Ah Rare, there was a time in several gamers lives that you made some of the most fun games available at the time. Now, I don’t know, it just feels hard to Kinect with you….(I’m sorry). Puns that probably work better in audio format aside, Rare truly did make some great games back in the day, however after being acquired by Microsoft, Rare was forced to put their desired projects on hold and make motion based sports games that people still totally play today…. I know I sound salty, but there is a good reason for it. Rare Replay is a strong reminder as to what fun games can truly be.
Full disclosure, some of these games I have played previously and I am sure most of you have too. But there are some popular titles on here that I did not play either, such as Perfect Dark. Either way, it should be a fun romp down memory lane. Now let’s review the rules since it has been a bit since the last one: I will play each title for exactly 10 minutes, no more or less. Once I am done, the opinions I write will be raw and made immediately after the timer has ended. And since these games have all been placed in chronological order for me, then that is the order that I will play in. So without further ado, it’s time for glory!
Build a rocket ship, get fuel for it, and shoot aliens along the way. Rinse and repeat. Not too different from most 80’s arcade games. If anything I would say its playstyle is similar to Joust, except I can actually tell what the heck is going on in this game. I made it to Level 3 though, and that is definitely a thing.
LUNAR JETMAN (1983):
Astronaut Larry (At least that’s his name in my head canon) has returned from Jetpac in a game where I have no idea what to do. Seriously, it just gives a time limit and fuel and says go. There are weird enemies flying around everywhere that can one hit you, and they are much faster than you. It’s like a weird beta version of Bullet Hell. This was a step in the wrong direction.
ATIC ATAC (1983):
I forgot how quickly they could shove these games out back in the day. The idea is to explore what appear to be randomly generated mazes and find certain keys. You can choose three different classes: Knight, Wizard, and Serf (what?). The hit box is a little large and you can only carry three items at a time, which includes the keys you find. Though I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do with the other items I found.
SABRE WULF (1984):
Gee, I guess that’s a name they won’t use again. Another maze game like the last one, except it’s in a jungle, and a wolf is chasing me. Also, my defense/offense is pitiful, I can only take on hit and my weapon is my walking cane. I seriously I died 3 times before leaving the first room. I guess the point is to just run, but if enemies are everywhere that is kind of hard to do, especially considering how loose the controls feel. At least I can walk really fast.
UNDER WURLDE (1984):
Apparently mazes were the flavor of the month in 1984 because this is third one in a row. The Safari guy is back from the last game, but things are quite different. This time I can jump and shoot bubbles….The controls are just horrid, because his jumping mechanic is not only hard to aim, but he tends to ricochet off anything he touches, including enemies. That’s right, they don’t hurt you, enemies just bounce you around forever and ever, making me wish death was an option.
KNIGHT LORE (1984)
WE GET IT! YOU LIKED MAZES!! What were you guys all fascinated by children’s place mats whenever you sat down at a restaurant? Seriously, this is the 4th one in less than a year! I don’t care if it does have a different perspective and texture, it’s still a maze game. The only thing new here is that there is a day and night mechanic where I change from Safari Guy into what I am assuming is the Sabre Wulf literally every 17 seconds (no seriously, I timed it). Why? I dunno. Does it change the gameplay at all? Nope.
Safari Guy is back, but this time he finally figured out how to buy a gun. It seems that I am a Sheriff and I have to hunt down an outlaw. They don’t really tell you where this bounty is, though there seems to be a jumping kid who is trying to point me in the right direction, which still isn’t as helpful as you’d think. Also, why does touch a civilian kill me?
So they took a couple of years off and refocused on what they should make. And what did they make? Why a skiing game of course! I did well on the first course, failed horribly on the second one. Also, the music in this game sounds kind of Battletoad-ey, which is understandable. Control wise, it seems you need to angle out how you will bounce around the course. Oh and I did try to conquer the Mt. Nasty course, because I am 14 and I find that funny.
R.C. PRO-AM (1987):
Do you want to race big toy trucks with and drift all around a wet course? Of course you do! This is probably the most fun I have had so far. Which is especially high praise considering how much I just suck at racing games. What’s cool is that you can collect upgrades on the track and keep them even if you lose. This is definitely one of those titles though that you would love to play with a friend.
COBRA TRIANGLE (1989):
The most 80’s game title thus far. I made it about 4 missions into this one. You’re driving a boat and accomplishing various missions, but they definitely get tougher as you go along. You have a gun that can take out enemies along the way, though apparently wet logs are just immune gun fire…
SNAKE RATTLE N’ROLL (1990):
Welcome to the era only kids my age will remember in spite of the internet showing us its entire chronology, the 90’s! This time I was a snake and the idea was to eat enough things so I can ring a gong at the end and open a door. Fairly simple, except the controls were just not good. It felt like they were fighting me the whole time. And since this game had levels that were similar to let’s say Sonic 3D, it just did not work the way it needed to and simple gaps became an unnecessary challenge.
