The Games of Summer: The Best of Rare

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For years – and we're talking since the NES era – the team at England-based Rare Ltd. have been producing stellar games, from hardcore efforts to more casual games, like the upcoming Kinect Sports Season 3 for the Xbox One. And sure, it's gotten a little soft as of late, but the company has a lineup that most game companies can't even come close to matching.

So, for this week's Games of Summer, we're highlighting some of Rare's greatest accomplishments, from fighting to pinball to evil squirrels. Yep, we've got you covered!

Pinbot/High Speed (NES)

Rare

Before Farsight Studios nailed down the art of digital pinball with The Pinball Arcade, Rare made do with two great arcade-to-home conversions of Williams' pinball classics. Pinbot and High Speed benefitted from great gameplay, some fun added features (like on-table obstacles and bonus rounds) and authentic graphics and sound that resembled the original games. It's just a shame it didn't get a crack at other tables, like F-14 Tomcat. Could you imagine…?

Battletoads (NES)

Who could dare forget the maddening – yet magical – action/adventure that managed to beat TMNT II: The Arcade Game at its own game? Featuring a variety of stages that took you all over the place (including rappelling, surfing, riding hoverbikes and beating up thugs), Battletoads also had the advantage of superb graphics that defined the NES era, along with challenging gameplay that kept you coming back for more. For good measure, the follow-up – which matched up the 'Toads with the Double Dragon brothers – wasn't too bad either.

Killer Instinct (Arcade/SNES)

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In a time when Killer Instinct is on the comeback trail for the launch of the Xbox One, we couldn't help but glance back at the game that started it all, a thoroughly entertaining fighter where your strategies lived and died by your knowledge of combos. You could execute all sorts of snazzy moves with the likes of Jago, Sabrewulf, Orchid and others, all while enjoying some good (for 90's standards) graphics and sound. The SNES conversion isn't as good as the arcade game, but it's suitable when it comes to classic home play.

Donkey Kong Country (SNES)

At a time when folks were wondering if they should make the leap from 16-bit consoles to "superior" consoles like the 3DO, Donkey Kong Country immediately convinced them otherwise. Featuring eye-popping visuals, classic platforming gameplay that lives on today, and hundreds upon hundreds of secrets, it's a defining moment for the company. The two sequels, Diddy's Kong Quest and Dixie Kong's Double Trouble, were pretty good too.

Goldeneye 007 (Nintendo 64)

Rare

We'd be idiots not to include this game in our tribute, because, well, it's one of the best moments in first-person shooting history. Goldeneye 007 brought the genre screaming into the console generation, with local multiplayer options, map variations and characters that kept you playing for hours on end. The single-player game was magnificent too, mirroring events as you'd remember them from the film. And hey, how about that laser watch? Yeah, we love it too. Be sure to check out the futuristic Perfect Dark as well – it's a fun ride.

Conker's Bad Fur Day (Nintendo 64/Xbox)

Here's a game that literally came out of nowhere and shook up the industry. Featuring an intoxicated squirrel in the lead role, Conker's Bad Fur Day defined revolutionary gameplay, while also walking a thin line when it came to hilarious vulgarity. No, seriously – one stage has you peeing on evil flames in order to douse them. The music and graphics are still great to this day (give the "Mighty Poo" song a listen), and the ending is one of the best in gaming. Microsoft should consider bringing this one back for Xbox One, even as a digital download.

See you next week for another Games of Summer! 

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Robert Workman
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