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Rare Replay Review: 30 Years of Glory

/ Aug 13th, 2015 No Comments

Rare Replay Review

Few game developers can boast a 30-year run in the industry, and even fewer can boast such a run that has mostly been a series of hits. While much of Rare‘s success was found during the Nintendo 64 era, its arcade and Xbox 360 lineups cannot be discredited. The developer’s latest title is a collection that brings many of its past hits together in one game.

Rare Replay serves as a love letter to the company, and a trip down memory lane for those who have fond recollections of Rare’s games. The collection includes 30 games from Rare’s past, and if that isn’t enough, there are some added features and goodies for long-time fans.

Not Just Battletoads

Spanning 30 years of gaming history, Rare Replay is a gathering of Rare-owned properties. People able to play Battletoads and quickly switch over to Banjo-Kazooie is worth price of admission alone ($30 retail price), but there’s also 28 other titles included.

All games are avaliable to play in their original glory, with only minor graphical updates. This means Battletoads is just as frustrating, Banjo-Kazooie just as beautiful and Jet Force Gemini just as bug-ridden (as in enemies).

Rare Replay

I finally made it to Valhalla, my warrior’s death was at the hands of Snacker of course.

Players can unlock a new set of Xbox achievements that unlock in-game videos featuring developer interviews and diaries regarding many of the games featured. Hearing famed composer Grant Kirkhope discuss making Rare’s music is like hearing Zeus talk about the finer points of lightning. The entire Rare Replay collection isn’t just a smorgasbord of features and things to look at. Great care was taken to represent the developer’s rich history, and the games handle smooth as ever.

Conker’s Good Gameplay

Gamers trying many of Rare’s back catalog for the first time need to bear in mind the challenges ahead. Each of the arcade classics handle well but are incredibly difficult. These unforgiving titles of yesteryear offer intense challenges that will soak up countless hours. Jetpac and Sabrewulf are the best examples of this. These games seem simple at first, but are unforgiving and dauntless.

Rare Replay

An HD remaster and the original version? Oh Rare, you should’t have…

With the sheer number of games in Rare Replay, there is something for all types of gamers. Banjo-Kazooie runs smooth, but titles like Blast Corps feel a bit sluggish. Perfect Dark offers strategy, and Conker’s Bad Fur Day is for the serial killer in all of us. Essentially, Rare Replay is not just an entrée, it is a full multi-course meal. Some of the titles show their age on current-gen consoles, but the collection stands the test of time as a whole.

True fans of Rare will be more than satisfied. The developer was able to update its collection by bringing everything together, but it is also stayed true to what made these games great in the first place. For instance, the Conker’s Bad Fur Day in the game is the original Nintendo 64 version rather than the toned down Live & Reloaded remake for Xbox 360.

Grant Kirkhope is God

The game’s menu screen organizes titles from oldest to newest, walking players through a virtual art museum of Rare’s history. This shows the steady progression of gaming through time, but there are a few large gaps in time, especially from the Nintendo 64 titles to those originally featured on the Xbox 360.

Rare’s cartoonish stylings show throughout each title and give them all a timeless feel. Even older titles like Sabrewulf shine with their retro graphics. Since these game released before the HD era, frames surround them on television screens, and there was even attention paid to this small detail. The visually pleasing frames give players the feeling of looking at an arcade cabinet.

Rare Replay

Good luck playing this one drunk.

While there are a number of people who deserve credit for Rare’s masterful scores (namely David Wise and Steve Burke), Grant Kirkhope is the undisputed king of composing. His musical scores withstand the test of time even when the games don’t. Sound is mostly the same as its original counterpart, but some cleaning up makes the music and effects clear. Banjo-Kazooie is the star of the show, but each game shows off Rare’s ear for music.

Rare, Worth a Replay

It is difficult to rate Rare Replay without getting caught up in nostalgia. Graphics and sound have been somewhat cleaned up, but we’ve played all these games before. Having the rewind feature for the arcade games helps a lot in beating difficult challenges, and achievements will satisfy those players hungry for more gamerscore.

If gamers have never been a fan of Rare’s lineup, odds are this won’t change their minds. However, this is a solid collection of well-made titles with added bonus features at an incredibly fair price. Rare Replay is a tip of the hat to many gamers’ childhoods, and it deserves a standing ovation.

Rare Replay was reviewed on Xbox One using a copy of the game purchased by the reviewer.


Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson

Associate Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Greg is a Nintendo fanboy who would cry if they ever went third party. He writes news, previews and reviews at Gaming Illustrated.
Greg Johnson

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Gaming Illustrated RATING



While some of the titles are still needlessly difficult, the rewind feature of Rare Replay is a much welcomed feature.


Some of the games in Rare Replay show their age, but for the most part the cartoonish vibe still thrives.


Rare still astounds the ears to this day with their whimsical tunes and ear for catchy melodies.


So many different games, with such diverse plots, yet they all come together right as rain.