30 Rare Replay Games Ranked From Worst To Best

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What are the best and worst titles in the Xbox One’s celebration of Rare’s legacy? We rank all 30 of Rare Replay’s games for you right here.

If you played games in the ’90s and late ’80s, Rare/Rareware was one of the top developers on Earth. Whether making some of the most weirdly satisfying games on the NES, working with Nintendo to redefine its famous gorilla, or creating some of the best titles on the N64, the team in Twycross, Leicestershire earned its dedicated fanbase with each new title. When Microsoft bought the company in 2002, it seemed like a new chapter in its stunning history. The results… were not exactly spectacular, and Rare went through a rather dark period that it seemed would be the end for the company.

After having so many projects cancelled and losing many of their veteran game makers, Rare mainly worked on Kinect titles that appeared to ignore a legacy. That changed in Rare’s third decade, with the surprising launch of Rare Replay. The Xbox One title offers 30 classics many thought would never see release again, all with impressive HD transfers and a boatload of extras for a reasonable $30.

After finally playing the full collection, the knuckleheads at Laser Time decided that having 30 games in one package was the perfect excuse to rank every single one of them from worst to best. So Chris, Dave, and Henry got together and did a thorough exploration of the disc to come to this definitive, unimpeachable ranking. Let’s start from the bottom, with some mild apologies to any ZX Spectrum fans. We just calls it like we sees it.

30. Gunfright

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At some point Rare would master the isometric presentation but it sure as shit isn’t here. It’s difficult to see what’s going on here and the “gameplay” appears a bit like black and white closed circuit security cam footage in the upper right. Sheriff Quickdraw’s wanders the barren “Western” landscape hoping to randomly encounter a handful of outlaws, but the game is so criminally boring you’d be forgiven for shooting civilians to pass the time… except that the game doesn’t forgive you for that. Instead you’ll be fined to literal death, so good luck with this walking simulator –Chris

29. Lunar Jetpac 

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Okay, look. Can you maybe cut us Yankees a little slack? We didn’t grow up with ZX Spectrums, so we do not share the five-colored tinted glasses of Europe’s rosey nostalgia. This game plays like a slower Moon Patrol set in the middle of one clusterfuck of a meteor shower. It took us far too long to interpret the convoluted screen directions into something playable, and even then it’s more punishing than fun. -Chris

28. Jetpac

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Is it sacrilegious to put the opening salvo from Rare (then known as Ultimate Games) so low on the list? Just about everything from Rare’s pre-NES days hasn’t aged all that well, and while Jetpac has moments of fun as you float around and pick up rocket ship parts, it’s too clunky and chaotic to enjoy in larger doses. They improved the formula a bit when it was remade some 23 years later, but unfortunately, it wasn’t by much. -Dave

27. Killer Instinct Gold 

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We already had the two best iterations of Killer Instinct on the Xbox One — the launch revival has a bundle that includes the 1994 original — and thanks to Rare Replay, we have the worst of the trilogy, too. The original has a simplicity that makes it approachable; much like the original Mortal Kombat it’s not exactly EVO-worthy, but it’s a fun relic to play a few rounds with. A lot of the Nintendo 64 games in Rare Replay are dated in various ways, but Killer Instinct Gold is just ugly. The character models the typical mid-90s CGI abominations blown up to comically large proportions and the combat is too slow to enjoy on the madcap level of the original and latest releases. -Dave

26. Sabre Wulf 

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When I try to mentally travel back to 1984, I could see the prehistoric presentation of Sabre Wulf having some effect on me. But as it stands now, the ultra-simple spin on early adventure games isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seeing your doofy lead hobble around to get attacked by every beast of the jungle gets boring fast, as does the vanilla search for high scores by collecting treasure. And the sound effects are just so blunt — and with virtually no music to speak of — that the noise is even more annoying. Were it up to me, I’d just leave Sabre Wulf stranded in the desert. -Henry

25. Jetpac Refuelled 

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Everyone looks back at Xbox Live Arcade’s origins with rose-colored glasses, but a lot of the early stuff was cheaply done. For every Geometry Wars Retro Evolved and Pac-Man Championship Edition, there was a Feeding Frenzy and a Marble Blast Ultra. Jetpac Refuelled was one of the latter camp. Of all the games in Rare Replay it’s one of the few that shouldn’t look dated but still manages to; the background and the newly designed characters clash, while the gameplay isn’t all that evolved from the original save for a few overblown effects. What should be the perfect bookends in Rare Replay are both showcases that what worked (32 or 9) years ago doesn’t work today. -Dave

