adventure that mixes up lots of genres (platformer, third-person shooting, racing) with mature humor, pop culture references, and parodies.
- Grabbed by the Ghoulies (2003, 1 player) – Rare’s first Xbox game! A comic book beat-’em-up, set in a haunted house filled with breakable scenery and Ghoulies of all kinds.
- Perfect Dark Zero (2005, 1-4 players locally, up to 32 players online) – This Perfect Dark prequel reveals Joanna Dark’s origins, and fuses first-person shooting with third-person, cover-based combat.
- Kameo: Elements of Power (2005, 1-2 players locally or online) – A fantasy adventure focused on combat and exploration, with Kameo able to transform into 10 different Elemental Warriors.
- Viva Piñata (2006, 1-2 players locally) – A magical gardening/life sim, in which the player can cultivate a garden paradise, attract different Piñatas, and keep them safe from Professor Pester and his Ruffians.
- Jetpac Refuelled (2007, 1-2 players locally or online) – A modern update to Jetpac. Assemble and fuel your rocket before blasting off to the next of 128 challenging stages.
- Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (2008, 1-2 players locally, up to 4 players online) – A more open-ended, customizable approach to the Banjo series, with vehicle-based challenges set by L.O.G. (the Lord of Games).
- Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise (2008, 1-2 players locally or online) – The sequel to Viva Piñata features new species of piñatas, as well as desert and arctic regions to capture them from.
It’s a pretty decent grab bag from Rare’s 120 or so titles, spanning pretty much every generation they’ve been put to work on prior to the current one. Sadly, there are some omissions, ranging from the obvious (GoldenEye, anything with a “Kong” in it) to the disappointing (No Wizards & Warriors? Whyyyyyyy?).
In addition to the games themselves, there are going to be bonus features such as a documentary called “Rare Revealed” with more than an hour of footage talking about the studio’s history and how several major games were developed; concept art, info on unreleased games, and “Snapshots”, which has been compared to the challenges found in NES Remix. Rare has also included filters to simulate playing on an old CRT television, activated with a click of R3.
To my understanding, the first two Banjo-Kazooie titles and Perfect Dark are actually the Xbox Live Arcade versions, while Conker’s Bad Fur Day is the uncensored Nintendo 64 version instead of the Xbox version. Also, since Killer Instinct II apparently got some sort of release with the second season of the new Killer Instinct, Killer Instinct Gold is indeed the Nintendo 64 game of the same name. Sadly, no Killer Instinct from the Super NES here (I was always better at that one).
Via Polygon, Rare says that licensing wasn’t the issue with GoldenEye, but rather that they were more interested in the “pure Rare” games:
“It wasn’t necessarily licensing. Going back to the criteria — ‘is it Rare characters, is it Rare worlds?’ — GoldenEye doesn’t really fit tightly in with that particular boundary that we put on there,” he said. “I feel that we got a great catalog to choose from.”
IGN says that Rare Replay is a different type of compilation experience, in part due to Rare handling the job themselves. “Tellingly, the project hasn’t been outsource, with a third-party porting over titles. Rare is in total control, not only selecting the games but combining them into an experience full of the character and charm associated with its original output.”
Over the last 30 years, Rare has accumulated a diverse body of work. There’s different styles, genres, and tones, which in theory could make for an awkward collection. But this problem is elegantly overcome through some witty presentation. Rare Replay is framed as an elaborate theatre production put on by Banjo, Joanna Dark, and Conker, who are eager to relive their past adventures in front of a new audience. Each game is represented by a charming title screen which resembles a piece of set design. Once you press start, the world of the theatre is left behind and you’re transported into the game. Rare hasn’t simply crammed a bunch of old assets from the attic onto a disc; it’s fashioned a Muppet Show style reality for its characters and games to exist side-by-side, and it’s quite lovely.
A Rare-styled Muppet Show? That almost sounds worth the price of admission by itself.
On a personal note, I was surprised to learn that I actually haven’t played a lot of Rare’s output — at least not as much as I thought I had, and apparently most of what I have played isn’t on this disc (Wizards & Warriors, for example) there’s a lot here I’ve been interested in, but never touched. R.C. Pro-Am and its sequel, Battletoads Arcade, the Banjo-Kazooie trilogy, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Blast Corps, and Jet Force Gemini are pretty much what have long had my curiosity piqued, though I am interested in others such as Solar Jetman (played as a kid, didn’t care for it; I’m curious if more patience with age makes it better). Meanwhile, my wife remembers Cobra Triangle very fondly.
That said, I hope with all the titles included here that they’ve left enough good stuff for a sequel — I still want my Wizards & Warriors trilogy, dangit.
Rare Replay comes out for the Xbox One on August 4th.