|Release date(s)||August 4, 2015|
Rare Replay is a 2015 compilation of 30 video games previously developed by Rare and its predecessor, Ultimate Play the Game, in their 30-year combined history. The emulated games span multiple genres and consoles—from the ZX Spectrum to the Xbox 360—and retain the features and errors of their original releases with minimal edits. The compilation adds cheats to make the older games easier and a Snapshots mode of specific challenges culled from parts of the games. Player progress is rewarded with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews about Rare’s major and unreleased games.
The compilation was one of several ideas Rare considered to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Inspired by fans, upcoming Xbox One backwards compatibility features, and the idea to connect Rare’s past and future, the company sorted through 120 games to choose titles that best represented its oeuvre. They prioritized games with characters and environments original to the company. Rare incorporated six emulators in the package, and worked with its parent company, Microsoft, to use its unannounced Xbox 360 emulation. Rare Replay was announced at the 2015Electronic Entertainment Expo and released worldwide as an Xbox One exclusive on August 4, 2015.
The game received generally favorable reviews. Blast Corps and Rare’s Nintendo 64 classics were the communal favorites, while Perfect Dark Zero, Grabbed by the Ghoulies, and the Spectrum games were liked least. Critics appreciated the package’s design and craft and considered the release a high-water mark for compilation releases. Reviewers were disappointed by the absence of the Donkey Kong Country series andGoldenEye 007 due to inevitable licensing issues, while a few thought the package was fine without them. Critics considered the archival game content and developer interviews among the compilation’s best features, and were upset to see the content hidden behind time-consuming in-game challenges. Reviewers noted that Rare’s founders, the Stamper brothers, were conspicuously absent from the interviews. Critics had high praise for the «rewind» and Snapshot features, and criticized technical issues in the Xbox 360 emulation and game installation. Rare Replaybecame Rare’s first United Kingdom all-format charts bestseller since Banjo-Kazooie in 1998.
|1983 –||– Jetpac
– Lunar Jetman
– Atic Atac
|1984 –||– Sabre Wulf
– Knight Lore
|1985 –||– Gunfright|
|1986 –||– Slalom|
|1987 –||– R.C. Pro-Am|
|1989 –||– Cobra Triangle|
|1990 –||– Snake Rattle ‘n’ Roll
– Solar Jetman
– Digger T. Rock
|1991 –||– Battletoads|
|1992 –||– R.C. Pro-Am II|
|1994 –||– Battletoads Arcade|
|1996 –||– Killer Instinct Gold|
|1997 –||– Blast Corps|
|1998 –||– Banjo-Kazooie|
|1999 –||– Jet Force Gemini|
|2000 –||– Perfect Dark
|2001 –||– Conker’s Bad Fur Day|
|2003 –||– Grabbed by the Ghoulies|
|2005 –||– Kameo
– Perfect Dark Zero
|2006 –||– Viva Piñata|
|2007 –||– Jetpac Refuelled|
|2008 –||– Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise
– Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
Rare Replay is a compilation of 30 games previously developed by Rare and its predecessor, Ultimate Play the Game, over their 30-year history across platforms from the ZX Spectrum to the Xbox 360 (1983 to 2008), up until Rare’s Kinect Sports series. The 30 games span multiple genres, including fighting, first-person shooter, gardening, mining, 3D platforming, racing, and skiing. The compilation opens with a musical number featuring Rare characters. Each game has a landing page with a variation on its theme music. While the core gameplay remains unedited, Rare added extra features to the older releases. The player can toggle the visual appearance of scanlines and «rewind» up to ten seconds of gameplay in pre-Nintendo 64 games. The older games can be saved at will and autosave progress upon the player’s exit. Rare also added an infinite lives cheat setting for some older games and fixed a game-breaking bug in Battletoads. The «Snapshots» feature presents small segments of the older games as challenges for the player, such as collecting a set amount of points in a set amount of time in a set scenario, similar in function to the NES Remixseries. Some Snapshots are connected sequentially as a playlist.
