Rare Replay Review (Xbox One)
Nostalgia is a powerful thing. Bringing back memories of a lost age of innocence is a sure way to make people very happy, and Rare Replay has nostalgia pouring out of it. Every single part of this game was designed with the long-tenured player in mind, especially the hilarious introduction song that describes the developer's thirty years in the business. Thankfully the games play just as enjoyably, creating a really fun package of games that are sure to delight both the young player and the more seasoned vet.
The names included in this packages are like a who's who of games I played as a kid. Banjo-Kazooie! Battletoads! Snake Rattle N Roll! Conker! There's 30 total games in Rare Replay, ranging from the ZX Spectrum all the way up to the Xbox 360, and every single one runs like it belongs on the Xbox One. That's a heck of a feat being able to pull that off, so good on you Rare.
Thirty games is a lot to cover in one package, but Rare Replay presents everything with the same amount of respect and focus. Each game has its own little section where I can view my achievements, see my top scores, and launch the game. These sections are backed by remixes of the game's familiar music, giving even a modern feel to the retro music. Sabre Wulf especially sticks out to me, as it turns the wooden bleeps and bloops of the original ZX Spectrum theme into a song of mystery and intrigue highlighted by magnificent harp play and background strings. That's the kind of attention to detail I can get behind.
The game themselves play flawlessly, activating quickly and letting me get right into it without any issue. I can play to my heart's content, then quickly exit and move to another game just by holding in the Menu button and choosing to quit. Controls are easily mapped to the Xbox One controller, especially in the case of Jet Force Gemini which offers modern controls for newer players.
If I don't have time for a full game I can play Snapshots, tiny challenges ripped right from certain parts of each game that unlock more content as I complete them. It could be defeating a boss in Battletoads or reaching a certain score in Atic Atac, but each one ranges from a snap of the fingers to a real challenge. These Snapshots were also the only place I had any technical trouble at all; during my run in Snake Rattle and Roll's Snapshots (Snake Rattle and Roll being the best part of the compilation and I will hear no opinions to the contrary), the game would periodically crash and send me back to the Xbox One menu whenever I failed and chose to continue. I don't know what that bug was about or why it happened, but it happened more than once.
There's one part of the way Rare Replay works that I'm not particularly fond of, and it has nothing to do with actually playing the games. While the retro games are all stored in the one Rare Replay file, any games that launched on Xbox 360 are instead treated like Backward Compatibility titles as was debuted at E3 this year, becoming its own separate file with its own separate launchable tile. I can still launch the game from Rare Replay, but in doing so it forces me out of the main package and into the separate game. Even more strange is that each file requires the disc to be in the system if the game was purchased retail, defeating the entire purpose of loading it onto a disc in the first place.
This doesn't sound like a big deal and really it's not, but it's a source of annoyance having to launch in and out of games over and over again just to collect achievements or stamps. It's a bit clumsy, requiring constant back and forth movement that could have been avoided with a better system. Perhaps this was just a way for Microsoft to test the Backward Compatibility initiative with a wider audience, and if so there needs to be better implementation.
Despite that tiny gripe Rare Replay does an incredible job of bringing back some of the best games of the past 30 years into one convenient place. It's a great trip down memory lane, one that I bet will bring a lot of smiles to faces young and old. Now if you'll excuse me I have to get back to helping a bear and a bird collect puzzle pieces to stop a mean old witch. Ah, the good old days...
This review was completed using a downloadable copy of Rare Replay provided by the publisher for Xbox One.