From the moment you first start Rare Replay, you are hit with two thoughts. Wow! They really went all out on this and OH GOOD LORD! What am I going to play first? With thirty games spanning thirty years, this celebration compilation sets a new benchmark for all other game omnibus releases.
But it isn’t without it’s flaws. There are literally thirty full titles in this collection, spanning the growth of a company known to all in the industry. As a result, not all of these titles are knock-out hits. On one side of the spectrum you have great titles like Banjo Kazooie, Perfect Dark, and Conker’s Bad Fur Day (A guilty pleasure of yours truely). On the other side of the coin there are titles like Grabbed by the Goulies and Perfect Dark Zero. Amongst the newer titles were a plethora of older titles like the original Jetpac and R.C. Pro-Am, which were before my time and while I had heard of them, had never gotten around to playing. Thanks to this game I finally did.
And let’s address the elephant in the room, Donkey Kong and Goldeneye (argueably two of Rare’s greatest successes) are missing due to legalities and licensing. But while they may be missing, there is still a lot to love about this game, which has something for everyone, even if our monkey and espionage friends didn’t join the party.
The whole game is presented in a unique cardboard cutout style theatric full of playful transitions, witty banter and even it’s own musical number all about, you guessed it, Rare. Dig deeper and you will find a trove of treasures, including challenges for all retro titles and making-of style featurettes that unlock as you play more and more of the game (some of which can only be found here).
Graphically, the games hold up about as well as you would expect. The retro games work perfectly and the inclusion of save states and a un-punished rewind ability make these games a treat to play and games like battletoads become playable without inhuman gaming ability. Moving up to the Nintendo 64 era, some of these games hold up better than others. Noteable blurry text and jaggy cutscenes are present in most of these titles however the textures and framerate during gameplay run quite smoothly in my play testing.The emulated Conker was still witty and fun and full of naughty goodness and Blast Corp. was a blast…pun intended. The Banjo-Kazooie releases are their previous Xbox Live Arcade releases and are the N64 games we remember with a graphical update. Sadly though, Killer Instinct Gold, a staple of my childhood, was just lackluster in gameplay. It staggered, and glitched and it just was a far cry from the frantic fun I remember.
Further on the negative scale, All titles re-released on XBLA such as Banjo Kazooie and the 360 games like Viva Pinata and Kameo all boot out to an Xbox 360 emulator which takes significantly longer to load than other titles in the collection, and also draw you out of the magic that they worked so hard to make with the menu and presentation of this game. Some of these 360 emulated titles also suffer from strange and random framerate dips not present in the original games, which is particularly noticeable in Banjo Kazooie Nuts & Bolts.
But negatives aside, I cannot recommend this collection enough. The minor inconsistencies here and there are easy to forgive given the scope of monetary and nostalgic value here. Not all of the games are perfect but this title defines a new standard which all developers should strive for in endeavoring to produce a video game compilation.