Tag Archives: Battletoads

Rare Replay Part VII

Well there you go, that was yer’ actual Rare Replay collection. What a long read (and write) that was, but I enjoyed playing and writing.

So here in part VII, I’d like to do a round-up and look at each game and give my view on how they play today. As well as talk about the Rare Replay as a whole product and ask: “is it worth it?”

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First off, I’s like to address a few problems the collection has.

1)Missing games.
Now I know some games are missing due to licencing issues, no Goldeneye as Rare no longer have the rights to James Bond, no Donkey Kong Country as Donkey Kong belongs to Nintendo, etc.
But what about the missing Sabreman games? Sabre Wulf, Underwurlde and Knight Lore are here…but no Pentagram or Mire Mare? Now I know Mire Mare was never released, but Rare (then Ultimate) have said the game was 100% completed and an employee at Rare has even said they had played it. There’s not even a mention of it in the featurette that covers scraped/unrealised games.
What about Killer Instinct? Only Killer Instinct Gold is included in this collection, No Killer Instinct (the original) or Killer Instinct 2?
Plus only Battletoads (NES) and Battletoads (Arcade) are present, Battletoads (Gamyboy) is not here, nor is Battletoads in Battlemaniacs, or any of the other Battletoads games.
Now I know Ultimate/Rare have around 150 games to their name, so yeah obviously they were never going to include all 150…even without licence problems. But it seems strange they only include a few games from a series instead of all of them.
Still, Rare Replay 2 I guess…

2) No remastering/originals/tweaking.
I know that Perfect Dark is the 360 version and not the original N64 one. But Conker’s Bad Fur Day is the original N64 version and not the remastered one. Pretty much all of the N64 era games seem to have at least been up-scaled or are the 360 remasters, but not all of them and it just seems a bit “uneven” overall.
Plus it would have been nice to have also included the original versions of the remasters for “purists” too.
But then there is the exact opposite problem with some of the older games, Knight Lore, for example suffers from some terrible slow down and it ruins the game. I can’t believe I’m playing on a cutting edge Xbox One and Knight Lore (a 30 year old game) suffers slowdown. Surely they could have tweaked and improved the performance of some of the older games to help them run smoother too.

3) Locked content.
I don’t mind unlockables in games…as long as they are done right. One of the reasons I really wanted this collection (other than the games) is for the behind the scenes stuff, the documentaries, the unreleased concept art, the cancelled game coverage, etc. There is loads of this kind of stuff on the Rare Reply disc…but it’s all locked and you have to earn stamps by playing the games to unlock them.
It’s just annoying, I want to watch some of this stuff but can’t until I earn stamps by killing 1500 aliens in Jetpack? Personally I don’t mind having to kill 1500 enemies in Jetpack as I enjoyed playing the game and will most probably do that anyway. But what about people that want to watch the documentaries, but do not want to grind through the games unlocking stamps?
Even more so, you can’t choose what you want to unlock. Content just unlocks automatically in a pre-set order. So you want to watch the making of Conker’s Bad Fur Day video? Well you can’t unless you unlock every other video before it first by grinding for stamps.
The video content, documentaries, etc should have been unlocked from the start for everyone to watch.

Those are my main niggles and they are only niggles onto what the collection does right.

1) Presentation.
The overall presentation is really well done. The idea of having everything happen in a theatre giving you the impression you are going to watch a show is pulled off convincingly. The transitions from menu to game to sub-menus is seamless thanks to the inclusion of vaudeville style posters of the games and characters.
Navigating the menus is also smooth and effortless, with 30 games, info on each game, a menu for each individual game too, a separate challenge sub-menu, a video section for the documentaries, etc. It would be easy to get lost in everything this collection has to offer, but the navigation has been implemented so well you wouldn’t believe how much content is on this disc.
You can go to a game, press A and be taken to another sub-menu for a particular game with all sorts of information, history of the game and so on. Then from this sub-menu you can explore screenshots and handy game hints, look at and adjust various in-game options, go to a help screen with tons of info that will pop up in a sidebar while you play, etc. Or you can just press Y from the main game screen to just go straight into the game. Tap the shoulder button to switch the the next game and so on. Its all just so well designed you never get lost in the huge amount of content the disc has to offer.
You can even press the right stick on the older games to change the screen to a classic CRT display and remember the good old days of low quality visuals, a nice little touch.

2) It’s strong collection of games.
There are plenty of game collections out there and sadly most of them contain 2/3 good games and the reset is pretty bad filler. Rare Replay is definitely not one of those, as a Ultimate fan back in the 80s and a Rare fan in the 90s, this collection really gave me a lot of enjoyment and still has a ton of enjoyment to go yet. I was even surprised at how playable even the very early stuff like Jetpack and Sabre Wulf still were today…aside form some of the afore mentioned slowdown.

