We hare finally here, at the last 5 games in the Rare Replay collection…and my fingers are tired.
So what does Rare have install for us in the final stretch, well how about a return to one of their very best games?
Perfect Dark Zero: Not a sequel, but a prequel to Perfect Dark relased in 2005 by Rare for the Xbox 360. Can it live up to or even better the original?
With you, once again playing as Joanna Dark. Set in 2020 where a large percentage of the world is controlled by corporations. You embark on Joanna’s first ever encounter with dataDyne from the first game.
While working with her father Jack Dark and computer hacker Chandra Sekhar, Joanna’s team is searching for Nathan Zeigler, a researcher who has disappeared in Hong Kong, suspected of being kidnapped by a triad gang led by a man named Killian.
Joanna and her father also discover information about a dangerous weapon and corporate betrayal.
Perfect Dark Zero uses the same FPS style from the previous games, but also adds a much more in-depth stealth system. Joanna is much more agile with an evasive dodge roll and even a fully implemented cover system. While Joanna can not jump in the game, she has the ability to automatically climb obstacles and traverse higher areas as long as they are reasonably reachable.
The game features a campaign that is divided into 14 missions, with each mission having its own and various objectives. The campaign could be played in single-player or even Co-Op. Returning too is the much loved multi-player where a maximum of 32 players may compete in numerous types of deathmatch and objective-based games via split-screen, system link, or even Xbox Live.
Opinions for Perfect Dark Zero were quite divided, but mostly positive. GameSpot awarded the game a rating of 9.0/10 stating that the game “champions the Xbox 360 with its excellent assortment of single and multi-player game types, as well as its incredible good looks and dynamic, intense action.” IGN praised the game’s replay value, but also criticised single-player aspects such as the weak artificial intelligence of enemies.
Rare next bring us something very “different” with an all new IP.
Viva Piñata: Released by Rare in 2006 for the Xbox 360. An unusual game based on an idea from Ultimate/Rare founder Tim Stamper and intended to appeal to a more casual gamer audience.
So, what’s it all about then?
Well I suppose one could call Viva Piñata a “life sim” game, in the same vein as something like The Sims or Animal Crossing.
The player is tasked with turning a neglected plot of land on Piñata Island into a beautiful and lively garden. The game is open-ended with no strict winning or losing requirements. Players are guided in a very general way towards tan objective of increasing your garden’s value and attracting other piñata residents.
Developing and maintaining a successful garden requires setting up the land and foliage appropriately to attract specific piñatas, as well as purchasing various items to place within the garden like homes for the piñatas to live in. When certain requirements are fulfilled, the garden will attract a simple black-and-white version of any given piñata species. After fulfilling additional requirements, the piñata will become a full resident of your garden, changing into a full-colour version.
Once two piñatas of the same species are residents and with their mating & romance requirements met, they can perform a romance dance, resulting in a baby piñata egg. The egg with eventually hatch into an all new piñata.
That’s pretty much the game, attract, breed and grow colourful and charming piñata, all while maintaining the needs and the environment of your garden.
There is no “end”, just a completely open-ended garden for you to create and build.
There was also the inclusion of the “bad guys” called Ruffians who would do their best to sabotage your garden and piñata.
Viva Piñata received mostly positive reviews. IGN said that “it is the best Rare game since Microsoft acquired the company in 2002.” Despite the initially discouraging sales figures, the game quickly gained a loyal cult following.
Viva Piñata was nominated for 6 awards by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences for its 10th annual awards covering 2006, the most nominations a Rare title has had since GoldenEye 007.
Rare may have created and all new IP with Viva Piñata, but it never forgot it’s roots either…
Jetpac Refuelled: Jetman is back! Released for the Xbox Live service on the Xbox 360 in 2007. Rare brought back it’s very first game Jetpack for a new generation.
An update/remake of the original Jetpack, rare brought back the original game in style with all new features as well as improved HD graphics and sound.
While still the same basic game as the original, Jetpac Refuelled still brings with it some niffy new ideas including; a multi-player mode that can be played with a friend on a single Xbox 360 or online via Xbox Live. Two players compete on one screen to build, fuel, and launch their rocket first. Items can be stolen from your opponent by shooting it out of their hand or by using an EMP at close range.
There were also new weapons with 3-way fire, beam lasers and even a weapon that will fire upwards as well as directly in-front.
Also included was the original version of Jetpack as well as a brief and interesting history of Ultimate and the Jetman series as a whole.
