Flickr, Tyler Burgess

Rare Replay Retrospective – the Golden Age of Gaming

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Gaming is an expensive hobby. No more so than when you’re a student already struggling to stretch out that loan to the end of the term. With AAA games weighing in at £40-£50 each, it’s all too easy to find your wallet draining faster than a Dark Souls health bar. But even if you’re counting your pennies, gaming doesn’t have to break the bank. PC gamers have taken advantage of this for some time, with frequent Steam sales offering huge libraries of games at affordable prices; but unfortunately consoles have largely been immune to this growing trend.

Gettin Jiggy with it, Flickr, Justin Taylor

And that’s where RARE Replay comes in. It’s not only full to bursting with classic games, it’s also the best value for money product the Xbox One has; costing under £10 at the time of writing, that’s 33p per game! RARE are one of the UK’s most renowned and beloved studios. They’ve been making games for over 30 years, and iconic titles such as Perfect Dark and Killer Instinct Gold have contributed to the growth of new gaming genres and left a stamp on the worldwide gaming industry.

It’s all too easy to find your wallet draining faster than a Dark Souls health bar

Sporting 30 games that span the illustrious history of the studio, from the humble ZX Spectrum to the Xbox 360, this collection really does have something for everyone. From isometric racing games and quirky arcade innovators to colourful action platformers and shooters, you’d be hard-pressed to find such a variety of games in another single package. One could easily spend a hundred hours exploring the vibrant worlds of Kameo and Jet Force Gemini, blasting aliens in Jetpac Refuelled or exploring maze-like dungeons in Atic Atac.

Flickr, Digital Strider

Hone your fighting skills in Killer Instinct and go spelunking in Digger T. Rock. Laugh yourself silly in the profanely immature Conker’s Bad Fur Day. And if you think Dark Souls is hard, prepare to be truly tested by the relentlessly challenging Battletoads and Sabre Wulf. Yet RARE make even these frustratingly difficult older games as accessible as possible with a nifty rewind feature that allows the player to rectify their deadly mistakes and conquer those fiendishly tough levels from another era. All of this is tied together with a massive 10,000 Gamerscore, giving achievement hunters enough challenge to last them years of play.
RARE Replay is not just a value-laden gaming experience though – it’s an archive of gaming history. Granted, not every title is a hit (we’re looking at you, Perfect Dark Zero), but they’re bundled together in such a charming way that even the duds are fun to mess around with. When choosing what to play, the games are presented in a colourful museum-style gallery, each complete with unique artwork and animations. There’s also a flood of extra content including documentary footage, interesting facts and standalone gameplay challenges that give RARE Replay even more value – we’re spoiled, really.

I’d never played before; and that’s a testament to the quality of this collection as a whole and the impact of RARE’s titles on the state of modern gaming.

There’s also something strangely satisfying about firing up an N64 game on a Microsoft console, a small chortle inevitable as the Nintendo logo blips onto the screen as I’m sitting with Xbox controller in hand. Given that most current students weren’t even born when some of the earlier games were released, there’s bound to be something new here for everyone. And with such a broad time span throughout the collection, there are also plenty more recent games to induce nostalgia from our own childhoods. In fact RARE Replay managed to invoke a heavy sense of nostalgia even in the games I’d never played before; and that’s a testament to the quality of this collection as a whole and the impact of RARE’s titles on the state of modern gaming.
It’s easy to get swept up in the latest must-have blockbuster game releases. They’re shiny and new, tempting us with stunning visuals and grand promises. But if you’re looking for certified classics at a price that won’t have you living off instant noodles, RARE Replay might be the only game you need to keep you occupied for months to come.

Top 5 games in the collection:

1. Viva Pinata: Trouble In Paradise – This is a very unique game and there’s nothing else quite like it out there, combining addictive farming, resource management and cute little critters. If you like Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon or Pokemon, you’ll probably love Viva Pinata!

2. Banjo-Kazooie – The King of Collectathons. Anyone who enjoys platformers or likes Banjo’s recent sequel-in-all-but-name Yooka-Laylee owes it to themselves to play this 1998 masterpiece.

3. Battletoads Arcade – Play this if you like brawlers, beat-em-ups, side scrollers and/or anthropomorphic toads.

4. Blast Corps – This is another completely unique game that thrives on pure fun. It’s full of fast-paced action, city-levelling destruction and arcade-style scoring.

5. Perfect Dark – The FPS genre has come a long way since this N64 classic, but it still holds its own as a refined version of the equally legendary GoldenEye 007.

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