Rare Replay is one of those games I found myself excited for yet didn’t know why. As if I was brainwashed at an unknown point and the sight of Rare’s logo activated subliminal programming forcing me to think, “Oh shit, I fucking need this.” Maybe I was just excited that Microsoft finally unveiled a Xbox One exclusive fans cared about that wasn’t Halo or Gears of War. Or maybe it was the fact the Xbox One would have more N64 games available on it than even Nintendo’s own Wii U’s shop. I can’t remember the reason either. Regardless, $30 bucks for 30 games isn’t a bad deal, especially since Rare has some gems.
This game is straight for the nostalgia junkies. Especially for the nuts who still rant that the N64 was the last good system. Perfect Dark, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Banjo-Kazooie (and it’s two other sequels), Killer Instinct Gold, Jet Force Gemini are just a few names to drop on this bundle and solid reasons to pick this up. I can’t speak much for Rare’s early and later games. I don’t know a soul who ever said they couldn’t wait to replay Kameo: Elements of Power or Viva Pinata, or a dozen mid 80s arcade games (when they were then known as Rareware) bundled in. Like opening a capsule from the distant past to a time when nu-metal was cool.
I’m not much for nostalgia. Very few games age well and fewer pique my interest long enough to give them thought after 10-25 years. How can you when games are being released like clockwork on a breakneck pace? Or with their ever increasing sophistication? Rare Replay reminds me of when weird ass games managed to stand out because being weird was a trademark. Games like Battletoads or even Jet Force Gemini, which is weird as shit, has something special to it. Granted it plays kinda shitty by today’s standards it’s worth a replay to at least consider how cutting edge this was 16 years ago. I don’t have anything I can compare it to other than say it’s a product of the N64 era of games, with their especially weird ass controller scheme. It’s a shooter but not overtly violent as was Nintendo’s notorious ways. You’re enemies are a cross between Stitch from “Lilo & Stitch” and those ants from “A Bug’s Life”. You work to save animals that look like cheaper Ewoks. Yet once the screen starts flashing from the cutting edge tech only 1999 could provide, you can feel the excitement still exists.
I can’t help but feel a lot of love went into the collection. I can only imagine the wave of nostalgia a developer who has been around with the company long enough to remember being called Rareware must have felt looking at old work. Carefully curating the games to make it look just a little cleaner, a little bit shinier like you imagined it did when you were a tiny tot. It’s also a refreshing look at a portfolio of games from a company that was unafraid to be whimsical, bizarre, funny, weird and challenging at the same time. I can’t say I love every game but I do love the collection itself. This is how nostalgia should be done if it must be brought up at all. A joyous look back at a company who hopefully has more left in them to give. And besides, it’s summer so there’s no other games out right now and you’re desperate for something exclusive on the Xbox One, so treat yourself to a surprising buffet.
Mandatory Score: 8 out of 1738
Lots of great content at an unbeatable price. Those who first played games during the PS3 era will wonder why the hell anyone still wants to play these games. Gamers who remember that arcades were actual places and not just the name of “those old game” combo packs will eat this up. Me and my trap queen enjoy some throwbacks.