The ZX Spectrum emulation retains the «authentic» graphical slowdown that would occur on the original console, and the Nintendo 64 emulation upgrades the games’ polygon rendering and framerate. The nine Xbox 360 releases (and re-releases) install directly to the Xbox One dashboard separately from the Rare Replay compilation, and require online activation before they can be played offline. The Xbox 360 games share player saved game and achievement progress between the consoles via Xbox Live‘s cloud sync features. Rare Replay uses the prior Xbox 360 ports ofBanjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie, and Perfect Dark rather than emulating their originals. However, Rare chose to emulate the original Conker’s Bad Fur Day rather than using its Xbox port. Grabbed by the Ghoulies, in specific, was ported to run natively on the Xbox One, receiving a high-definition and framerate update. Rare Replay retains the local and online multiplayer modes of the original games, and includes their main downloadable content add-ons. Multiple classic Rare titles, such as the Donkey Kong Country series and GoldenEye 007, are not included in the compilation due to licensing issues.
A bonus feature section, «Rare Revealed», contains over an hour of behind-the-scenes footage focusing on Rare’s major and unreleased games.The player completes in-game challenges to collect stamps, which increase the player’s rank and unlock the bonus features. The player must finish each game to receive all stamps. The compilation automatically grants stamps for prior progress in the package’s Xbox 360 games. Current and former Rare employees, such as Grant Kirkhope, feature in the documentary clips, though studio founders Tim and Chris Stamper do not appear.Rare Revealed unveils gameplay footage from several unreleased games. In the open world adventure game Black Widow, the player controls a spider-like robot equipped with missiles. The spider was expected to be recycled in Kameo 2. This unreleased sequel to Kameo was designed with a darker tone than the original. Rare also worked on The Fast and the Furriest, a spiritual successor to Diddy Kong Racing with vehicle customization and track alterations. Rare also began work on new intellectual properties including survival game prototype Sundown and the airplane-basedTailwind. The videos also include trivia behind some game design decisions such as Blast Corps ’ character design, the fate of Banjo-Kazooie ’s Stop ‘n’ Swop features, and audio overrides built into Killer Instinct.
Rare began work on Rare Replay in 2014 as a 30th anniversary celebration. They figured that few companies lasted for 30 years and wanted to do something unique. Rare was also influenced by community requests to bring their classics to Xbox One, and the Microsoft backwards compatibility team’s progress on the feature. The compilation was one of several celebration ideas, but once it was chosen, the «30 years» theme led to the 30 game limit and US$30 price point. Rare Replay ’s papercraft, theatrical stage theme was intended as part of the celebratory theme, and as a reflection of Rare’s character. Rare Replay became part of Rare’s plan to celebrate its past and simultaneously announce its future with a logo redesign, new website, and Sea of Thieves announcement. Rare sorted through 120 games in their history to choose the 30 for the collection. The company wrote the titles on a whiteboard and rated each for how it would fit the collection. Rare prioritized titles that featured characters and environments original to the company, which was their explanation for excluding GoldenEye 007. Licensing availability was a secondary factor, as was how fun they considered the game and how well the title aged against its contemporary video games. They wanted a wide and representative sample of «popular games that would hit that nostalgic beat that everyone likes». Rare chose the Nintendo 64 Conker’s Bad Fur Day over the Xbox version (Conker: Live & Reloaded) because they felt the latter had strayed too far from the original. While Rare Replay ’s designers made the final call, other Rare employees and veterans gave input and recollected old game development stories.
Unlike the usual product development cycle, which grows a concept into a final product, most of the development work in Rare Replay was in converging 30 games across six platforms onto one disc. The engineering challenge rested in the quantity of games and platforms being emulated rather than the emulation effort itself. Rare worked in close collaboration with Microsoft as the latter developed the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility features in secret, which Rare ultimately used in Rare Replay. The Microsoft team helped prepare Rare’s nine Xbox 360 games for the release. The servers behind some Rare Xbox 360 game functions like piñata, blueprint, and photo sharing were turned offline prior to Rare Replay and thus were not included. On Rare Replay ’s design, lead designer Paul Collins added that the Snapshot challenges were built to encourage players to sample all of the games, and that the rewind feature was to help all players finish the games without quitting in frustration. The compilation’s opening musical number was a compromise from the original vision: a musical history of the company’s oeuvre, as told through small musical introductions to each Snapshot. The final opening was intended to invoke players’ memories of Rare properties, and includes several Easter eggs.