24. Perfect Dark Zero 

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Oh, to recall a time when I had high hopes for what Rare would do on the Xbox 360. After putting out next to nothing on the original Xbox, two games were launching Microsoft’s next system (and one was the prequel to a game I spent hundreds of hours playing)! However, when the fateful day came, Perfect Dark Zero flew like a lead balloon, disappointing many with some weak visuals, even weaker gameplay, and multiplayer that paled in comparison to Xbox 360 launch superstar Call of Duty 2. Joanna Dark’s anime flavored redesign was plenty unsightly as well, leaving many hardcore fans bewildered about what went wrong. Little did they know this would be the start of the dark ages. -Henry

23. Knight Lore 

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Knight Lore isn’t all bad; it’s probably the best-looking ZX Spectrum game in Rare Replay, and the concept of turning into a “werewulf” is a neat idea. Unfortunately, the clunky and slow isometric platforming isn’t as engrossing as it was 31 years ago and turning into a wolf makes matters worse when it should be a way to run faster and take more damage. At least it did wolf transformations better than Sonic the Hedgehog! -Dave

22. Underwurlde 

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I’ll give Underwurlde credit for having the side-scrolling, open world genre locked down years before Metroid came to the NES. Plus, compared to the similarly meandering Sabre Wulf, this one is more fun to play by leaps and bounds. It makes adequate use of the ZX’s limit amount of colors, and works relatively well as a platformer compared to its ZX brethren. This is all faint praise for a game that still hasn’t aged all that well since 1984, but it’s a damn sight better than a lot of the other games Rare made pre-NES. –Henry

21. Atic Atac 

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Like most of Rare’s ZX Spectrum output, Atic Atac is painfully obtuse, but it does have a charm all its own that puts it ahead of most of the pre-NES pack. Instead of the still-yet-to-be-mastered isometric style of some of the Spectrum stuff, Atic Atac utilizes a top-down style that gives the game sort of a proto-Zelda style. It’s a technicolor, somewhat ugly proto-Zelda style, but one I’d stick with over the Sabreman series. -Dave

22 thoughts on “30 Rare Replay Games Ranked From Worst To Best

  1. Wow didn’t realize there were so many of those old ZX spectrum games on here. I know that’s a big part of Rare’s history but I can’t imagine most of those are that fun to play today.

  2. I would have thought I’d played more Rare games, but the only ones here that I’ve played are the NES ones. It sounded like a great deal when I heard about it , but it sounds like very few of the games are really worth playing. I wonder how many more fun Rare games are missing?

  3. Great stuff guys, I hadn’t realized just how huge this collection was! Chris’s longtime enthusiasm for Cobra Triangle actually inspired me to pick it up as one of my first NES games when I started my retro game collection, and it still holds up and plays remarkably well.

  4. I’m one of those guys who is too young to have played most of these, so this is my first time for most of them. Is there any way to change the controls for Snake Rattle n Roll because I push up and the game goes right as far as my perception is concerned. Most games offer two directional options for isometric games, but I can’t find that.

    Also, is it just me or do half of these games (particularly older ones) feel like they are eternal ice levels? There’s a delay in when everything stops moving and it keeps moving when I stop. I went into Jet Force Gemini, flicked the control stick up quickly and let go, and there was just about a full second of delay before the character moved. Is it supposed to be that way, does this collection have some issues, or is there a problem on my end? I also wish there were button mapping options for most of the N64 games, or at least an option for a control scheme that matches the norm of what game controls have been since 2001.

    I guess I’m too young for this.

  5. Apparently Jet Force Gemini is getting dual-stick controls patched in at some point, so that raise it up higher.

  6. Great read and I agree with much of these rankings, though I’d place Solar Jetman much higher on my personal list. I grew up playing that one and always found its atmosphere creepy and its planet design interesting. David Wise offers one of the most eerily ambient soundtracks of his career, and if you find yourself running out of lives frequently, there are always passwords. Still, it’s definitely not a game for everyone due to its slow pace and obtuse lack of direction. You don’t get to stomp on buildings or shoot up sea dragons in Solar Jetman, so I concede it’s not an immediate catch.

  7. Banjo-Kazooie all the way for me and the first time I played it was only a few years ago so no nostalgia here. It’s just straight up fun, colourful and full of joy and charm that we sorely lacked the over the last decade outside of first party Nintendo titles.

    I think yesterday’s stream of Conker was more than enough evidence why it’s worse off as a game for me. That is unless Conker does eventually pick up the pace that is, I’ll play that one soon enough, Henry has sold it well.

    I haven’t played Blast Corps yet but now I think it’s definitely next on the list, been awhile.

  8. Really loved Perfect Dark, I probably played that game more on the N64 than any other because of how customizable each match could be. That is something that modern shooters really seem to lack. With only the Halo Forge resembling anything like it, but still not the same.

    My favorite memory, putting on a bunch of easy bots, nothing but remote mines, letting them cover the walls (and each other) with mines for 5 mins (they wouldn’t detonate them for some reason) and then setting one mine off yourself. The resulting explosions would basically freeze up the N64 for 5 minutes of non stop explosions.

