August 9, 2015 | by Michael
Rare Replay Ranked

Rare Replay is absolutely packed with games. Clearly Rare has been busy since 1983, as there are so many games it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of them all, especially if you aren’t familiar with every title. So before you dive too deep into Rare Replay, let me give you the low down about which Rare games are the best, and which might only be worth a boot up or two. Here is every game included in Rare Replay, ranked:

30. Perfect Dark Zero – 2005

Perfect Dark Zero almost makes me happy having never played the original until Rare Replay came into my life. With awkward controls, strange looking graphics, and absolutely terrible aiming for the console it was developed on (no more N64 excuses) it’s a pretty big disappointment. I honestly can’t bring myself to play this for more than an hour at a time before feeling frustrated and bored. This feels like a game from an alternative reality where first person shooters were never popular.

29. Snake Rattle N Roll – 1990

I just don’t know. You’re a snake, you lick things, you can sometimes collect bubbles that attach to you, sometimes you can’t. Sharks come to get you when you fall into water and some enemies need multiple licks to be defeated, like the dreaded foot. Snake Rattle N Roll really put me off as soon as I started playing it and I never felt I had a grasp on what to do.

28. Under Wurld – 1984

Like an ancient tome hidden away from civilization for centuries, maybe there is a manual for Under Wurld that explains it all. Maybe it explains why the controls focus on your character jumping like a madman. Maybe it explains why you can land on picture frames as platforms and why this house is filled with flying birds and jellyfish. I’ve played Under Wurld a few times now and still have no clue what I should be doing.

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27. Lunar Jetman – 1983

Despite being the sequel to Jetpac, and boosting additional gameplay elements like a lunar vehicle, this game just tried too hard. You barely have a chance to understand the objective of the game before you’re bombarded with enemies and options. Should you drive away in your moon car? Should you grab the bomb and fly away? Should you clear away the wave of enemies descending on you? I don’t know either and I’m not too eager to ever find out.

26. Solar Jetman – 1990

I respect Asteroids but I’m not a huge fan. The floaty controls weren’t something that synced well with my play style as a kid and it never clicked with me even as an adult. Solar Jetman uses those same controls, accelerating in the direction you face and then turning around to fire, and I simply cannot handle the ship. Another player could probably fly around with relative ease but this game doesn’t need enemies for me, I’ll crash my ship all on my own thank you very much.

25. Digger T Rock – 1990

Not unlike Dig Dug, Digger T. Rock has your exploring caves, digging through tunnels, and avoiding/defeating enemies in order to find the exit. While I wouldn’t call this game bad, I also don’t have much of an urge to back to it. Nothing about it offended me or rubbed me the wrong way, but nothing about it has me wanting to beat that one tricky level or past that one perplexing puzzle. I’ll be fine skipping over this title most of the time.

24. Conker’s Bad Fur Day – 2001

Poop jokes, fart jokes, sex jokes, I’m above none of them. Bad platforming, poor jumping, and constant cutscenes that disrupt any sense of pace on the other hand aren’t enjoyable in any game. Now mix some uninspired low brow humor, admittedly with some funny moments, with poor platforming linking the two together and you have a game I never want to play again. I could feel my soul hurting and my brain contracting as the seconds went by with Conker.

23. Killer Instinct Gold – 1996

Considered the weak version of Killer Instinct 2, packing in KI: Gold seems like a pretty big goof. The options section in the Rare Replay menu only gives you the basic controls, with no move lists for the characters, meaning any new player, like myself, will jump into KI: Gold absolutely confused and button mashing. You can snap in ‘game help’ on your Xbox One but that’s about as clunky as this game’s port to the N64 was. It’s strange to play a bad port of Killer Instinct when the free, modern, version of Killer Instinct is on Xbox One.

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22. Battletoads – 1991

I’m not opposed to a difficult, arcade style, beat em up game. I want to be challenged and I want to have a sense of accomplishment when I finish a level or defeat a boss. Battletoads has a great feeling to it. It feels good to beat up enemies, to pick up their fallen weapon, and to beat them with it. But the difficulty doesn’t feel like it’s challenging me, or even goading me, into pushing further. It feels cheap. I don’t want to be cheated out of the fun of a video game, I want to earn it. It’s a fine line and Battletoads crossed it.

21. Jet Force Gemini – 1999

I would often boot up Jet Force Gemini when I was a kid. I’d get through a handful of levels, try and convince my friends to play the strange multiplayer, and forget about it for months only to do it all again. The control scheme has been upgraded to a modern feel and maybe, just maybe, I’ll get farther into this game.