SOLAR JETMAN: THE HUNT FOR THE GOLDEN WARSHIP (1990):
Astronaut Larry is back!…and just as underwhelming as ever. It’s just a big wonder why Rare had such difficulty getting controls to work right. You’re in a space ship exploring around, except every time you use your jets to move in a certain direction, you’ll just keep going until you bounce off something or jet in a different direction. I’m assuming they were trying to emulate actually moving in space, but that’s dumb so don’t do that. Oh and for the record, the best Jetman of the 90’s was Black Condor of Chojin Sentai Jetman. Look it up.
DIGGER THE LEGEND OF THE LOST CITY STARRING DIGGER T. ROCK (1990):
So you’re a kid digging around and exploring for treasure and trying to find some door. Not sure why the long title is needed, but then again I didn’t exactly get far in 10 minutes. At least I can jump and defend myself in it. It’s a good start just not what it needed to be.
Don’t act like you weren’t waiting for this part. I like to consider this a real turning point for Rare as a company. This game was radically different from the predecessors thus far. No more gimmicks, no more “what am I supposed to do here” moments, and definitely no more mazes. This was a simple beat em up that actually had a story and some cool characters. And as simple as that is, that does not mean it does not come without its challenges. This game is still difficult just based on the simple fact that enemies want to and will kill you. And sadly, after all of these years…I still can’t get past the hover bike stage….25 years later, and it is still the bane of my existence. At least it still has the best pause music ever.
R.C. PRO-AM II (1992):
One title that did work before Battletoads was definitely R.C. Pro-Am. So I was definitely excited to play a sequel. Not too much has changed, except for the controls being tighter, and I can use GUNS! MURICA! It’s a fun element to add even if it doesn’t work super well. The game is still a blast in spite of my aforementioned suckitude at driving games.
BATTLETOADS: ARCADE (1994):
If ever there was an arcade game designed to eat your quarters, it was this one. Especially in the second level where you are on ice and it is nearly impossible to dodge. Luckily someone caught this and gave this game a cure all, infinite continues. That’s right, you cannot truly die, so feel free to beat this game in one playthrough. It should also be noted that this game is freaking violent as balls. Maybe it was that 90’s attitude coming through, but there is just so much freaking blood and death that you create your war path. It is just brutal for a game of that era. Oh and Zitz, Rash, and Pimple? Gross.
KILLER INSTINCT GOLD (1996):
No clue why the original isn’t on here, but I’m too lazy to look it up. I can say with certainty that the current iteration of this franchise is way more button masher friendly than Gold. I. Got. WRECKED. I went in first as Fulgore, made it to the 3rd fight against Sabre Wulf (because they just can’t let that name go), and at this point I did not pass GO or collect $200. I will say that I am thankful this game did do the transition to 3D like several other fighting titles soon would. That just never worked out.
BLAST CORPS (1997):
I’m pretty sure Nintendo Power had a comic series for this title. So let’s play a game that is literally all about wholesale destruction. Time to get moving! Why do I need to use a Bulldozer to level an entire town so that a Transport Truck can move through? Who cares?! Also, this is the very first Rare title that has any tutorials, which is now a big deal to me. I’m not for handholding tutorials by any means, but giving me a freaking clue ahead of time is greatly appreciated. There is an excellent variety in both vehicles and missions here, especially since you can branch out paths.
Easily one of if not the most well-known titles in this collection. A witch kidnapped your sister. Grab your bird friend and shoot its young at your enemies! Also, JIGGIES! I have played this game multiple times before, though sadly never beaten it. I keep getting to Rusty Bucket Bay, both on N64 and when it was put out on 360, and somehow I just end up getting frustrated with that level and walking away, no matter how determined I am before getting there. It’s a dang shame really.
JETFORCE GEMINI (1999):
Before I can even start this one, I am told that there is a new control scheme available in the options. I’m guessing the old one caused some headaches. Now I actually have a cut scene to start with, I like it. It seems that we are fighting bug enemies because Starship Troopers is amazing. I have now been greeted by Monkey Yoda. More to the point, the cardinal sin in a 3D game is having a frustrating camera. And this one is just a pain right out the gate. It becomes easier when trying to shoot in 3rd person, but when you’re walking it just makes it hard to tell where you are going.
PERFECT DARK (2000):
This was a game I knew about, but never played. Basically let’s take Bond, but him in a Blade Runner looking future, and make him a girl! That last one is a Tumblr favorite. It should also be noted that like Banjo Kazooie, this is one of the titles that automatically download from the Xbox Market place instead of just being on the disc like the other games. So if you played on the 360 before, it’s now backwards compatible and you can move your saves through the cloud. So I’m pretty sure Sean Connery gave me this mission. I wish I had played this game back in the day. It was a lot of fun and honestly felt like Goldeneye 2.0, which is high praise.
