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Video Game Review: Rare Replay

August 12, 2015 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
Rare Replay
While Perfect Dark is present and accounted for, GoldenEye is MIA.

Thirty years is a long time. In the gaming industry, it’s practically a lifetime. It’s worth celebrating then that renowned developer Rare has been around for 30 years — even longer if you count its time as Ultimate Play The Game, which evolved into the current company in the mid ’80s — and to do that, Microsoft and Rare are teaming up to package 30 of its favorite games into the Rare Replay.

Before we get into what’s there, let’s take a moment to point out what isn’t. Any of their licensed work for Nintendo, which includes the various Donkey Kong games and Star Fox Adventures among others, is absent for obvious reasons. Also missing is one of the company’s most celebrated titles, GoldenEye 007, since it wasn’t a world created by Rare. However the omission is spun, it seems like a miscalculation to leave out such a beloved title (even if spiritual successor Perfect Dark is included).

Although Rare Replay is a 30-year anthology, it actually contains games from a 25-year period, starting with 1983’s Jetpac (released under the aforementioned “Ultimate” banner) and concluding with 2008’s Banjo -Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts — the studio has exclusively released Kinect games since then. It runs the gamut of multiple generations and genres, and while it’s not the best 30 titles Rare has ever created, it’s a largely excellent sampling.

On our favorites side are Perfect Dark (it’s the 2010 remake, not the 2000 original), Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Viva Pinata, Battletoads, R.C. Pro Am and the surprisingly enjoyable Jetpac. There are also several titles that don’t hold up very well, such as Snake Rattle n’ Roll, Atic Atac and Sabre Wulf, all of which suffer from obtuse controls and confusing objectives.

Granted, you’re able to access the help sidebar at any time to check out the controls, read the story behind the game and a “how to play” section, but it doesn’t always help. Some games are too difficult to wrangle where stuff just sort of happens… and then you die. Still, there’s no reason not to try them all for yourself at least once (you’ll even earn a tidy 15 GS each time).

To help counteract some of those difficulties and make the older games friendlier to today’s gamer, Rare Replay actually allows you to rewind as often as you’d like. While we never timed the exact amount you could go back, it’s pretty generous and enables you to retract enough action that you should be able to get free of danger, at least momentarily.

As a download, it’s worth noting that the Xbox 360 era titles are separate from the main game, though they retain functionality and allow a quick return to the main area. While those titles exist as they did when they initially came out, the older games have been given a series of self-contained challenges (called snapshots) to offer more specific goals to focus on. There’s also several “playlists” that lump together challenges from multiple games with a common thread.

Earning achievements (there’s 10,000 Gamerscore here) and completing snapshots will net you stamps, which increase your rep and unlock a number of video extras. These are well produced and do a nice job of delving into Rare’s history as a company as well as short documentaries about how specific games came into existence. It was great to watch the back story of classics like Battletoads and Killer Instinct, and even games we’re less attached to were interesting to learn about.

If you’re concerned about the technical aspects of rolling 30 games into a single package, please put those worries to rest. Everything about the presentation is well done, keeping things organized with smart menu navigation and minimal load times. It’s nominally clunky the first time you load up the 360 games, but once that runs its course you should be good to go.

OVERALL (4.25/5)

Put simply, Rare Replay is an excellent collection of games — one that reminds us how a great studio has essentially been underutilized with its focus on the Kinect. Here’s hoping that this, along with the upcoming Sea of Thieves, vaults Rare back into a much more prominent role.

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Video Game Review: Godzilla

August 5, 2015 | by Jeff Cater | Comments Comments Off
Godzilla has many offenses to fans of the big lizard and gamers in general. Firstly, the campaign has you destroy power generators. Almost exclusively. In order to beat any mission, it comes down to walking over to the power station and punching it until it turns red and explodes. Ya know, like an old NES boss.
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Video Game Review: King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember

August 1, 2015 | by Herija Green | Comments Comments Off
A Knight to Remember is framed as an aged King Graham regaling his granddaughter, Gwendolyn, with stories of his adventures as a younger man. A brief prologue featuring a one-eyed dragon familiarizes you with the situation, and the remainder of the episode focuses on Graham’s arrival in Daventry to take part in a tournament to establish a new knight.
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Video Game Review: Life is Strange, Episode 4

July 30, 2015 | by Mike Chen | Comments Comments Off
Dontnod has had to incorporate decisions from the past three episodes and create dialogue for all possible outcomes. Given that, there are some notably awkward transitions, where it seems like the dialogue tree permutations didn’t exactly sync up. This is noticeable in two particular sequences, one at a trailer park and one at a party. You’ll feel yourself gaining momentum with the character and then they’ll say something completely opposite.
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Video Game Review: J-Stars Victory VS+

July 28, 2015 | by Jeff Cater | Comments (0)
The “story” is split into four different arcs, but the only thing that changes between them are the characters that you’re able to play as. Otherwise, it’s all sailing and fighting. The fighting is reasonably fun and should appeal to some people, but the action doesn’t feel important at all and is constantly interrupted by the sailing and narrative.
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