Rare Replay comes packed with 30 different titles from throughout Rare's long and illustrious existence, making it one of the biggest no-brainers in gaming.
For years gamers have been asking for Microsoft to tap into its library of Rare IP to bring them a new installment of Banjo-Kazooie, Conker, Viva Piñata, and many more. While it's safe to say that Microsoft has been sitting on these beloved franchises for no good reason thus far, the hardware manufacturer finally gave fans something by announcing Rare Replay during its E3 2015 press conference.
Toting the appeal of this collection as '30 games for $30', Rare Replay is bursting with the trademark personality and nostalgia that gamers have come to expect from Rare. Classic games in all of their former glory, and even more recent installments that debuted on the Xbox 360, are part of the bundle, which makes this purchase an obvious one for gamers. That said, there are a handful of things that detract from the overall experience.
It would be pointless to try to individually assess the quality of each and every game in Rare Replay, because that task would warrant individual reviews of their own. Instead, the presentation of these games and a general overview of what they offer is the best route to take – starting with the most important thing about this massive collection, the games.
As previously mentioned, there are 30 different titles included within the package that chart a range in console generations and quality. Games that were released more recently have been ported over with very few problems, making them just as much fun to play as they were when they originally arrived on Nintendo 64/Xbox/Xbox 360. On Xbox One, however, some of the controls don't align all that well with the existing controller.
Classic arcade games can be puzzling at first, with different buttons executing various actions across the board. Part of the challenge certainly comes from mastering the unique button layout of each title, but the end result will leave fans very aware that these games were not initially designed with the Xbox One controller (let alone any gamepad) in mind – making them often awkward to control. Mastering multiple control schemes becomes an essential part of Rare Replay as well, because players will need to play through a number of scenarios across all of the games to earn 'Stamps'.
Earning a Stamp is done by completing any number of challenges that accompany each and every one of the 30 games included in this collection. Everything from Jetpack to Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts have different challenges for players to complete, and doing so will net players Stamps on a digital card that showcases how much of a fan they are of Rare overall. Earning these adds a goal to the overall game, as leveling up and reaching new statuses unlocks bonus video content for longtime fans of the developer.
Tucked away under the 'Rare Revealed' banner, these brief documentary-style snippets provide gamers with a look into the design process of several games featured in Rare Replay – as well as scrapped projects and even unused music. The best part about these bite-sized documentaries is that they don't shy away from the company's past with Nintendo. Whether referencing Donkey Kong or specifically addressing Nintendo's involvement in the creation of Conker's Bad Fur Day, they aren't censored – giving Rare aficionados interesting insight into the games they love.
While most of the content featured in the package is existing ports, Rare has thrown in a mode known as 'Snapshots'. As the name implies, this mode is loaded with brief segments of gameplay from 16 of the 30 games included. Players are given challenges to complete, which in turn grants them additional Stamps. Most of these are timed challenges, and they give gamers a fun way to play through various scenarios that weren't previously present in their original games. With only five challenges per title, however, it's not all that difficult to tear through the Snapshots and amass a solid number of Stamps in the process.
It should also go without saying, but a game like Rare Replay usually comes with a number of achievements to gather. All in all, there are 10,000 Gamerscore points to earn, but 6,000 of those points are tied to the Xbox 360 ports. So those that have played the existing line of 360 titles will have a head start as a result, since they've likely already gathered a number of achievements, and they'll be awarded Stamps for those as well – although there aren't any additional achievements added to those games.
Rare Replay is exactly what's been advertised and it's so modestly priced that it's easily one of the biggest no-brainers in gaming. Anyone that was around to experience these original games will find more than enough nostalgia to warrant picking this up, while those being exposed to Rare's backlog of classic titles for the first time could very well see why the developer has reached an iconic level amongst many gamers. While a few games may be missing from the final package (i.e. GoldenEye 007 and Conker: Live & Reloaded) and the controls have a tricky learning curve for some games, the end result is something that is more than worth checking out for Xbox One owners.
Rare Replay is available exclusively for Xbox One on August 4, 2015.