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Make it a (Virtual) Reality: Rare Replay

Rare celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. From the likes of Battletoads to Perfect Dark this beloved developer has created some of the defining entries in a wide range of videogame genres. Parent company Microsoft is recognising this milestone in style, releasing Rare Replay, a collection that reaches beyond those 30 years to when the studio went by the name of Ultimate Play the Game and spanning all the way up to recent releases such as Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. Set for launch on Xbox One, the set presents a unique opportunity to not only play some classic videogames, but cherry-pick which titles we’d love to see in VR.

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Rare’s first-person efforts are obviously what spring to mind first. The company is perhaps most famously known for its bar-setting shooter, Goldeneye 007, though this isn’t actually included in the set. The multiplayer component of the 1997 title is still fondly remembered, though, and lives on the in the form of 2000’s Perfect Dark. Both of these classic experiences could make for some great, if slightly hectic, social VR. Players would be darting around the maze-like levels, twisting their heads left and right for a sign of the enemy. At the very least using VR head-mounted displays (HMDs) would eliminate screen cheating.

Looking back towards the teams earlier days, some of Rare’s 2D efforts could make for interesting VR conversions. Battletoads, for example, hit the arcade in the early 90’s, and to be able to relive the title on a virtual cabinet, possibly with some VR-exclusive features such as stereoscopic 3D support, would serve for an excellent nostalgia trip. The same goes for Killer Instinct and other 2D efforts from the company.

The developer is also behind some truly fascinating worlds that would be incredible to explore in VR. Walking through the sunny meadows of the Viva Piñata to meet its colourful cast of critters up close would be delightful and the links that you could establish throughout the course of the life-sim would be unforgettable. VR can give us virtual cats and dogs but wouldn’t it be far more exciting to grow a relationship with something that doesn’t exist on our planet?

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Perhaps the Rare franchise we’d most like to see in VR, however, is Banjo-Kazooie. Developers such as Playful Corp. are doing important work with the tech, proving third-person platformers such as Lucky’s Tale are a great introduction to the likes of the Oculus Rift. Seeing everyone’s favourite bear and bird combo come to life in VR as they trek across gorgeous environments would be a wonderful thrill and the perfect use of that Xbox One controller set to arrive with the Oculus Rift itself.

Rare has a long history that’s worth celebrating. It’s also got a promising future; first-person pirate title Sea of Thieves could be very promising if it were to come to VR. Microsoft’s partnership with Oculus VR means that we’ll be able to play all of these titles within a virtual theatre with the Oculus Rift but, perhaps one day, Rare will work natively in VR.