20.Grabbed by the Ghoulies – 2003

A real odd stand out among these other releases. It’s the only non-remake Rare developed for the original Xbox and started the beginning of what modern Rare is today. That can be somewhat depressing but seeing Rare trying to apply their old school talents onto the very “Mountain Dew brah!” Xbox is striking. Grabbed by the Ghoulies is a very strange game but with tons of heart in it. It’s clear Rare may not have been a hundred percent sure what this game would be but they enjoyed making it anyways. You can skip this Rare title entirely and feel like you didn’t miss out, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t special in small, charming ways.

19. Kameo – 2005

Launch titles are rarely enjoyable and Kameo has a pretty negative reputation. I see it as backlash against the Microsoft/Rare acquisition, but Kameo is a pretty good start for what would become the Xbox 360 library. Compared to later titles it can barely hold up. On its own merit,  Kameo feels fresh, bright, and feels like a new style being brought to the new console. It’s a wonderful representation of the birth of a new console, a snapshot of what might be. Maybe not perfect but certainly historic.

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18. Blast Corps – 1997

Controlled chaos. I didn’t think too many N64 games could be enjoyable for the first time so many years later. Yet Blast Corps has a simple enough premise that frees you up to focus on the destruction. You must clear a path for a powerful missile by destroying any buildings in your way. You do this by controlling bulldozers, mechs, jetpacks, and a variety of other vehicles all with their own method of mayhem. I don’t have the nostalgia or patience to sit and play Blast Corps for hours on end but I’ll end up coming back, periodically, and blowing up a level or two.

17. Sabre Wulf – 1984

The pieces are there that could make Sabre Wulf an interesting and fun game. It’s very colorful, designed around careful exploration, and provides a stiff but not impossible challenge. However the controls feel a bit slippery and the objective isn’t clear from the start. I felt just a bit too lost for the first few tries of Sabre Wulf and I’m afraid the good parts will be buried by those confusing first moments.

16. Gunfright – 1985

The last of Rare’s ZX Spectrum games is one to at least try. You’re the sheriff of a western town hunting down members of a notorious gang. Each gang member you catch yields a reward and with that money you can buy a horse for mobility and more bullets to hunt more of the gang. The gun you wield has its ammo represented by the barrel of a six shooter and you must keep an eye out to see if it’s near empty. Reloading will cost money so the better a shot you are the richer you can stay. Gunfright isn’t perfect but you can feel Rare’s classic design and depth of gameplay ooze out of it.

15. Cobra Triangle – 1989

Combing the controls of RC Pro-Am with a boat doing badass stunts was a pretty great idea. Cobra Triangle lets you drive a boat and puts you through your paces. You’re running races, blowing up enemies, collecting power ups, fighting against a river stream, and battling various bosses. Each level is different which helps make the game feel fresh as you learn the controls more and more. Not every level is a winner and some of the requirements placed on the player is a bit harsh. Overall it’s a great way to take a hit game and make it into something very fun.

14. Jetpac Refuelled – 2007

A modern version of the original Jetpac that does add some new gameplay but doesn’t do enough to be terribly interesting. If the original or its sequel don’t strike you as fun, maybe the modern feel of Refueled will. The laser power ups are a little more diverse and the controls feel less loose than the original. The original version is also packed into this XBLA version which is a bit strange since that version is also in Rare Replay proper. Redundancy rules.

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13. Knight Lore – 1984

We have Knight Lore to thank for starting an entire genre of puzzle solving adventure games. You roam around trying to break a wizard’s curse that transforms you into a werewolf every night. You must solve puzzles, collect the right items, and platform through and past traps and enemies. Even the isometric perspective was new when this game came out. Its genre defining tropes alone aren’t what make Knight Lore an interesting and fun game. Exploring through this dark castle really feels an adventure. It’s no wonder this game inspired so many.

12. RC Pro Am 2 – 1992

Despite being the sequel, RC Pro-AM 2 feels almost like the older game. The vehicle designs don’t look as detailed and the new addition of purchasing power ups is nice but nothing too substantial. Overall Pro-Am 2 isn’t that different from the original and playing either is worth your time. If, for some reason, you’re in a time crunch and crave yourself some RC car racing then the original one is the one to go to.