Because sequels come in twos. Set 2 years after the last title, Gruntilda has been trapped under a rock…and we find out that she has 2 sisters. Grunty is released and she is a straight up skeleton now with magic blasts. And that’s about all I got to see since I ended up hitting the 10 minute mark after this. Oh well, that’s the rules. I’m sure I will go back and play it in the future.
CONKER’S BAD FUR DAY (2001):
I have heard the legends about this one. I know it was rated M for a reason. And I even know that there is a giant talking pile of crap I have to fight. But nothing quite prepares you for the sight of a drunken cartoonish squirrel puking on somebody. There’s something about the voice acting in this, I can’t tell if it’s charming or just not very good. Then again, it was hard to get VA sessions right in that day and age. Also, the scarecrow creeps me out.
GRABBED BY THE GHOULIES (2003):
This one definitely flew under my radar. The whole game is presented like a scary story book, which I dig. You and your girlfriend come upon this old haunted house, and sure enough decide to go inside it. It is run by Baron Von Ghoul, who is dressed like a WW2 fighter pilot. It is at this point that your girlfriend is, you guessed it, grabbed by the Ghoulies. Time to be a hero and save her. The game play isn’t too bad and it does have some humor about it. In some ways it kind of feels like the middle school version of a Tim Schaeffer game.
This game wastes no time throwing you into the muck. Immediately showing off 3 powers you can use and how to use them against enemies in the middle of a giant battle. That’s what I like to see!
PERFECT DARK ZERO (2005):
This is apparently a prequel title, which is already a negative. I hate prequels to anything, simply because you tend to already know the fate of the majority of characters so what’s the point? Why is the opening talking about dropping the bass? Cause that’s not what spies do. This feels like every other shooter I have ever played, which feels like a real step backwards for the franchise. I’m not saying it plays poorly, it just feels bland.
VIVA PINATA (2006):
I’m pretty sure FOX had a Saturday morning kids show about this game. I remember because that was when I saw the god awful 4Kids dub of One Piece, that or I walked into a Quinceanera high on Quaaludes. It has its charm, but the ultimate goal is to raise Piñatas on an island and make them mate with each other. That is both creepy and takes time. I want nothing to do with it.
JETPAC REFUELED (2007):
Did I miss a memo? Cause I swear that Rare believes this game is somehow a crown jewel of their creations. Astronaut Larry is back for what is this the 4th time? It’s essentially the same exact game as it was 30 years ago, except now it’s all HD and stuff. Which is nice, but a new coat of paint doesn’t make this title any more interesting.
VIVA PINATA: TROUBLE IN PARADISE (2008):
Nope, not gonna do it. I don’t care if the island is bigger, I’m not helping Piñatas get their candy rocks off.
BANJO-KAZOOIE: NUTS AND BOLTS (2008):
So right off the bat, it seems that everyone got a modern-day update to them, and while I understand that, it just looks awful. Banjo looks both high as a kite and like a reject from Five Nights At Freddie’s, and Kazooie looks like pure nightmare fuel. Who thought this game needed cars? Seriously, even the opening sequence reminds you how much fun you could be having with the older games. It’s kind of like when Power Rangers got to Turbo. How do we go from powers based on Dinosaurs and Mystical Animals, to cars?! And without evening explaining why we need cars suddenly. At least their sense of humor is still intact. The self-referential humor is immediately evident, breaking the 4th wall within minutes. However, while I can tell they tried to do something different, it just seems like this was supposed to be a big middle finger to modern-day gaming. Satire is fine, but make sure your writing and design are up to par when you do so.
Rare Replay is pretty neat collection. It definitely has a very slow start to it, but the pros outweigh the cons. This collection contains some true gems, and they really shine when it comes to the N64 era of gaming. Admittedly, it is a shame they couldn’t include titles like Donkey Kong Country and Goldeneye due to licensing issues. Otherwise, I would guarantee that they would have been in there.
Overall, it is a great value. Just do the math: Rare Replay on average retails for $29.99. That means the rough average is about $1 per game. So If you’re like me and didn’t care for let’s say Jetpac, it only cost a buck and doesn’t break your wallet. While at the same time, you are only paying one dollar for Banjo-Kazooie, a game that is typically $9.99 on Xbox Live. So it is definitely worth a pick-up. In fact I think I saw Rare Replay for sale on Amazon recently for $9.99, at that point it’s almost silly not to buy it.
That’s all for now kids. Join me next time when I plan to go through the Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. And if there are any other collections you think deserve a fun look through, just let me know. Until then, look forward to the next edition of 10 Minutes to Glory!