There are few builders that exemplify nice Nintendo exclusives like Rareware of their heyday. The British studio started as a scrappy upstart, one other NES developer in a crowded house of friends. Yet, they possessed a terrific work ethic and a knack for crafting a variety of colourful, interesting video games that catered to a large demographic. These traits helped them rise to prominence, peaking throughout what many level to as Rare’s “Golden Age” of the 90s.
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Eventually, Rare cranked out so many hits on the N64 that they dominated the lineup alongside the Big N themselves. If you owned an N64, chances are high you had not less than one title from this second-party studio. The 90s had been a excessive watermark for Rare, to make sure. Even their extra inexperienced years of the 80s — and post-Microsoft buyout in 2002 — produced some good outcomes.
Updated December 31, 2022 by Stephen LaGioia: While Rare continues to be usually referred to up to now tense, the Microsoft studio is making themselves identified once more with their improved Sea of Thieves journey, the engaging compilation Rare Replay, and the upcoming Everwild. Thus, we wished to revisit and flesh out this record, swapping out the duds we identified earlier than and as an alternative specializing in a extra constructive observe, with much more of Rare’s finest video games. After all, there are loads to select from.
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10/10 Sea Of Thieves
Many did not know what to anticipate following the announcement of Rare’s first main launch in years, particularly given its distinctive pirate premise. And not less than initially, the sport was met with lukewarm reception, as some pointed to many bugs and empty settings.
But since its 2018 launch, the studio has continued shoring up its seafaring journey with patches, added particulars, and new goodies to gather — together with occasions and DLC to ignite curiosity. The result’s a extra refined plundering co-op romp that is truly turned out pleasant.
While Rare has breathed new life into this collection with a current stylized revamp, it is powerful to beat this old-school brawling hit from ’91. With its onslaught of powerful enemies and obstacles (the notorious, super-fast Turbo Tunnel involves thoughts), Battletoads separates the frogs from the tadpoles.
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The sport brings that hardcore 8-bit vibe with air-tight mechanics and sidescrolling chaos that not often rests. But whereas the gameplay is hard to the purpose of being irritating at occasions, Battletoads shines with satisfying punching and kicking fight, cool outside locales, and a strong co-op mode besides.
8/10 Jet Force Gemini
One of probably the most missed Rare video games on N64 additionally occurs to be one among its finest. This superior third-person shooter blends colourful fantasy and sci-fi with the action-shooting vibe gamers may acknowledge from Goldeneye. It even comes with comparable multiplayer deathmatches, that are fairly thrilling when going through off in opposition to three different gamers.
But the spotlight is the intensive marketing campaign, which has you blasting, jetting, and swimming via 15 distinct worlds. With lush locales and a three-character system (with distinctive talents that enable them to succeed in totally different locations), Jet Force Gemini feels akin to a 3D platformer with weapons, and a inventive one at that.
7/10 Diddy Kong Racing
This charming, distinctive racer tends to get overshadowed by the likes of Mario Kart 64. This is a disgrace as a result of, in a way, it excelled past it. The sport immerses you in a majestically colourful world stuffed with tracks which can be various and memorable — from winter wonderlands to chill sci-fi landscapes.
Diddy Kong Racingbrings a slew of amusing characters it’s possible you’ll acknowledge in different main Rare video games and a trio of distinct automobiles to pilot. You’ve obtained your extra conventional automobiles, however there’s additionally a hovercraft and the notably thrilling airplanes. You’ve even obtained a narrative mode that is impressively fleshed out for an arcade-style racer, with various duties and even boss showdowns.
6/10 Banjo Kazooie
Banjo Kazooie is a kind of distinctive experiences that leaves an impression on most who play it. Just listening to that pretty banjo music hits you with a soothing dose of 90s nostalgia. Though the gameplay and colourful graphics have held up nicely, too, cementing Banjo and his hen pal Kazooie as iconic characters. There’s a motive they had been overestimated as new Smash Bros Ultimate fighters.
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The depth, the variety of actions, and the wealthy nature of Banjo’s environments make for a very memorable journey. At the identical time, there is a charming simplicity to the expertise. Much like Mario 64, Banjo Kazooiedraws you right into a whimsical fantasy world with out going overboard with enormous levels or an absurd quantity of collectibles (Starfox Adventures, anybody?).
5/10 Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Nintendo followers had been greatly surprised when phrase got here out that Rare — the devs behind cute video games like Diddy Kong Racing — would function their cute squirrel in an M-rated sport rife with rest room humor and foul-mouthed dialogue. This marvelous N64 swan track is like Banjo-meets-South Park, with its darker themes and off-color gags. It’s full-blown ridiculous British humor in the easiest way potential.
But the sport is not only a gimmick to throw raunchy themes over a kiddie exterior. Yes, big speaking poo bosses and drunken shenanigans are amusing. But Conker’s Bad Fur Day is, the truth is, a well-crafted 3D platformer, too, with enjoyable homage-paying environments and intelligent writing.
4/10 Goldeneye 007
You knew it was coming: This FPS modified the sport as we all know it, establishing a brand new gold normal of aggressive multiplayer shooters that shook up the gaming scene like a Bond-style Martini. It additionally helps that Goldeneye affords an ideal steadiness of simplicity and depth, making completion pretty easy however providing a great deal of unlockable cheats and tougher missions for many who search it.
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At the identical time, it attracts on the cool environments and fascinating narrative of the movie, providing you with an immersive 007 expertise (regardless of the blocky visuals). Thanks to some interesting gameplay, amusing unlockables (large heads, anybody?), and strong multiplayer, it is nonetheless loadsof enjoyable to play, particularly crowded across the TV with associates.
3/10 Donkey Kong Country
With its fully-rendered 3D fashions, beautiful music, and vibrant, multi-layered locales — Rare shocked the gaming world with one of many best-looking 2D video games of the 90s (SNES or in any other case). Contrasted with that is some fluid, relaxingly-simple platforming bolstered by strong mechanics.
In Donkey Kong Country, you management the lumbering star ape or the lighter, faster Diddy, as you coast via lush biomes wrought with Kremling crocs and different creatures. Among the standout options are the thrilling animal buddies, which convey faster motion and infrequently extra offense — like a juiced-up Yoshi. While on the straightforward aspect, it is laborious to not be enthralled by this joyful, atmospheric romp.
2/10 Perfect Dark
There has been a lot fan debate through the years concerning the prevalence of Goldeneye or this authentic sci-fi shooter from Rare. And certain, Goldeneye holds a nostalgic attraction that is not fairly topped — together with multiplayer that is simpler to get into. Still, it is laborious to disclaim the extra dynamic, well-crafted nature of 2000’s Perfect Dark.
Not solely does the sport convey a completely authentic story and fleshed-out marketing campaign staring agent Joanna Dark, however the multiplayer goes above and past. A co-op marketing campaign, AI bots, and a slew of latest (and Goldeneye throwback) maps are included this time, rounding out this multiplayer gem on N64. There’s a motive avid gamers are begging for this to hit Nintendo Switch Online.
1/10 Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest
There’s no such factor as an ideal sport, however Donkey Kong Country 2 comes about as near a flawless 2D platformer as you may get. This sequel to the ’94 smash hit has nearly every thing. The gameplay attracts from the charming elements of the primary DKC whereas fleshing it out to perfection, with extra creatively designed levels, new animal buddies, and ample collectibles.
The graphics are even prettier, and the environments — which vary from eerie graveyards to thrilling amusement parks — are wealthy, imaginative, and memorable. Its gameplay is an endlessly pleasant journey, strengthened by a basis of strong mechanics.
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