My Top-10 Games by Rare

Rareware is one of my favourite game companies and today I decided to share my favourite games by them.

10. Jet Pac

One of Rare’s earliest titles, back when they were still part of Ultimate: Play The Game. In this simple arcade style shooter/platformer your mission is to gather all the pieces of your space-ship, gather enough fuel and then escape on to the next dangerous planet while avoiding and blasting away at dangerous alien life-forms.

Jet Pac is one of those games that’s just plain old fun. It doesn’t matter that the idea seems ridiculously simple (remember my Top-10 Mario Games list) because the game is just fun to play. The game is so good Rare even included it in Donkey Kong 64.

But of course Rare would go on to greater and bigger things, so let’s move on.

9. Battle Toads

Rare’s beat-em-up classic, Battle Toads isn’t just a fun game – it’s also one of the most notoriously difficult games for the NES. What appears to be a cheap Ninja Turtles knock-off is in fact an incredibly fun comic-book style adventure where you get to rid yourself of annoying enemies in numerous creative ways.

Add to this some more impressive graphics and a catchy soundtrack – you can see why this game is still well liked by many. The game’s multiplayer splits opinions and I’m definitely one of those people who thinks that if you have a co-operative multiplayer mode, you shouldn’t be able to harm your friend.

However, as fun as Battle Toads is, the difficulty may be too much for most people…

8. Snake Rattle N Roll

This was one of the first NES games I ever played and I have to say, still one of my favourites. It’s a simplistic 2D platformer with an isometric view-angle, which appeared to be a trend in Rare’s games in the late 1980s. In the game you’re a snake (either Rattle or Roll depending if you’re player one or player two) who eats balls to grow its tail big enough to make the scale ring and open the exit to a level.

Not only do you have to contend with tricky landscapes of the levels as well as various traps, your enemies include hopping tyres and mushrooms, toilet-seats-come-to-life, an invisible shark that comes after you if you fall in the water and a Monty Python style disembodied foot which will crush you if you’re not careful.

Add some rather impressive graphics for a late 80s NES game and some cheery music and you’ve got yourself a devilishly addicting game.

7. GoldenEye 007

Okay, okay, so I did quite like GoldenEye back in the day. For one thing, it was definitely one of the better movie-licensed games available for the systems of the day. Not only that, but the game actually tried to do something different with the FPS genre, by adding additional goals and objectives you had to achieve in order to pass a level, instead of just killing everybody and getting to the goal like in practically every other FPS game.

I also liked the fact that you didn’t get any health power-ups since this forced you to think and be careful and not just run into danger, guns blazing. Not only that the game had a really neat soundtrack, almost on par with the movie it was based on.

However, I feel this game gets praised more than it honestly deserves. What I remember most from it is the frustration of playing through a level, first having to figure out where I’m even supposed to go and avoiding being shot to ribbons by armies of enemies, and then finding out that I couldn’t play the next level because I accidentally shot a scientist (or Boris) in the back when I wasn’t supposed to.

6. Diddy Kong Racing

Still my favourite Mario Kart clone, Diddy Kong Racing not only gave you the excitement of driving little cars with cartoon characters, but also hovercraft and airplanes. The colourful and varied tracks just added a lot variety and the cheery soundtrack, though perhaps not Rare’s best, still puts me in a good mood.
Even though only three of the playable characters in this game would go on to have significant game appearances (Diddy, Banjo and Conker), I thought the cast was very well rounded up and I quite like all of the character voices, except for Pipsy.

Also, Diddy Kong Racing included something quite unique for a racing game, a story-mode. Although not exactly a necessary addition it does help the game stand out well.

5. StarFox Adventures

I don’t care what anyone says, I love StarFox Adventures. After the excellent Lylat Wars (StarFox 64) I actually wanted to see the StarFox characters in a serious, plot-driven game. What started off as seemingly interesting N64 twilight years title named Dinosaur Planet, became the serious StarFox game I had hoped for.

Not only is it probably one of my favourite GameCube games visually, but I also felt the soundtrack was excellent and the cutscenes kept the story lively and interesting. You had lots of great locations and tons of variety to keep the game from getting stale. The voice-acting was definitely a mixed bag, but for the most part I personally enjoyed the actor performances.

This game got a bad rep in the day because it didn’t have as much space-flight action as people would have wanted. While I admit it would have been nice to have at least one or two levels devoted entirely to space-battles (instead of having the space-flight sections simply as a bonus level while loading the bigger areas in the game), I don’t think the game is any worse for it. Really, my biggest problem was the repetitive combat mechanics which really just came down to tapping one button.

4. Banjo-Kazooie

I really wanted to include Donkey Kong 64 on the list, but I felt there would be too many DK games because of that so I’ll instead include the next best thing. Banjo-Kazooie was Rare’s first big title on the Nintendo 64 and it immediately raised the bar for all other 3D platformers.

The colourful, vast and varied levels, not to mention the zany characters, contributed to this becoming the single biggest gameplay experience on the N64 until DK64. The smooth and varied gameplay also ensured you weren’t going to get bored with the title.

However, to be honest, I never managed to beat Banjo-Kazooie and a huge part of the problem is that the game requires such an insane devotion to get every single Jiggy in the game. However, the game had a massive impact on the industry as a whole, so its spot in the Top-5 is certainly warranted.

3. Conker’s Bad Fur Day

With Banjo-Kazooie out and Donkey Kong 64 in the horizon, Rare became concerned that Conker the Squirrel’s big game debut was going to be over-shadowed by their other family oriented 3D platformers. So instead, Conker’s Bad Fur Day became their first and only adult-oriented platforming experience.

The game is cool as shit. Voice-acting, toilet humour, swearing, sexual references and gory violence, not something you would associate with a platformer for a start. The immature sense of humour just makes this a great game and one of the stand-out titles of the N64.

Sadly, Conker was also the victim of its uncompromising crudeness and never became a sales sensation – but has gathered a cult following. However, it’s also slavishly linear which perhaps detracts slightly from its greatness… but not that much.

2. Killer Instinct Gold

Rareware’s fighting game, Killer Instinct, became one of the last big hit titles of the Super Nintendo. It’s sort of curious but also perhaps slightly understandable why the sequel on the Nintendo 64 didn’t receive quite as much attention. After all, this was a 2D fighting game on a 3D system.

However, KI Gold is in many ways vastly superior to the first KI. The characters are more varied and interesting, though they did drop my favourite character (Cinder) from the character roster. The controllers are smoother and the special moves are at least slightly easier to execute than in the first game. The voice-overs are definitely better and the music is just as kick ass as before.

If you’ve overlooked KI Gold then I highly recommend giving it a whirl. It’s one of my all time favourite fighting games.

1. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

Along with Killer Instinct, a game which launched Rare into superstardom was Donkey Kong Country. The first DKC was a fun if a challenging platformer, its sequel is a pure master-piece. A great variety of challenging levels and easily one of the best game soundtracks I’ve ever heard.

The pirate themed levels, the lava world, amusement park and finally K Rool’s castle, all are memorable locales and the challenging level design keeps you on your toes. At times it can even get a little frustrating, but the feeling of achievement is even greater once you do make it to the end. Plus, the boss fights are better and playing as Dixie is super fun.

Even though DKC3 failed to live up to the same quality I think all the DKC games on the SNES are worth playing, but DKC2 will forever stand out as my favourite from the series.