Fun & Games

Homebound: More time with Rare Replay!

Going through piles of shame while stuck at home can feel like an endless battle. And when you’re also taking into account compilations such as Rare Replay that offer a substantial number of games (30 here) in the package it can make it seem close to impossible. Released to celebrate the developer’s 30th anniversary Rare Replay includes 30 titles that cover the developer’s history from the ZX Spectrum, during their Nintendo years to their arrival on Xbox. It might not include notable games such as Donkey Kong Country or Golden Eye but there’s still plenty to keep players occupied. I did share my thoughts a few years ago but seeing as I was in the mood for playing something a little different I dove back into it again to see what more there was in there to keep me busy.

As a compilation Rare Replay does occupy an interesting space for me because it might just be the only one I own that covers such a wide breadth of gaming history and platforms as most others are restricted to a single platform and/or publisher. And seeing as I was late to consoles (apart from the Atari 2600 and Lynx!) there’s plenty of games here I hadn’t played at all until this was released. Coming back to it again I’ve found it a nice way to whittle away both the hours and there’s a nice number of achievements too. The snapshots mode is great in that offers bite sized challenges from some games which can be knocked over by focused players and awards in-game tickets which lead to leveling up and bonus content. I spent more time on a few games than I had ever expected because of this feature alone and it really makes you appreciate the effort put into even the early games to give them long lasting appeal.

I spent a bit of time on the Gunfright “snapshots”.

For example, I’ve spent at least an hour playing Gunfright, a Spectrum game from when Rare was known as Ultimate Play the Game. The game’s core goal is to kill a gang of outlaws but the snapshots focus on other aspects of the game (shooting, horse riding, finding people) so you get a bit more of an understanding of how it all ties together which makes taking on the real game a little easier. Still… I could do without my sheriff getting killed by a tumbleweed. Jetpac also received similar attention thanks to the challenges offered by its own snapshots. It’s also a much more sedate introduction to that particular gameplay loop when compared to the reboot Jetpac Refueled which throws a whole lot more enemies at you at once so my advice is to take advantage of it.

The version of Jet Force Gemini that’s in the collection appears to have also been updated to better support twin stick controls which is a very nice improvement. It still takes some getting used to with the automatic camera swinging around frustratingly when you’re not aiming your weapon but you can get used to it and I’m finding it to be an interesting shooter from the N64 era. Also seems like it could really benefit from a modern take but then I think most of the N64 games here deserved that chance. Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark did get new 360 games with Perfect Dark Zero in 2005 and Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts in 2008 but it’s still a very long time to have potential franchises sit idle in this age of reboots. Conker’s Bad Fur Day continues to tease me from the sidelines too…

Jet Force Gemini is really starting to grow on me.

The Battletoads arcade game is probably the closest thing in the compilation you can find to what a SNES style game from Rare would have been like (Donkey Kong Country aside) with some great sprite work and a few neat zooming effects thrown in there too. It may not have the same impact that the TMNT arcade still has but it’s okay! I’d pick it over the NES version (also here) purely because of the presentation but both do have some weird difficulty spikes that I wasn’t fond of. The second stage of the arcade game reminds me a littletoo much of the same stage from Altered Beast – annoying enemies that jump onto your head and aren’t easy to avoid… argh!

Despite the occasional grievances I’m still finding that I have plenty more games to continue working through in Rare Replay. It may not carry the same cachet as a Capcom, Midway or Sega Megadrive collection but the variety of rewards for progress, that includes both unlockables and achievements, means there’s no shortage of goals to set for yourself. And the games from both the Xbox and 360 eras (including the N64 XBLA ports) hold up a little better now thanks to them receiving Xbox One X enhancements. At a time like this with plenty of people stuck for something to do it makes for a VERY handy title to have in your collection if you’re an Xbox gamer. 🙂

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