Jetpac Refuelled met with positive reviews. IGN gave it 8/10 and praised the visuals and multi-player features. Eurogamer awarded the game 7/10 and said “it’s a sympathetic reworking that stands out as one of the better examples of retro grave-robbing we’ve seen.”
Well that was a welcome blast from the past, but back to those darn cute piñata.
Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise: For the Xbox 360, relased in 2008 from Rare. Is the sequel/follow up to the previous gardening/piñata “life sim”.
Pretty much more of the same, with a few bells & whistles thrown in…which is not a bad thing at all.
This time, there is a plot…of sorts.
You are invited to return to Piñata Island and continue your job as a gardener and to maintain yet another garden for the island. This time, not all is well on the island, as Professor Pester and his gang of Ruffians have wiped out Piñata Central’s computer records while attempting to steal the information contained within to overrule the entire island. As a result, all knowledge about piñata species and which piñatas are needed for which parties has been lost, leading to chaos and the slow stop of the island’s way of manner.
You are tasked with assisting Piñata Central in rebuilding the database, achieved by enticing specific piñatas to inhabit the garden, filling them with candy, and sending them off to parties around the world, fulfilling party-goers piñata needs.
The core mechanics of the original Viva Piñata remain in tact here. But also gives players more choices about how to play the game:
Standard Mode: The primary game mode, which includes challenges from sour piñatas, Ruffians, and other forces.
Just For Fun Mode: A mode where players can hop in and immediately begin working on a garden without worrying about running out of money or having to unlock various items. However, certain more exotic piñatas are not available in this mode.
Contests: You can enter your piñata in beauty contests and races, the latter of which requires piñatas to race along a course collecting sweets and avoiding red bombs.
Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise adds 28 new animals to the pre-existing 60 from the last game. There are also two new areas: the cool, icy Piñarctic and the warm, arid Dessert Desert. These two areas are not part of your main garden, but can be visited for the purpose of capturing new piñata.
This sequel also adds full drop-in/drop-out offline game-play for two players and online co-operative game-play for up to four players. This allows additional gardeners to join the game at any time to assist the primary player with any gardening tasks.
Viva Piñata Trouble in Paradise received high marks and several “Editor’s Choice” awards from various reviewers. GameSpot scored the title 8.5/10, praising the greater variety of game-play over the original. IGN also rated the game an 8.5/10 and they did note that the game hasn’t radically changed from its predecessor, primarily providing more of the same.
Well, it’s now the final game in this Rare Replay collection, and look who’s back…
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts: The third game in the Banjo-Kazooie franchise was relased in 2008 by Rare for the Xbox 360. It was a radical change from the previous two games, but was it a good change?
Eight years have passed since Gruntilda’s defeat at the end of Banjo-Tooie. While Banjo & Kazooie have gotten lazy and overweight by eating pizza, playing video games and listening to the radio and since become unfit for adventures. They discover that Gruntilda’s detached head is returning to Spiral Mountain and are about to fight when they are stopped by the Lord of Games (L.O.G.), the creator of all video games. L.O.G decides to finally settle the conflict between Banjo, Kazooie and Gruntilda by devising a series of challenges. L.O.G uses his powers to give Gruntilda an artificial body and to restore the duo’s physical fitness, but not their moves from previous games, claiming that they won’t need them.
L.O.G. transports the characters to his headquarters: Showdown Town and starts the contest. The winner would be set to own Spiral Mountain; the loser must endure eternal hardship at L.O.G.’s video game factory. While Banjo & Kazooie seek to win by completing the challenges, Gruntilda uses her powers and abilities to try to stop the duo, with a cat named Piddles an army of mechanical Gruntbots assisting the witch in her goal.
The game-play mechanic has been changed somewhat over the previous game with vehicles now playing a prominent role in the game and replacing the moves from the other games.
The vehicles can be built freely by the player from over 1,600 different and varying components available, such as body panels, engines, wheels, wings, propellers, fuel and weapons. The physics engine allows the vehicles to behave in relation to how they are built.
The received generally favourable reviews but a few negative points too. GameSpot praised the variety of tools for customization and their mission application. IGN gave the game a score of 8.3/10, calling it “well designed and full of replay value.” Wired was more negative, calling the game “pretty but boring” and “only barely fun, sometimes.” GameTrailers enjoyed the vehicle creation system, yet commenting on the “lack of conventional platforming” in the game, while also criticizing the lack of mission variety. GameTrailers put it at #9 on their top 10 list of the worst sequels due to the differences compared to the original games.
Well that’s it then. All 30 games covered in the Rare Replay collection, but wait…there’s more. Part VII where I talk about the collection as a whole and offer quick opinions on the games today and how they play.