3) The Price.
I managed to get my copy for just £15, that works out at 50p a game. For me, this is amazing value for money as there is so much content here. Even discounting the games themselves, there are the videos and documentaries, the history of each game, the individual snapshot challenges, etc. Really one of the most packed and worthy classic game collections out there by far.

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So, about the games themselves then and did I find them playable today?

Jetpac: Its a simple game from a simpler time. Yet I still found myself just wanting to play “one more game” to try and beat my high score. The game-play maybe simple, but it’s still very playable.

Lunar Jetman: Took the basics of Jetpac and added so much more to it. Has very similar game mechanics as the arcade classic Defender, but with a few interesting tweaks and additions.

Atic Attack: You know, I really thought when I got hold of this collection that I’d see my childhood memories distorted and clouded. I honestly thought I’d play these games and realise they are crap. Well this game right here proved me wrong. One of the all time Spectrum classics that is still playable and fun today.

Sabre Wulf: I popped this one on thinking I’d give it 10 minutes and be bored…3 hours later and I was still exploring the jungle trying to avoid that sneaky wulf. I never finished it as a kid, but I intend on finishing it now.

Underwurlde: This was a game I used to play a lot back in the day and while I found it really frustrating today with the way the enemies bump you around, I have to admit to still finding this one’s has a lot of charm and gets you interested in exploring the castle.

Knight Lore: Great little puzzle/adventure game with plenty to do…just a shame about that damn slowdown that really spoils the game.

Gunfright: I didn’t really play this one back in the day and only glossed over it for this retrospective. But I have to admit to liking what I did see on the small amount of time I played it for. This is one I’m looking forward to playing more of soon.

Slalom: Didn’t really enjoy this one. It was too “simple” and just lacked that quality acotioated with the Rare name. It just seemed like a lazy game with not much to it at all.

R.C. Pro-Am: This was a tough one as it really didn’t do anything wrong, but it also does not excel at anything either. Its a fairly middle of the road racing game that just does what it does.

Cobra Triangle: Action packed and plenty of variety. This was a great little game and a return to form for Rare. Definitely one I’ll be playing more of later.

Snake Rattle ‘n’Roll: A classic then and still holds up very well today. A great little two player games with plenty of fun even if you are playing alone.

Solar Jetman: Tough game indeed, but tough does not mean bad. This was a poor seller when originally realised, but I think that was because it was ahead if its time and people were just not ready for it. This is another game I can see myself playing more of.

Digger T. Rock: I’m not sure what to make of his one yet. It seemed a little too “simple” and not really much meat to the game at all. But I’ll spend a little more time with it and see if it gets any better.

Battletoads: Often said to be one of the hardest games ever for the NES. Yes it is hard, but it’s also damn good fun with a great sense of humor and plenty of variety along the way. Yup, I’ll be getting some game play our of this one.

R.C. Pro-Am II: For me, a vast improvement over the first game. Smoother controls with more added to the game overall. I’d chose this one over the original.

Battletoads Arcade: Mindless button bashing fun. Much more bloody and violent than its NES counterpart. Its not a deep or meaningful game, its just fun. But with it being an arcade game, it is designed with a high difficulty curve as to eating all your spare change. Still at least with this version you are not paying to play.

Killer Instinct Gold: Never was a fan of the Killer Instinct franchise to be honest. This game plays well enough and seems like a perfect version if the game…but its just not for me at all.

Blast Corps: One of the overlooked classics from the N64. A simple enough game where all you have to do is clear a path for a constantly moving and runaway explosive device. Simple yes, but also hugely addictive and inventive. Of all the games on the collection, this was the main one I was looking forward to.

Banjo-Kazooie: After the release of the seminal Mario 64 for the N64 that showed the world how great a 3D platformer could be. Many, many developers tried to follow suit and most of them failed. Rare was one of the few that could put together a great 3D platformer and this was one of their best.

Jet Force Gemini: Another one I never really played back then. But I had heard this was a great game. I only played for about an hour to write this article and found the game rather slow. But I plan on going back and spending more time with this one.

Perfect Dark: its Perfect Dark…nuff said.

Banjo-Tooie: More of the same, only improved in every way. One of the best 3D platformer games around and age has not done it any harm either.

Conker’s Bad Fur Day: Probably the most infamous game in the collection. A classic Rare 3D platformer for an more adult audience, a great game and holds up very well.

Grabbed by the Ghoulies: This is one I also originally missed and only quickly glossed over it for this article. But it looked pretty interesting and I can see myself playing through this one.

Kameo: I did play this one on the Xbox 360 a while back but never did finish it. Glad it’s been included here as its a good action/adventure game and I definitely want to play through to the end this time.

