Platform Xbox One
Developer Rare Ltd. Publisher Microsoft Studios
Genre Various/Arcade Collection
When Rare Replay was initially announced, gamers everywhere reverted back to their younger selves, reliving memories of entire days lost to playing iconic titles such as Battletoads, Perfect Dark, Banjo Kazooie, and Jetpac. With the game now available, is the package worth picking up? It certainly sounds appealing at first glance, and as you dedicate more time to the bundle, the stronger your affection will become.
For those unaware, Rare Replay offers 30 unique games in a single package. These games are all made available in their entirety, including their multiplayer modes where they exist. In some instances, most notably the games which experienced a stint on the Xbox 360 via the Xbox Live Arcade, the graphics have been given a slight overhaul and the dimensions of the screen have been expanded to fit modern televisions. When this is not the case, Rare has provided artistic and charming borders to surround the standard definition displays, also allowing gamers to modify the appearance of the screen to something more fitting a classic arcade title, complete with convex screen. While the latter is a minor detail, and has a tendency to blur the already dated graphics, it is an option offering more nostalgic charm or increased difficulty to those who wish to play the arcade titles as they may have experienced them in a physical arcade setting.
In addition to 30 complete games, which by themselves offer countless hours of value, there is also a game mode titled “Snapshots.” This mode provides players with specific challenges of increasing difficulty in almost all of the games. These challenges may be something as simple as defeating a boss without dying or as difficult as making it through an entire level without being damaged. Upon completion of each challenge, the reward is a stamp placed one a punchcard, acting as a leveling system within Rare Replay. As you fill punchcards with stamps, you gain levels, which in turn unlock videos showcasing concept art, behind the scenes information, or interviews with members of development teams from various titles. Some of the most memorable moments in these clips come from seeing the individuals who voice your favourite Rare characters. While the finished products often involved audio tweaking, it can be shocking to see the diversity of characters played by the talented individuals working for Rare. There are also tidbits of information which may not be widely known, such as inspirations for specific design choices or concepts which were reluctantly excluded from games for one reason or another. Some many not view these videos as adding substantial value to the title, but this extra content truly does enrich the package and rewards players for accepting those challenges.
There are two noticeable downsides to the collection of older games, although both of them are unfortunate inevitabilities when dealing with a selection of titles older than a portion of the gamers who may purchase the package. The first is the fact that the older games tend to have absolutely terrible control mechanics which are not precise by any means. If the game has a 2.5D view, it can be even more challenging, highlighted prominently in Knight Lore. The game has sections of platforming requiring precise movement and navigating obstacles which are not necessarily displayed in a simple manner due to the limitations of gaming at the time of original release. Attempting to walk around a spiked ball which will cause instant death can be far more intimidating than their simple description suggests due to the inability to maneuver properly around it from the current viewpoint. There is certainly a steep learning curve associated with the older titles and their archaic controls, but simultaneously, part of what made those games so challenging in the first place was their less than precise gameplay.
The second hiccup found in Rare Replay is the method in which the player must obtain instructions on how to play each of the games in the collection. While some titles such as Perfect Dark may require very little use of an instruction manual thanks to the general consensus of controls used in FPS games, the older arcade titles, or any game you have never experienced before may have commands you are unaware of yet have very significant functions. A prime example of this issue is found in Lunar Jetman, which allows players to pull steel girders from their lunar rover in order to cover up trenches. Unfortunately, unless you have previous experience with the title or happen to press a single button while standing in front of your vehicle, you would never know about this action and would be unable to progress in the game. While Rare has certainly provided a solution to this by granting access to instruction manuals for each title, they are all located in the Xbox One’s Help menu which will snap to the side of the screen. Due to the sheer size of the title’s instruction manual, navigating this menu suffers from slight lag and having to continuously click through menus in order to familiarize yourself with each title’s control schemes can be tiresome after a while. The inclusion of instruction manuals, and occasionally some tips, is a blessing, although the method it is provided leaves something to be desired.
The variety of titles offered in Rare Replay is absolutely astounding, and keeps the bundle feeling fresh. If you feel the urge to drastically shift genres, it is almost guaranteed you will find something to suit your new desire within Rare Replay. This is perhaps what makes the package of games seem even more impressive, as the games are so different from one another while offering a wealth of content. Rare has ensured a fantastic sampling of their work, up to and including remastered versions of games from the Xbox 360 have been included in the collection and the end result is a fantastic bundle anyone can enjoy with ease. There are even options as to how you would like the games to be displayed with Rare Replay, allowing the titles to be listed alphabetically or in order of release date.
Housing a plethora of previous titles, Rare Replay offers gamers the chance to play through some of the most iconic games the developer has ever created in one convenient package. The titles offered range from racing and platforming, to first person shooters and fighting, allowing people from all gaming backgrounds to find something they will enjoy. The extra content provided via punchcards and videos only adds to the already impressive value and further encourages players to try each and every title in the bundle. While there are some minor issues which players will likely notice, none of them are so significant as to detract from their enjoyment for any lengthy period of time. Rare Replay is a must-buy for anyone looking to experience great games of the past or searching for a single game which will offer dozens if not hundreds of hours of enjoyment, and has effectively upped the ante for any collection of titles released in the future. The association of high quality games with the Rare logo is something that is touched upon in one of the videos and it has never been more evident than in Rare Replay.
- Amazing diversity of games offered
- Snapshots provide unique challenges for the majority of titles
- Unlockable video content adds even more value to the bundle
- Instruction manuals have been created for each unique title
- Instruction manuals only found in laggy Xbox One Help menu
- Any issues found in original releases of older arcade games are still included
The Score: 9.0
Eric is an Xbox editor for Analog Addiction where you can find all the latest gaming news, previews, reviews, and everything else that rhymes with those words. ‘Like’ Analog Addiction on Facebook to receive all of the updates as they’re posted.