Review

Rare Replay: Celebrating 30 Years

30 games from 30 years for 30 bucks? It almost sounds too good to be true. Yet, here it is. The Microsoft-owned Rare dipped into its back catalog of around 120 titles and has brought us 30 of the best titles for your enjoyment on the Xbox One in the appropriately named Rare Replay.

Rare Replay is a lovingly crafted compilation that sets the bar high on what a game compilation should be like. Not only are the games flawless versions of their originals, but they add enhancements in certain circumstances as well. The older games include a rewind feature (simply hold the left trigger down to rewind time) that let you fix mistakes you are likely to make – especially if you are out of practice. There are also cheat modes such as infinite lives available so you won’t need to try and figure out where on earth a Game Genie would possibly go. The added option of a CRT screen filter makes the nostalgia leak out of this package even more intensely than I can possible express in words.

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We’ve seen compilations before over the years, with most of them relying on emulation to bring the original titles back to life. It looks like the same has happened here, in Rare Replay, with the Spectrum (a mostly European computer platform from the 80s), NES, Nintendo 64, arcade, and Xbox 360 platforms all being available in one spot. The games are not remasters, with the exception of Grabbed by the Ghoulies, but rather enhanced versions of the originals. Banjo Kazooie, Banjo Twooie and Perfect Dark are the Xbox 360 remasters so I guess I can’t say they aren’t all remastered.

Wisely, the Nintendo 64 version of Conker’s Bad Fur Day has been included (not the more family-friendly version that was remastered on the original Xbox) which was one of my biggest fears in checking out this compilation. I suspect it was for two reasons. First, there would be special licensing costs from Nvidia for emulating the original Xbox and second, I think the fans would go crazy if the original wasn’t here. The real cartridge on the Nintendo 64 currently sells for more than it did when it was new.

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If the value price of $1 per game isn’t enough for you, consider that there are also some special modes available for some early games that give you additional challenges and possible achievement points. If you are familiar with Nintendo’s NES Remix then you know exactly what I’m talking about. The inclusion of these additional challenges, as well as extras such as staff interview videos and concept art (and music) makes this collection almost too much to bear.

Don’t get me wrong, not every game here is going to have you jumping for joy. Even a seasoned gamer like myself finds some of the early Spectrum games a little hard to stick with and since these British games didn’t have the same impact in the North American market, the nostalgia hit isn’t quite as high. Yet when I called up the newer Kameo: Elements of Power, I couldn’t help but realize what a value packed release this is.

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If you have Xbox Live Gold and have your 360 saves in the cloud, you are going to see them and your previous achievements load up seamlessly. On the older games, you will get achievements just for trying them out (and even more for trying out all the games in a series such as all the Battletoads games). If you are looking for some easy achievements, just stepping through time will reward you handsomely.

Rare Replay is probably the only compilation review where the games don’t matter. They are from Rare. They are (mostly) all amazing and work as you would expect. The care and polish put into the overall compilation is beyond what I ever expected and has left us with what is arguably the absolute best value available on Xbox One today.

When I was a kid, we often called for a “Do Over” when things didn’t go the way we planned. Today, Rare Replay gives us the chance to be a kid again but not because things didn’t go well. In fact, it’s because they did. Don’t miss out on this title if you have an Xbox One.

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About the Author

Syd Bolton
Syd Bolton surrounds himself in thousands of classic video games as Canada’s top video game collector at the Personal Computer Museum in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. He plays all of the latest games on his 80" Sharp TV and provides the "Lost Treasures" segment during The OMG! Hour. Follow Syd on Twitter @sydbolton.