Perfect Dark Zero: A downgrade to the original if you ask me, but still a pretty decent FPS with plenty of variety. I can see myself playing this one again.

Viva Piñata: Never played this one originally, but I like the look of it. I’m not sure I have the time to invest to see everything the game has to offer. But I think it’ll be great to dip into it for a little more play time.

Jetpac Refuelled: I really like the original Jetpack and this one improved on it in every possible way. A quick arcade style game with a simple concept, but a great game none the less.

Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise: See my Viva Piñata comment above.

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts: This one passed me by originally to. I enjoyed the first two games and I’ll definitely be giving this one more of a play in the future.

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So there you go, 30 Ultimate/Rare games from over a 30 year career.
But is the whole package any good?

Yes, a thousand times yes.
This really is an amazing collection of great (and a few not so great) games from one of the best and fan favourite games developers of all time.

Even with the games aside, this is still an interesting and in depth history lesson. The video content, documentaries, behind the scenes stuff is worth the £15 price tag alone for me.
The games are an added bonus.

But this collection is really worth getting as there are some simply amazing games included. Many people have been saying the price is with it for Conker’s Bad Fur Day alone…yup, it pretty much is.
If you are an old school gamer like myself and we’re also a fan of Ultimate and Rare, then this is a must buy, go and get it now.

The collection works as a great reminder of “the good old days”,it also works as a nice history lesson and insight to one of the gaming world’s best developers.

Best thing I’ve brought for my Xbox One…wait, I pre-ordered Fallout 4 yesterday.
Best thing I’ve brought for my Xbox One…until November 11th.

Thanks for joining me on this look at the entire Rare Replay collection.
Feel free to read my look at Ultimate/Rare as a developer while you are here.

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Rare Replay Part III

So here we are in part III of this Rare Reply retrospective and we pick up with the Rare/Nintendo partnership going strong from the last few titles. But can they maintain that momentum and bring us another NES classic?

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Snake Rattle ‘n’ Roll: Released for the NES in 1990 by Rare. An action/platformer game using that tired and tested isometric view…again. The game was later ported to the Mega Drive in 1993.

A single or two player game featuring two snakes named; Rattle and Roll. The object of each level is to eat enough “Nibbley Pibbleys” as the game calls them, small round creatures found throughout each level. As you eat, you snake grows (titter) with the idea being that you gain enough weight to jump on and ring a bell at the end of the level that will open the door you need to progress.
Your snakes length increases more (who came up with the idea for this game, was it one of the Carry On team?) when they eat “Nibbley Pibbleys” of their own colour, and they grow even more when they eat the rarer yellow ones.
Each level have one or more dispenser which will randomly spew out the “Nibbley Pibbleys”. However, they can also randomly spew out bombs which can damage the snakes, so you can’t go around eating everything.

You snake growing works as a kind of health bar as each segment on your snake equates to one hit from an enemy, too many hits and you’ll lose all your segments and eventually lose a life.
You can also lose a life if your snakes fall too far of a distance from a platform, if the timer runs out, if you touch a sharp object, or even if you get squashed by an object from above.
Also of note, if you stay in water for too long, a shark will attack and a parody of the Jaws theme will play.

Enemies can be defeated by hitting them with your snake tongue or by jumping on them Mario style.
Throughout the levels are various items; to extend the length of your snakes tongue, give extra lives, extend the time limit and even items that will speed up or reverse the direction of your snake.

Snake Rattle ‘n’ Roll received positive reviews and praise. American video gaming magazine Game Players awarded Snake Rattle ‘n’ Roll the “Game Player’s NES Excellence Award” for 1990 as one of the best games released for the NES that year.
Nintendo Power praised the game for its precise controls and for its blend of puzzle and action elements.

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Next up sees the return of Ultimate/Rare’s original gaming hero.

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Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warpship Returning for the third outing in the Jetman series, developed by Rare for the NES and relased in 1990. Interesting note: early covers misspell the title: Hunt for the Golden Warship instead of the correct Warpship.

A game similar in style to the arcade classic Thrust or Atari’s Lunar Lander. With the player’s ship is subject to inertia, so to stop moving in one direction it needs to thrust in the opposite way and also deal with the constant pull of gravity at the same time.

Solar Jetman has twelve planets and one hidden planet as its levels. Each planet has its own system of winding and maze like caverns full of various enemy types.
The goal of the game is to navigate these maze like caverns via the use of a small jetpod, which is launched from an immobile mothership. On each world, you must bring a piece of the warpship to the mothership and also enough fuel to journey to the next planet. Items are collected with a tow cable which makes the flight control even more difficult as you are now dealing with extra weight on top of the inertia and gravity.
Points are earned by retrieving valuables and items as well as destroying the various enemies you’ll encounter. Those points can then be spent after every other level to buy power-ups. If a jetpod is destroyed, then Jetman ejects in an agile but feeble and poorly armoured spacesuit. But you can return to the mothership for another jetpod.

