5 Favorites for the Rare 35th Anniversary

For any kid like me that grew up(?) playing video games in the 90’s and early 2000’s, one of the most beloved and prolific studios was Rare. The British studio was responsible for creating classics like Donkey Kong Country, Battletoads, GoldenEye, and Banjo-Kazooie. There was such a sense of humor and creativity in the games created by Rare, along with a respected level of quality that easily rivaled that of developers like Capcom or Konami during the early and mid-90’s. Rare is now celebrating its 35th anniversary in the gaming industry, so, for today’s post, I’ve created a list of my favorite games developed during the studio’s golden years. To commemorate this occasion Rare has also released a list of tracks taken from its past titles across streaming services online titled – Rare All-Stars 35th Anniversary Collection, which served as my background music while writing this…

Donkey Kong Country

Donkey Kong Country wasn’t the first Rare game I ever played, that would go to R.C. Pro-Am and Battletoads on the NES, but DKC is a game that holds a special place in gaming history(and myself). Rare convinced Nintendo to allow them the opportunity to create a new game from a classic game character that was considered long past his prime, only to create an all-time classic adventure-platformer and bring the banana-hoarding primate to relevance once again. I will concede that Donkey Kong Country 2 is the best of the series, but my personal favorite will always be the original.

Perfect Dark

Though both GoldenEye and Perfect Dark are great games and examples of how Rare changed perceptions of FPS games on console, I’m choosing Perfect Dark here. In contrast to my preference of Donkey Kong Country games, my choice of GoldenEye or Perfect Dark would be the latter, though not by any great margin. I always felt that Perfect Dark took everything that made GoldenEye a breakthrough (console)FPS game and refined it, along with creating unique, memorable world, weapons and protagonist in Joanna Dark. I’ve written in the past about some of the different things that I loved(and still love) about Perfect Dark so I will keep this relatively brief.

Jet Force Gemini

One of my personal favorite Rare games, Jet Force Gemini was released during their golden days on the N64. The premise of Jet Force Gemini is pretty simple: Juno, Vela, and their dog-companion, Lupus are dispatched to restore order after insectoid overlord Mizar has taken over the planet Goldwood and enslaved the fuzzy alien population. The non-linear worlds in the game were large and colorful, they were also crawling with insect enemies to be splattered. The enemy A.I. in the game was pretty challenging, making for some intense battles which required a healthy dose of the game’s many interesting weapons. Whenever the question is asked about which game you would pick for a remake or remaster, Jet Force Gemini is one of my first picks. There’s also the code for rainbow blood, which resulted in plenty of added color after fighting an army of bugs…

Diddy Kong Racing

While multiplayer kart-racing games begin and end with Mario Kart, Rare took Diddy Kong, the number-two banana in DKC and inserted him into an exciting and colorful kart-racer along with a cast of Rare-verse characters that we would know and love for generations like Banjo and Conker. The success of Diddy Kong Racing is also quite impressive considering it came out the same year as Mario Kart 64. One of the most memorable parts of Diddy Kong Racing(outside of its difficulty) was the fact you had the option of choosing between standard go-kart, plane, and hoverboat to use in the various races before ultimately facing off against the evil WizPig. I’m not going to go without also mentioning my two favorite characters to use in the game that have sadly faded into obscurity – Tiptup the Turtle and Timber the Tiger.


Whether asking my favorite Rare game or simply my favorite Nintendo 64 game, Banjo-Kazooie is usually my answer. The game contains everything that made Rare so special – instantly memorable characters and worlds filled with humor and personality, along with an iconic soundtrack and sound effects. I have mentioned Banjo-Kazooie here on WordPress….a time or two and also just finished up a playthrough of the HD remaster on Twitch. I had a great time and was very pleased with how incredibly well the game has held up, especially impressive considering other games from the first generation of 3D games. The final level of Banjo-Kazooie is even turned into a boardgame/quiz show, how awesome is that? I absolutely love this game.

