30 Rare Replay Games Ranked From Worst To Best

10. Viva Piñata 

viva pinata rare replay
It took leaving Nintendo for Rare to make its own Pokemon, but when it finally happened, it was the fantastic and underrated Viva Pinata. A bit like a mix between Sims, Pokemon, and Farmville, you collected the many wonderfully well-realized animals made out of crepe paper, each cuter than the last. You would breed them for better results, smash them to collect resources, watch them do a love dance to procreate, and work hard to get more and more rare beasts to show up. Plus, how can you not love witty names like Pretztail and Chenicorn? –Henry

9. Banjo-Tooie 

This sequel was such a sure thing that the first game ends with the characters talking about returning in Banjo-Tooie. And in just two years the bird/bear team did just that, fighting a reborn Grunty and trying to revive their dead friends. The sequel’s world is bigger (and some of the fat from BK got trimmed), but more space meant more collectibles strewn across the ends of the digital Earth. Additionally, Tooie had a number of features cut pre-release, leaving some disappointing spots where something is obviously missing. Thanks to that over-ambition, this one is a little lacking by comparison to the first game. -Henry

8. R.C. Pro-Am 

Precious few NES racers can boast the timelessness of R.C. Pro-Am. It pioneered so many elements that continue to permeate racers; collectibles, weapons, hazards and (unfortunately) rubber-band AI. It’s only got about 45 seconds worth of music but it’s all deployed in a way that you’ll be humming the mini-ear-worms for days after your most recent lap. It never lags or looks ugly, and I still wish we’d see a true reboot from Rare at some point. –Dave

7. Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise 

viva pinata trouble in paradise rare replay 1
Trouble in Paradise got some knocks at the time for being ‘more of the same’ coming two years after the original, but that’s hardly a bad thing when you get to keep hanging out with Fudgehogs. The cutesy yet secretly dark world of Viva Pinata grew bigger in the sequel, adding more online capabilities, new minigames, and more species to breed and collect. Out of the two entries on Rare Replay, this is the one you should start a file on. -Henry

6. Snake Rattle ‘n’ Roll 

Take all of the hallucinatory sequences of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, replace the psychedelic rock with 1950s Doo-Wop music, and then add snakes who just wanna get fat. Snake, Rattle & Roll is a weird ass little game, but it’s one of the more colorful and unique experiences both the NES and Rare Replay have to offer. Extend your tongue to take out bouncing checkers, chomping toilet seats and severed feet as you (and possibly another friend) eat increasingly rambunctious pellets in order to weigh enough to exit the level… yeah, it’s as weird as it sounds. But it’s fun, one of the few isometric platformers that really works, and might even make you smile with cartoon gags aplenty. –Chris

5. Banjo-Kazooie 

Banjo-Kazooie - 4
When Banjo-Kazooie first released, the world was still head over heels in love with the 3D platformer and had not yet gotten sick of the collect-a-thon “Find X of these” missions Rare would become infamous for. When the dust settled on this weird little piece, you could even argue it’s better than the King of all 3D platformers, Super Mario 64 (although I probably wouldn’t.) Strapping a bird to a bear gave you an outrageously deep move set, the textures are better, the overworld is more interesting, the levels are prettier, and like many other games with a Rare logo on it, it has some of the best music this medium has to offer thanks to Grant Kirkhope. Banjo Kazooie has aged a bit, but its charm hasn’t at all. It’s a playable smile. And I’d even bet this will probably get the most attention from players of Rare Replay, regardless of your age or the amount of nostalgia you bring to the table. –Chris

4. Conker’s Bad Fur Day 

Originally intended to be another cutesy platformer in the same style as Banjo and Donkey Kong 64, Conker’s Bad Fur Day had a higher calling — lowbrow jokes! Rare often snuck dirty humor into its games, but in Conker the subtext is all gone. Now it’s full of shit, profanity, sex, and extreme violence… all blanketed in a very British style of humor. That said, the gameplay is very much within Rare’s wheelhouse of classic boss fights and 3D exploration, only now Conker constantly mocks the cliches in front of him. Some elements haven’t aged all that well, but this is Replay’s best 3D platformer thanks to mixing smart gameplay with crude jokes for a winning formula. –Henry

3. Perfect Dark 

If GoldenEye were also a part of Rare Replay, I’d possibly rank it higher, but thanks to licenses and legal bullshit, that’ll probably never happen. But that’s fine, really, because Perfect Dark took all the FPS expertise Rare gained working with Bond and used it on a universe they owned. Perfect Dark was one of the top shooters on N64, and I played it constantly back in the day, only taking breaks when I got dizzy from long periods of first-person movement. The four-player splitscreen battles were just as addictingly fun as with Bond, only now the futuristic setting allowed for more creative (sometimes alien) weapons, which made for even more options for setting up deathmatches. Perfect Dark can’t really compare to most modern shooters, but it’s still good enough to fire up again for nostalgia’s sake in Rare Replay. –Henry

2. Cobra Triangle 

If you’re thinking RC Pro-Am on water you may as well shut the hell up right now. That’s not even the half of it, and bear in mind, smartypants: this boat can also fly. No, this is not a merely a racing game with boats, it’s more a decathlon with a single boat. And that’s an important distinction because as you progressed you could collect power ups and customize your water whip with better speed or acceleration, and even add gun abilities and eventually homing missles. Why? Because this game isn’t RC Pro-Am on water, dammit! There’s not even really a race for pole position here! Instead you’ll obliterate other boats, shoot targets, clear waterfalls with ramps, dodge obstacles, dispose of explosive mines, battle giant bosses and guard a base of shirtless men, making for more varied game types than damn near everything released on the NES. No one’s forcing you to play it, Junior, but if you call it a racing game I will probably punch you. –Chris

1. Blast Corps (by Chris)

GET WREKT! That’s what this game would be called if it came out today, and I really wish it would. Blast Corps’ premise is so simple, so easy to understand, so universally enjoyable, it is truly baffling that it hasn’t been revisited. ALL THERE IS TO IT: Clear a path for a runaway truck carting a live nuclear missile so it doesn’t hit anything and explode. Exactly how you clear that path is what ends up turning Blast Corps into a game that’s part puzzler, part racing game, part drift playground, and part Gundam simulator. The visuals may not have aged well (nor the C-button camera rather clumsily mapped to the right analog stick in Rare Replay) but the “Destroy everything or be destroyed” concept is so sublimely beautiful, it should probably be a launch game on any platform looking to showcasing destructive physics, polygonal power, and/or other explosive texturing.

Furthermore, its got numerous subquests that ask you to revisit stages for better medals, but almost none of them rely on the “Find X things” formula Rare would eventually become infamous for, and instead ask you to light beacon paths, rescue survivors, beat times, uncover satellites, and just BREAK FUCKING EVERYTHING. There are more ways to have fun in Blast Corps than most other games I’ve ever played, and unlike a lot games on this list, there’s nowhere else you can experience anything like it. –Chris


What do you think of our ranking? What’s your favorites (and least-favorites) in Rare Replay? Sound off below!

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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