Rare Replay was announced during the Microsoft press conference at the June 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo alongside their new game Sea of Thieves. The reveal was leaked in the hours prior to the show. The compilation was released as an Xbox One exclusive worldwide on August 4, 2015. There are no plans for a Windows 10 release. Rare did not plan downloadable content in advance, but has stated that it would consider the idea. While Rare’s founders, the Stamper brothers, were not interviewed in the bonus features, Tim Stamper appeared in a Develop interview set to coincide with the compilation’s release. Rare also added a tie-in wherein Rare Replay owners unlocked the Battletoads character Rash as a playable character in the 2013 fighting game Killer Instinct during a limited test period.
Rare Replay received «generally favorable» reviews, according to review aggregator Metacritic. It reached the top of the United Kingdom all-format games charts, the first Xbox One exclusive to do so and Rare’s first in 17 years (since Banjo-Kazooie in 1998). It was also the first top-ranked budget title since Wii Fit Plus (2009) before it fell to sixth place the next week. Rare Replay was the sixth best selling game in North America for August 2015. The compilation had earlier been Amazon.com‘s most preordered game of the 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo. Many of the compilation’s games had long-established legacies. Reviewers liked its value proposition and low price.
Communal favorites of the package included Blast Corps, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, the Viva Piñata games, and the Nintendo 64 classics (especially Banjo-Kazooie, Conker, and Perfect Dark). Least favorites included Perfect Dark Zero,Grabbed by the Ghoulies, Snake Rattle & Roll, and the early Spectrum games, which reviewers felt had aged the worst. Jet Force Gemini was both a most and least favorite. Reviewers noted the quality and craft that went into the compilation’s design. Jaz Rignall (USgamer) was impressed by the compilation’s presentation and balance between frills and efficiency, and Dan Whitehead (Eurogamer) felt that the theatrical theme fit Rare’s character. Reviewers considered Rare Replay a high-water mark for video game compilations. Stephen Totilo (Kotaku) called it the best since Valve‘s The Orange Box. Chris Plante (The Verge) praised Rare Replay as a viable response to retrogame piracy, with its slight hardware improvements and added touches. Alternatively, Jeremy Parish (USgamer) felt that the contemporary Mega Man Legacy Collection provided a more authentic appreciation of the originals through its Criterion Collection-style presentation. Sam Machkovech (Ars Technica) wrote that the game’s target audience—gamers who experienced the originals in their heyday—would likely not be affected by a critical review of the included games. He felt that the compilation’s variety offered players at least eight new and exciting games apiece regardless of their feelings towards Rare.
Reviewers were disappointed at the exclusion of Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye 007, and Diddy Kong Racing, which they considered among the company’s best games, but an inevitable absence due to licensing issues. Other reviewers were not as disappointed, and felt the package was fine without them. Totilo (Kotaku) felt that the absence ofNintendo franchises and Kinect Sports hurt the «rhythm» of the package, such as Conker ’s function as a response to «cutesy» Nintendo characters. He acknowledged that Rare Replay was, in part, «image rehabilitation for a studio that had stopped making classic games many years ago», and hoped that the package was a sign of commitment to more «deep and daring games» in Rare’s future. Machkovech (Ars Technica) lamented that GoldenEye was yet to receive any remaster or rerelease while Donkey Kong Country was rereleased on Nintendo‘s Virtual Console. He was impressed by Microsoft’s ability to license from publishers including Tradewest, Nintendo, Milton Bradley, and Electronic Arts, but noted that Rare’s Super Nintendo-era games were unrepresented and was upset to see Rare’s «Mario Kart clones» and It’s Mr. Pants! left out. Dan Whitehead (Eurogamer) considered the compilation a feat in an era where consoles were receiving endless re-releases. He was surprised to see Rare’s style remain consistent over time, and compared the company’s legacy to that of Cosgrove Hall. Philip Kollar (Polygon) felt that the selections represented Rare’s full gamut. Kyle Hilliard (Game Informer) wrote that the compilation had two pleasant surprises for every dud.
Reviewers felt that the archival game content and developer interviews were among Rare Replay ’s best features. Some were frustrated that the features were locked behind time-consuming in-game challenges. Machkovech (Ars Technica) found himself stuck not even halfway through the stamp card progress after finishing the easiest achievements. This made the unreleased game footage particularly hard to access. Totilo (Kotaku) similarly became uninterested in finishing the stamp collection. He called the stamps the package’s «sickest joke» in consideration of Rare’s reputation for collectible-heavy games. Some reviewers found the developer content more important than individual games. Kollar (Polygon) called the compilation «an essential piece of gaming history», but Totilo (Kotaku) noted that the features lacked a straightforward history of the company and hid Rare’s significant, former ties with Nintendo. Whitehead (Eurogamer) wondered why Mire Mare and other early games were ignored in the bonus content. Machkovech (Ars Technica) found Rare Replay to be as much a «memorial» as an anthology since Rare had become «a shadow of its former self». He noted how the compilation ends around the time when Rare’s founding Stamper brothers left the company. Reviewers felt that the Stamper brothers were a conspicuous absence from the compilation. Rignall (USgamer) figured that the compilation’s stamps feature was a reference to the brothers. Rare later announced plans to continue its Rare Revealed series with releases on YouTube.
Reviewers praised the «rewind» feature added to the earlier games, which were known for their difficulty, especially for use in the notoriously challenging Battletoads. Machkovech (Ars Technica) wished that the «rewind» had been extended to the Nintendo 64 games. Totilo (Kotaku) figured that Rare added cheats to make the esoteric and «crushingly tough» Spectrum games tolerable. Reviewers liked the Snapshot challenges. Matt Leone (Polygon) reported that the Snapshots were less accessible than those of NES Remix. Kollar (Polygon) found the Snapshots necessary for learning basic game mechanics. Reviewers complained that the Spectrum game controls were difficult to decipher. Machkovech (Ars Technica) felt that the seven Spectrum games showed a more experimental and unrefined Rare that tested the bounds of game design. He noted that the selections were «incredibly forward-thinking» but too confusing to control and heavily focused on repeated quests and item collection. Machkovech thought the compilation did a poor job of explaining each game’s controls, and wondered why Rare did not include introductory or how-to videos. Instead, he turned to YouTube videos and external FAQs before playing each game. While Eurogamerliked how the Spectrum emulated the graphical glitches of the original console, Ars Technica disagreed. Rignall (USgamer) appreciated the added game save atop the Spectrum classics, and wrote that the collection will remind players how difficult games used to be.
Reviewers praised Rare Replay ’s Nintendo 64 emulation. Machkovech (Ars Technica) felt that the upgraded polygons compensated for its «blurry» and «pixelated» source material. He noted that the Nintendo 64 multiplayer modes lacked the framerate upgrades that their single-player modes received. Totilo (Kotaku) noted that the Xbox One had more Nintendo 64 re-releases than Nintendo’s Wii U Virtual Console. He found the in-game Xbox One button prompts to be «delightful anachronisms«. Reviewers supported the compilation’s choice of the Nintendo 64 version of Conker’s Bad Fur Day over its updated yet censored Xbox re-release. Initial reviews found Jet Force Gemini unplayable without dual thumbstick controls,which were later added. While Machkovech (Ars Technica) considered Rare’s Microsoft games to the weakest of the lot, Whitehead (Eurogamer) found them even more enjoyable in the context of Rare Replay. Reviewers noted framerate and technical issues in the Xbox 360 emulation and did not like its separation from the rest of the compilation. Kollar (Polygon) found the Xbox 360 game installation process needlessly complex, and Marty Sliva (IGN) did not like how the Xbox 360 startup sequence interrupted the compilation’s cohesion. He added that the emulated Xbox 360 experience was subpar compared to the unemulated experience.