Other honorable mentions would include:

  • R.C. Pro AM
  • Killer Instinct
  • Conker’s Bad Fur Day
  • Battletoads/Double Dragon
  • Donkey Kong 64
  • GoldenEye
  • Viva Piñata
  • Star Fox Adventures(yes, I liked it)

There’s plenty more that I’ve either forgotten or haven’t even played yet, like Grabbed by the Ghoulies or Sea of Thieves. I will also take this opportunity to promote the impressive retrospective/collection of games are included(minus any Donkey Kong games) in the Rare Replay bundle on Xbox One, especially for those subscribed to Game Pass. What are your favorites from Rare? Let me know!

Thanks for reading!

Gaming Vibes Playlist #2

In a surprising turn of events, I spent nearly as much time this weekend watching others play video games on Twitch as I did myself. I made the ever-elusive social appearance during Later Level’s Great Blog Crawl 2020 on Saturday and had a great time hanging out with others from around our WordPress gaming community. I also spent a fair amount of time watching other fellow blogger/streamers over the weekend play a variety of games. In a NOT-SO-surprising turn of events, I didn’t have a whole lot lined up for blog posts this weekend. It’s been a few months since the last blog post with a random list of gaming(or related) music so, for today’s blog post I have created yet another list of music I’ve been listening to over the past weekend.

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla – Out of the North

A new EP titled Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – Out of the North was released the end of last week. Fans of the long-running franchise were excited to see Sarah Schachner – composer of the Assassin’s Creed: Origins soundtrack and the return of Jesper Kyd – composer of the first four games in the AC series. The EP begins with the title track – Out of the North, which starts off very calmly before building to a conclusion. I’m really loving the instrumentation of the songs and the slow, thundering drums as you can almost see Viking longboats rowing across the icy North Atlantic.

Ghost of Tsushima – Jin Sakai

I really like the way the track slowly begins with a flute and stringed instruments(Koto and Biwa) as the drums and bass strings lock into the same rhythm underneath as you can envision samurai warrior Jin Sakai traveling across the fields of pampas grass and bamboo forests of Tsushima. Another selection that stays relatively mid-tempo yet still feels wholly dramatic.

Sonic 2 – Aquatic Ruin Zone

As I’ve been messsing around with doing some streaming on Twitch here and there, I ordered an adapter to converting the signal from composite inputs to an HDMI source to use with the capture card I bought a while back. As part of my experimental process of ironing out some input lag and adjusting audio levels, I popped a copy of Sonic 2 into my old Sega Genesis, still one of my all-time favorites. I love the entire iconic soundtrack, but the level soundtrack that remained in my head throughout the rest of the day was the music from level 3 – Aquatic Ruins.

Banjo-Kazooie – Click Clock Wood

Another game that I started a playthrough over the weekend is Banjo-Kazooie, a game I’ve mentioned….numerous times. I love Grant Kirkhope’s quirky instrumentation in using percussion instruments like marimbas and xylophones. Of course, there’s banjos and even the occasional tuba. One of the later levels in the game, Click Clock Wood is set in a forest and is divided between four separate seasons with the soundtrack reflecting the change in respective seasons. I had actually forgotten about the accompanying soundtrack in Click Clock Wood until I was playing the game and mentioned some of my favorite level soundtracks in the game before seeking it out with warm, fuzzy feelings of nostalgia instantly returning.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask – Astral Observatory(Piano cover)

Another rabbit hole I descended into over the weekend was listening to music from different Zelda games, somewhere along the line I started not only listening to the OSTs, but also came across a number of remixes on YouTube. Here is a calming piano mix of the Astral Observatory theme from Majora’s Mask, one of my favorite pieces of music from any video game. A perfect track for nighttime stargazing.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Lost Woods(Dubstep mix)

I’d be lying if I said that I listened to much of anything with the word ‘Dubstep’ attached to it, but this came up while listening to some different Zelda remixes, and….it’s honestly quite awesome and was pleasantly surprised at how much I like it(blaming you, Solarayo).

That’s all for now, what have you been listening to over the weekend while gaming or just hanging out at home? Let me know and thanks for reading!