30 Rare Replay Games Ranked From Worst To Best

20. Solar Jetman 

solar-jetman-rare-replay
Despite nobody I know asking for it, in 1990 Jetman rocketjumped from the ZX onto the NES with Solar Jetman, and he’s slightly better this time around. Not only are the many planets he visits much more visually interesting, the gameplay is more varied as well. That said, it’s got the same painful difficulty curves similar and floaty exploration similar to Ecco The Dolphin, and having to carefully lift parts out of caverns is like a more frustrating version of Operation. Even when it gets a lot deeper, there still isn’t a whole lot to love about this astronaut. -Henry

19. Slalom 

slalom-rare-replay
Slalom is a great representation of slalom skiiing, from navigating between flags to hitting piles of snow at advantageous angles. Unfortunately, slalom skiiing alone isn’t quite enough to make a game worth playing for more than ten minutes. Props to Rare, however, for making one of the most pronounced 8-bit butts ever. All you have to do is press down and then it’s “stupid sexy slalomer” time! –Dave

18. Digger T. Rock 

digger-t-rock-rare-replayShame on a Digger who tries to run a game like Digger T. Rock! JK, ya’ll. This game isn’t all that bad, and at least contains a handful of great tunes and some of the most adorable sprites the NES has to offer. Sad that Rare had to juxtapose that charm with a cave exploration game that feels like playing Splunky with only 1/8th of the screen visible. Hope you like pit death! –Chris

17. Kameo 

kameo rare replayKameo does do a few things right; even as an Xbox 360 launch game, some of the weather effects are still impressive, and the playstyle is freshened every few hours with new elemental warriors for the eponymous heroine to play as. However, as far as beat-em-ups AND platformers go, there’s far better fare to be found in Rare Replay, as this adventure is a few hours too long for its own good. –Dave

16. R.C. Pro-Am II 

rc-pro-am-2-rare-replay
Any kid who played R.C. Pro-Am back in the day probably would have traded their most valuable baseball card for multiplayer racing. R.C. Pro-Am II did add that feature, but it came with some tradeoffs. Smaller sprites and a less-stable racing experience were the major sacrifices that made the overall experience feel a bit less Pro. While two-player racing is fun, the lack of a split screen brought the rubber-band AI to the less-skilled controller-wielder. -Dave

15. Jet Force Gemini 

jet force gemini rare replay
After so many games featuring cute mammals collecting things, Rare bucked a few trends with this sci-fi adventure in 1999. The cutesy design was there, but this ambitious mix of action, platforming, and shooter elements had a more original feel, as did the intriguing, bug-filled world it took place in. Unfortunately, a lot of the gameplay and presentation hasn’t aged well in the time it took Jet Force Gemini to come to Xbox One. Shooting without a second stick just doesn’t feel right, and the silent cutscenes are more laughable than engaging. Thumbs up for even getting this on the disc, but JFG just isn’t what it used to be. –Henry

14. Battletoads Arcade 

battletoads-arcade-rare-replay
This literal RAREity falls so low on the list mostly due to its tragically wasted potential. This somewhat obscure, EA-published coin-op had damn near everything going for it on paper. Not only did arcade hardware offer up some beefier tech specs than the consoles of the day, but being free of Nintendo’s skittish censorship policies of the late 80s/early 90s allowed the ‘Toads to be as bad as they wanna be. And thankfully, yes, you’ve got plenty of blood, nut-punches, eye-gouging and all the toilet humor a pre-teen could ever want from an edgy Ninja Turtles knockoff. However, the plane of movement was reduced to a rail thin line, leaving a much smaller playing field than the original NES game. As a result, Battletoads plays more like slow sidescroller than the M-rated beat-em-up we were all hoping for. -Chris

13. Grabbed by the Ghoulies 

grabbed-by-the-ghoulies
Perhaps the biggest surprise of Rare Replay is Grabbed by the Ghoulies. It’s nowhere near great, but it’s far more charming and enjoyable than the critical pounding warranted a dozen years ago. Thanks to Rare Replay’s new coat of paint, this OG Xbox game (Rare’s first for Microsoft’s platform) looks pretty snazzy and the simple beat-em-up gameplay is made at least slightly interesting with the ability to pick up weapons. It’s a bit too simplistic and kiddie-focused to reach the Conker-Banjo-Viva strata, but GbtG is work giving a second look now that it’s been updated. –Dave

12. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts 

banjo kazooie nuts and bolts rare replay
At the time of this game’s release, Triple-A gaming was becoming FPS obsessed and a burgeoning indie dev community could only offer so much in the field of throwbacks. Nobody was making 3D platformers like Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie anymore, and as a result many of us old nerds were looking to Nuts & Bolts as a return to Rare form and the revival of a genre that was largely ignored by Microsoft and Sony at the time. While there is still a glimmer of that forsaken genre here, it’s hamstrung by a tacked on vehicle-building novelty that essentially provides players with 1001 ways to build a self-propelled shopping cart. Worse still, this made a lot of the levels feel even more vast and barren than the N64 days even though the Xbox 360 had two generations worth of enhanced hardware under the hood. -Chris

11. Battletoads 

battletoads-rare-replay
This probably would’ve ranked a helluva lot higher if it wasn’t for that fucking jet bike level. The first two levels are so damn charming, unique and really get the most out of the last days of Nintendo’s 8-bit hardware. I swear, Battletoads could’ve proved to be one of the Top 10 NES games ever made, but it had to go and crush that hope with an insanely, brutally difficult level early in the game. As a result, not only has most of the world never seen the rest of the game without a fucking Game Genie, I’ll bet younger folks firing it up in Rare Replay will simply walk away forever, as the rewind feature isn’t enough to overcome most of Battletoads’ more frustrating scenes. Enjoy your spot, you almost-classic. –Chris

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *