Version Tested: Xbox One (only available on)
Developer: Rare Ltd
Genre: Classic Game Collection
Earlier this summer, Microsoft announced the upcoming release of the Rare Replay; a collection of 30 classic games from the 80s through the early 2000s for $30. Originally, not much was known about what games would be included, but the big guns were announced: Perfect Dark, Killer Instinct, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and Battletoads. I assume I shared the same reaction with every gamer around my age at that announcement:
“Holy fucking shit, you guys! Battle fucking tooooooads!”
That’s not me being creative. I’m pretty sure I got that exact text from at least one person.
Time went on though and a certain restraint took over. What if those were the only decent games and the rest were just filler? What if Rare was just making a quick cash grab and dumping something on me I could get with an emulator on my PC (not that any of us would ever pirate classic games)?
Personally, I would probably have paid $30 for Battletoads on its own. On a totally unrelated note, I have mountains of credit card debt and will gladly [redacted by Nerd Stash legal department] without even asking for its shot record $10. But then a new reservation took over:
“What if Battletoads isn’t as good as I remember?”
The last time I played Battletoads I was maybe 12 and it was on NES. I am currently pushing 30. Anyone who grew up in the early days of gaming–especially during the console bubble of the early 90s when games were pushed out half finished but you didn’t know any better and mom can you please just open my Capri Sun for me the straw is bent?!–can tell you that those games often do not age well.
And then, last Tuesday, Rare Replay was finally released. Guess which game I played first.
My fears were unfounded! Battletoads absolutely holds up. It’s consistently that perfect balance of challenging and fun that we all remember. I didn’t care that that goddamn turbo cycle stage took me an hour to beat. Although you don’t get unlimited lives/continues (awesome), you do get to save your progress. This is great for those of us who are now adults and can’t spend four solid summer months memorizing each stage for a perfect playthrough instead of going outside and practicing bases balls with the other kids. But since you do only have limited continues, if you want to try to play it old school, you can (you beautiful masochist).
When I finally pulled myself away from Battletoads and reminded myself I had an article to write and couldn’t just review one 24-year-old game, I scrolled through the game list and found:
Holy shit a second fucking Battletoads game!
This one was the arcade version. Much simpler, much shorter (my roommate and I beat it in 56 minutes). But a great choice for multiplayer. If you don’t want to start fist fights with your friends, pets, and loved ones, I would suggest playing this one on multiplayer rather than the original. If you ever tried the turbo cycle level with two players, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The arcade version sticks mostly to the beat-em-up style and grants infinite lives/continues. It also allows for three players.
Speaking of which, Rare Replay is another great title for Xbox that allows for couch multiplayer. All of the games come in their original multiplayer formats; from the 1-player Atic Atac to the 4-player Perfect Dark.
I also want to throw a quick shout of to a game I absolutely loved/love but totally forgot about that’s included in this collection: Blast Corps. If the name does jog your memory, its the game where the entire purpose is to drive around blowing shit up for various and sundry reasons with a bunch of different types of destruction machines. Wanton destruction at its purest and most fun (until someone re-releases Rampage).
All of the titles (which I’ll list at the end of the article) work beautifully, as far as I played them. Obviously, I haven’t had time to fully play through each and every title (stupid, stupid responsibilities… I just want my Capri Sun and vodka), but I made a point to at least spot check each one.
My fears about Rare/Microsoft just dumping a bunch of games together in a pile that could be found in any PC emulator were also unfounded. They are beautifully packaged. There’s even a delightful (and fully skippable) little musical number in the opening title. Also, the games are listed chronologically, which is a nice touch for those of us who are interested in seeing the way games progress through time.
The one and only complaint I have is most likely related to this packaging though. When scrolling through the main list of games, everything works fine. But when you select a game, you’re presented with a title screen that shows achievements and other stats for that particular game. Entering and exiting this is pretty sluggish, which doesn’t really make a ton of sense when you’re dealing with 8-bit graphics and cartoonish animations.
Each game has its own set of achievements, and the whole package comes with a potential of 10,000 gamerscore.
In a time when Xboxers are pissed about lack of split-screen in Halo 5 and [insert whatever dumb thing whatever old white person in charge of Microsoft recently said as of your reading], Rare Replay demonstrates that Microsoft is not completely tone-deaf to the requests of its players. Rare Replay is a refreshing return to gaming basics and plain old fun in an age of the console horsepower race.
Rare Replay can be purchased through your Xbox console or on the regular interwebs right here for $30.
Rare Replay game list:
Snake Rattle N Roll
Digger T. Rock
R.C. Pro-Am II
Killer Instinct Gold
Jet Force Gemini
Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Grabbed by the Ghoulies
Perfect Dark Zero
Kameo: Elements of Power
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise
Billy is a freelance writer living in Indianapolis with his dog, BoJack. He enjoys TED talks, video games, sunny days, football, and the salty tears of his enemies.