11. Slalom – 1987

Rare’s first game on a Nintendo machine would be the beginning of a strange and interesting relationship that continues to echo to this day. The game is a repeated time trial over a series of downhill skiing courses with trees, snowmen, competitors, and other obstacles all in your way. The game feels focused, compact, but somehow deep. Feeling out the nuances of the design is just as fun as setting a new record.

10. Viva Pinata Trouble in Paradise – 2008

There isn’t much difference between Trouble in Paradise and the original Viva Pinata. Your garden is a bit bigger, some new modes were added, and desert and winter levels were added along with new kinds of pinatas. Overall it may be a better game but it will be too similar for the average player to really care about the differences. However minor those differences are, they don’t make Trouble in Paradise any less of a Viva Pinata game, which is to say it’s still great.

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9. RC Pro Am – 1987

An absolute classic that actually translates well to the modern controller. I never had the chance to play RC Pro-Am growing up and the controls always intimidated me. The racing games I cut my teeth on were always from behind the car and keeping my head wrapped around left and right as these cars twisted around the track was a struggle for me. Luckily years later I feel much more comfortable accelerating around these tracks and blowing up opponents out of my way.

8. Battletoads Arcade – 1994

In contrast to the original Battletoads, Battletoads Arcade’s challenge is smooth. When an enemy is able to grab and pummel me, I feel at fault. The animation brings the characters and world I’m traveling through to life. The levels and enemy variation keep everything fresh and the trudge through this beat em up feels fun. The enemies still feel cheap on occasion but nothing so frustrating that made me want to quit early or put the controller down.

7. Perfect Dark – 2000

While I did spend hundreds of hours with Goldeneye, a Rare game missing probably due to licensing issues, Perfect Dark never showed up on my radar. Years later I would hear about the laptop gun and the wonderful multiplayer that fans loved. It’s nice to get to play through the original Perfect Dark, feel the strange nostalgia for another game while playing, and yet still get a new experience. The game runs well, the aiming feels pretty good for an N64 game, and I really like its near future style.

6. Banjo-Tooie – 2000

Banjo-Tooie’s greatest sin may be that it’s just more Banjo, but that’s totally not a bad thing. Putting it right next to the original and the superior Nuts & Bolts might be the worst thing to do to it. Tooie is longer, has more to collect, bigger levels, and is just much more fun to look at and play. My suggestion is to relive a few hours of nostalgia with the first and dive into Tooie. Give it a chance. You may not get into a gravitate back towards the original, like I did, but somehow this is the superior game.

5. Atic Atac – 1983

Two hundred rooms spread across five floors forms a massive mansion for you to battle your way through. Secret passages, colored keys, and a damn player class you choose at the beginning all makes Atic Atac a wonderful game. The sounds, the colors, and even the art, despite being limited on the ZX Spectrum, all add to this gem of a game. The game emphasizes exploration and atmosphere with limited resources and accomplishes it all in a captivating way.

4. Banjo-Kazooie – 1998

An absolute classic. Perhaps in 2015 a character platforming game focused on collectibles doesn’t play, but for a lot of us who remember this game all too well from our childhood’s this scratches the biggest nostalgia itch. This is the Xbox 360 version but does look a bit better emulated onto the Xbox One. My video game history may color my love and passion for this game but I really don’t care. What a wonderfully colorful, happy, bright, and great game.

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3. Viva Pinata – 2006

Relaxing and challenging. Adorable and ruthless. Candy pinatas crossed with Charles Darwin’s wet dream. Viva Pinata is practically a modern day classic spoken with devoted tones among the dedicated. I couldn’t say enough good things about Viva Pinata but if this is your first chance to really sit down and play it, do yourself a favor and do it already.

2.  Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts – 2008

It’s hard to follow up the cult following of platformers whose entire aim is to collect a bunch of stuff. Yet Rare took on the challenge and made something very special. Gone were the litany of items to pick up and instead were a bunch of challenges focused around customizing and creating your own vehicles. Your options were only limited by what parts you had and your imagination. Nuts and Bolts didn’t care if you broke the game’s design but rather supported your insane efforts. This under appreciated sequel may be the high water mark in the franchise.

1. Jetpac – 1983

For being the oldest in this package I still found myself absolutely hooked. The game has you controlling an astronaut collecting spaceship parts and fuel and shooting enemy aliens in order to escape. The maneuvering is just loose enough to challenge you and your laser gun has quite a number of powerups it can go through making it easier to destroy aliens. It’s simple, it’s fun, and surprisingly this original version may be my favorite.

Michael

Managing Editor around here, moderator over at Giant Bomb, writer at prowrestling.cool

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