Solar Jetman met with average reviews and as a result, average sales too. So much so that other planned ports were pulled.

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The original Ultimate gaming hero, Jetman is left behind as we are introduced to a new kid on the “block”.

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Digger T. Rock: Legend of the Lost City: Developed by Rare in 1990 for the NES and relased by Milton Bradley Company. Digger T. Rock was a change of pace and a new idea from Rare.

With you controlling the titular character of Digger T. Rock exploring caverns for hidden treasure an ultimately The Lost City using a similar game-play mechanic to Boulderdash.
The game is divided into 8 separate caverns all of which must be explored while avoiding enemies, cave-in’s, and fatal plunges. Digger can use multiple tools, such as his standard shovel to dig tunnels and explore more of the cavern as well as climb rocks and even some walls. Other equipment such as; ladders and explosives can be found and then be used to explore and uncover new areas within the caverns. Monsters such as moles and mosquitoes need to be avoided or hit with your shovel.

The goal of each cavern is to locate both the end of level door and a special pillar which unlocks the door. When the pillar is found and stepped on, this activates a countdown timer during which, the door is open. You then must must race past obstacles and enemies to the door before the timer ends and the door re-closes.
Later levels include caveman villages where the player can purchase helpful tools with your collected treasure.

Digger T. Rock was another game that met with average reviews, many reviewers noted the games strict difficulty but praised the game for its exploration.

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With the last two Rare games being average at best, they needed something to revive the faith in their fans…maybe a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rip off would work?

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Battletoads: Released in 1991 for the NES, created by Tim and Chris Stamper. This was the first instalment to the Battletoads series and the game was later ported to several other machines.

As single or two player game with each player controlling either Rash or Zitz (yes, that is their names) on a mission to save their friend and fellow Battletoad, Pimple and Princess Angelica who have both been kidnapped by The Dark Queen.

Battletoads is a beat em’ up/platformer with a great sense of humour. The levels offer plenty of variety from simple beat em’ up sections to abseiling and even vehicle and underwater based levels.
A nice touch is how you could defeat enemies with your morphing body parts; punching/kicking with an enlarged fist or boot, head-butting with ram horns or even transform into a wrecking ball to smash the bad guys.

Often cited as one of the hardest games on the NES, but still Battletoads was met with positive reviews.
Nintendo Power ranked the NES version as the 89th best game on any Nintendo platform, commenting: “The graphics created by Rare were so exceptional by any standard and the game was so challenging and fun.” GamesRadar ranked it the 18th best NES game ever made, stating that it was a fun game but its most notable element was its difficulty.
It was nominated for the 1991 Nintendo Power Awards in nine categories, winning the first place in the categories: Graphics and Sound (NES), Theme and Fun (NES), Best Play Control (NES) and Best Multi-Player or Simultaneous (NES).

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We leave the weird and funny world of Battletoads…for a short while, to be greeted with a sequel to one of the better Rare/Nintendo endeavours.

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R.C. Pro-Am II: The sequel to the 1988 hit R.C. Pro-Am. Released in 1992 for the NES, developed by Rare. This one offered a more refined and enjoyable experience over the first game.

R.C. Pro-Am II is very much more of the same, but offers many refinements over R.C. Pro-Am.
Four vehicles compete against each other on a series of 24 different and varying tracks: eight standard racetracks, eight cityscape tracks, and eight off-road tracks. In single-player mode, the player races against three CPU controlled opponents. The game also offers a multi-player mode in which up to four human players can race against each other simultaneously.
Before each race starts, players can use money earned from previous races to buy vehicle upgrades and weapons. These can then be used against other competitors. Upgrades and weapons include: motors for increased speed, tires for better turning and traction, missiles, bombs, and freeze beams to hinder your opponents racing and buckshots which will steal opponents cash.

Also returning are the track hazards like; water, oil, bombs, mud, ice, and even bomb-dropping aircraft that will slow the players speed. The game includes two types of bonus stages that award race points and cash. Scattered around the tracks are letters that spell “PRO AM II”, if you can collect all of the letters you’ll receive a new and faster vehicle with tighter controls.

R.C. Pro-Am II was named Nintendo Power‍‍​‍s best NES game of 1993. Official Nintendo Magazine praised the game overall and its multi-player in particular. Nintendo Power praised the game’s controls and upgrade options, which made the game strategic, but the magazine criticized the difficulty as unfair.

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Well we are at the halfway mark, 15 games in and 15 games left in the Rare Replay collection. In part IV we see the return of the Battletoads and we enter the N64 era of the Rare/Nintendo double act as well as see out the end of the century.

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