Monday, 10 August 2015

Chart-Topping 'Rare Replay' Is Xbox One's Surprise Summer Hit

rare replay
July and August have been mostly devoid of big-name game releases, larger publishers content to leave a large void in their schedules right before the craziness of fall kicks in (starting literally September 1st with the release of both Metal Gear Solid V and Mad Max). But there’s been one exception that has risen up the charts and delighted critics and fans alike.
That would Rare Replay, the 30-pack of classic remastered games from Microsoft-owned Rare. It’s an Xbox One exclusive, and has just debuted at number one on the UK charts. That’s significant because not only is it Xbox One’s first exclusive to grab first place there, but it’s also Rare’s first number one since N64′s Banjo-Kazooie in 1998.
Rare Replay boasts an impressive 85 Metascore with a (trust me it’s good) 7.9 user rating, an example of a remaster done right. But it’s a lot different than last-gen-to-this-gen remasters we see all the time now, as Rare has managed to pull even ancient games back into the limelight. Battletoads, anyone?
It’s been interesting to note that somehow, Xbox One now has more classic N64 games playable for it than Nintendo’s virtual console.Rare Replay allows hits like Perfect Dark, Banjo-Kazooie and Conker’s Bad Fur Day to be playable on Xbox One, while they remain absent from Nintendo’s catalog due to Microsoft’s purchase of the studio. The only sad footnote about Rare Replay is that they’re missing games like Donkey Kong Country and perhaps their most famous game, Goldeneye 007, due to licensing issues, the first with Nintendo themselves, the second with…I’m not sure actually. MGM?
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Whatever the case, Rare Replay is a breath of fresh air for Rare themselves, and also for Xbox One, who is looking ahead toward what should be a strong fall for them. I’ve said repeatedly that fall 2015 will be the best chance Xbox One will ever have to make up ground on its competition, the PS4, due to the major releases of exclusives like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Halo 5, while Sony has delayed their biggest game, Uncharted 4, to 2016, and has little else to replace it. But it’s a pleasant surprise that August has brought two remasters that might kick off the trend early, Rare Replay, and later Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, which comes bundled with every Gears game in addition to remastering the first one in the series. Though I will say PS4 has scored a pretty big win with the unexpected success of Rocket League this summer, the competitive car soccer game that’s as addicting as it is innovative (though the game is also on PC).
It’s tough in this day and age for an exclusive game to top the release charts, but Rare Replay has a few advantages with relatively week competition these past two months (other games in the list include older titles like Arkham Knight, The Elder Scrolls Online and even GTA 5). It also is essentially a half-priced game, with the 30 remastered titles on sale for $29.99 in the US, and £19.99 in the UK. So some may discount the sales due to the base price, but if the profit margin is the same, it shouldn’t matter.
Rare seems to be poised for something of a renaissance. After years of being underused and forced to make Kinect-focused games, Microsoft seems ready to employ them to get back to what they do best, building fun, family-friendly games. Many expected Rare to debut a new Banjo-Kajooie sequel at E3 this year, but instead we got Sea of Thieves, what appears to be a cartoony pirate MMO. It’s certainly not what anyone was expecting, but a modern day, original Rare IP with presumably more creative freedom than they’ve had for years is definitely something to get excited about all the same.
In a few weeks we’ll head into the fall and Rare Replay will probably be forced down quite a few spots on the charts, but this is a very impressive debut, and a not-insignificant tool in Microsoft’s exclusive arsenal in a time when they desperately need it.

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