Rare Replay – Nostalgia Overload
To say I have fond memories of Rare’s back catalogue is probably an understatement. Like many folks my age I grew up on games from this venerable British institution. From Snake: Rattle n Roll all they way up to Viva Pinata, some of my fondest gaming memories are courtesy of Rare. So when Microsoft announced a 30 game Rare collection at E3 I was understandably excited. But that is when the doubts began to set in. Would these much loved games from my past still be fun to play? Luckily in most cases the answer is a resounding yes.
Packages such as these in the past have had mixed success in bring back classic games. Often they are rushed and simply put out to cash in on gamer’s good will and fond recollections. I can heartily say that this is not the case with Rare Replay. This is a collection built with love for old and new fans alike. There is a reverence for the past that I can almost feel and brings a big ole smile to my face.
The first thing I noticed about this collection is the extra mile Rare have gone. The presentation is top notch and there is an abundance of unlockable features, art, movies and other tidbits that add that extra incentive to play through all of the games on offer. I found myself often chasing high scores just so I could unlock the next “making of” video in the main menu. Everything was presented in an entertaining manner and nothing is just slapped together. Perhaps the only strange thing about the whole group of games is how the Xbox 360 games have been packaged. These are simply the backwards compatible versions of the original releases and as such are downloaded separately from the rest of the collection. I found it to be a little bit of a disconnect having the 360 emulator load up after being in the slick main menu. But that is quite a minor gripe in the grand scheme of things.
The games themselves are a mixed bag. Some of the older games, especially the ones in the Saberwulf series, haven’t held up that well and as such I can’t see myself going back to them that often. Luckily the vast majority of games have held up. Conker, Banjo, Joanna and Kameo are just as fun to play with now as they were back in the day. I have had a great time playing games I missed upon release as well. It has been amazing playing titles like Blast Corps and Grabbed by the Ghoulies for the first time. It is clear that a lot of these games, especially the N64 titles, were developed by a group of talented programmers and artists at the peak of their powers.
Rare Replay is one of best collections of this type available. It treats the players and games with respect and nothing at all screams cheap cash in. The value for money can also not be denied. This is something I can see myself coming back to for years to come and I am sure I am not the only one. It is of course disappointing that Rare’s Nintendo licenced games are not here (in fact Nintendo could learn a lot about how they treat their past games from this collection) as they were some of their best games but it is really hard to be too upset with what is on offer. Anyone with fond memories of playing two player Battletoads, laughing at a foul mouthed squirrel or enjoying some time a bird and a bear should be heading to your local games store and picking this up. Game design has come a long way over the years but sometimes things can’t be improved on.