  9. Yeah, them N64 Rare games are awesome, and, as much as I’d like to play the Limey card, the ZX Spectrum games haven’t aged well at all – I tried to play Atic Atac recently and I’ve NO IDEA what’s going on.
    (But Solar Jetman is ace, you guys)

  10. I clicked on this article to hear Chris give Cobra Triangle the sweet, sweet love it deserves. You never disappoint, Antista! Never would’ve heard of this game if you hadn’t talked it up so much back on TalkRadar, and I’d be a shittier man for it.

  11. Great article, KI Gold I believe is actually included in Season 2 of Killer Instinct on Xbox One. I haven’t grabbed it yet though. I haven’t played these games in so long, I need to dig through my boxes and see if I can find my original copy of Blast Corps.

  12. Great article! But how dare you badmouth marble blast ultra…

    Leading up to Rare Replay, I decided to 100% Banjo Kazooie 360 which I bought years ago. Now having done that, I’m pretty sure I hate the game. Sure the beginning levels were great, the last few were brutal. The seasonal tree one, which was very innovative, forced me to climb that fucking tree 100s of times and I kept falling due to poor camera angles, cheap platforming, and those god damn birds. Then came the quiz, which was ridiculous. Instant kill questions based on how many hoops did you jump through in the whale and that annoyingly difficult bee minigame. Then the final boss where you have to flying bomb the flying witch. Ugh. I probably shouldn’t have tried to 100% it, finding every last music note may have driven me mad. It must have been a marvel at the time, but I find it hard to recommend Banjo Kazooie to anyone. I don’t know if I will even play Tooie.

    (You forgot the w in chewnicorn btw)

  13. Great article as always.

    Jetpac was actually included as an extra in Donkey Kong 64, along with the original arcade Dokney Kong. Racking up a certain high score in that ancient game would unlock a coin that was required for 100%, so I of course spent hours of my time playing through it. And I actually thought it was a lot of fun.

    As a kid, I just assumed it was some old Nintendo game I’d never heard of. I had no idea that it was from the ZX Spectrum! To think, Rare tricked millions of American children into playing a ZX Spectrum game.

  14. Totally disagree on Jetpac. I find it to be pretty fun honestly and would say 21ish is a better fit. Once you practice with it for about 20 minutes, the controls and patterns are pretty easy to suss out.

    Would have never guessed Grabbed by the Ghoulies to be that high up on the list. Nice to see the Rare Replay is removing a few warts from their history, especially with Jet Force finally being fucking playable.

  15. Of course, after watching this video, you may just chalk that up to me sucking, and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong! Rare’s imagination is on display here with some fun movie parodies and the still-hilarious Great Mighty Poo sequence, but the core gameplay and level design are really clunky and poorly thought out compared to some of the developer’s other great games of this era.

  16. Man…I’ve played precisely two games from this bundle. Banjo-Kazooie, which I do remember playing and it was pretty fun at the time. I’m sure it’s completely dated and mind-numbingly boring now. The other is Jet Force Gemini. Holy shit, I completely forgot about this awesome game! I had to watch some YouTube video to jog my memory. It still looks really fun; I remember really enjoying the shooting mechanics and the aesthetic of the levels. Am I the only one that sees the amazing similarity between Jet Force Gemini and the Halo series? Drones that are easy and fun to kill, tree top snipers that shoot you from long distances and enemy tank monsters that shot powerful blasts in your general direction.

  17. Why was my name stolen ThatDAMN KID is mine and has been sense i was like 13 im now 22 even have proof of it on xbox and playstation… And a few vids on peoples youtube

    1. How hilarious is it that this guy thought people cared or even knew about his monotonous moniker. Friggin millennials, man…

  18. I’m sure these reviews hardly matter at this point, unless there are others reading who, like myself, are late to the party. However, should you find yourself in that category- please don’t let them prevent you from missing out on this superb collection. Outside of the value pre-nes critiques (each of the games being so oblique as to leave you completely clueless in regards to what you’re even supposed to be doing), the rest are incredibly unfair and over-simplified attempts at poor humor which ignore both the context of the games’ release dates and the generally massive fanbases that continue to enjoy the titles in question even today. The ranking orders are so laughably skewed that it’s fairly obvious they were either picked randomly out of a hat or are based entirely upon subjective nostalgia. They in no way rely upon or even account for factors based in reality. Should you also expect any of these dated games to be as polished as a modern video game or are willing to discount an entire entry for one or two flaws that are perfectly understandable in context of their limitations, then by all means take these reviews at face value and move along. Should you, however, be capable of both reason and drawing your own conclusions- you’d be doing yourself a favor by giving each title a fair run. There are redeeming qualities to them all.

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