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20 of the Best Rare Games Ever Made

20 of the Best Rare Games Ever Made
Photo Credit: Rare

Founded in 1985, Rare has developed some of the best games ever made. Whether it’s the Super Nintendo Days of the Donkey Kong Country franchise or the Nintendo 64 platformers/FPS, Rare has a well-deserved pedigree. While they may have stumbled a bit since being acquired by Microsoft, they’re still releasing great games for the Xbox library. 

To celebrate, we’re going to go over 20 of the best Rare games ever made. Games are listed in no particular order and have been included based on a combination of personal opinion, critical acclaim, and consumer response.

As for the games that appear on the list, be sure to let us know if you think we missed something. We encourage discussion and debate in the comments.

Let’s jump into the best Rare games released to date.

Blast Corps is a beloved classic that is also one of the best Rare games ever

Blast Corps is a beloved classic that is also one of the best Rare games ever
Photo Credit: Rare

(Metascore: 90)

The devoted following for Blast Corps is well earned. A game unlike any other, it can be best summarized as a chance to blow a bunch of stuff up. 

Its combination of action, puzzle-solving, and total mayhem results in a wild and unique experience. Blast Corps feels like a refined experience of arcade classics like Missile Command. Only instead of defending bases from oncoming attacks, you are the oncoming attacks. 

The gameplay in Blast Corps feels like it inspired later classics such as the crash mode in the Burnout franchise. While the game is visually dated, the gameplay still holds up remarkably well in 2022. With its inclusion in Rare Replay, Blast Corps is definitely worth checking out to see for yourself why it’s one of the best Rare games ever made. 

Diddy Kong Racing

The 30 Best Nintendo 64 Games of All Time
Photo Credit: Nintendo

(Metascore: 88)

While Mario Kart is an unstoppable juggernaut of a franchise today, there was a time when it wasn’t the best kart racer on a Nintendo console. Diddy Kong Racing is an amazing game that deserves its place amongst the best Rare games ever made. 

The biggest standout in the game is the single-player adventure. Rare’s ability to weave in a narrative story, objectives, and stakes in a kart racer is beyond impressive. You play the adventure mode for more than just collecting trophies. It engages the player in ways that few racers can, culminating in a memorable final boss encounter against the evil Wizpig. 

Gameplay helped with adding variety to the various vehicles at your disposal. Being able to race in karts, boats, and planes made each race and course feel fresh beyond a difference in design. 

The cast of characters has more personality than any Mario Kart game and I will die on this hill.

Viva Pinata

Viva Pinata
Photo Credit: Microsoft

(Metascore: 84)

No matter what you think of Viva Pinata, there is no denying that it’s an absolutely beautiful game. Rare has always been at the top of their game in terms of visual prowess. Viva Pinata is one of the best Rare games when it comes to graphics. Its lush environments, colorful visuals, and detailed characters all spark joy.

As for the game itself, Viva Pinata is an enjoyable life simulator. It delivers a more intimate approach compared to something like The Sims. Allowing the player to play with a first-person camera is a great design choice. It allows you to take ownership of your garden and pinatas.

Viva Pinata is far from a perfect game, but it’s a great game nonetheless, one that deserves the sequel it received. Speaking of which…

Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise

Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise
Photo Credit: Microsoft


(Metascore: 82)

Trouble in Paradise is another great example of a successful sequel. The addition of co-operative play is an absolute home run, as is the new task of collecting and discovering different pinata species. 

While the core gameplay remains the same from Viva Pinata, the additional content and amount of things to do go a long way.

Whether you’re advancing your main objectives or just having from with minigames or side objectives, there’s a lot to love with Trouble in Paradise.

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest
Photo Credit: Nintendo

(Metascore: SNES NA, GBA 80)

The original Donkey Kong Country is a classic platformer. The sequel is somehow even better, resulting in one of the best Rare games to ever be developed.

Sometimes developers try to do too much with a sequel. Rare themselves are guilty of this with Banjo-Tooie. When it comes to Diddy’s Kong Quest, Rare knows what worked and what didn’t work. 

The result is a game that expands on its predecessor in the best possible ways. The graphics, platforming, music, and difficulty are all at the top of their class. 

As timeless as the Donkey Kong Country games are, one has to be the best. That honor goes to Diddy’s Kong Quest. 

Donkey Kong Country is not just one of the best Rare games, but also one of the most influential platformers of all time

Donkey Kong Country is not just one of the best Rare games, but also one of the most influential platformers ever
Photo Credit: Nintendo

(Metascore: SNES NA, GBA 78)

While the sequel may be a superior game, the original is the more well-known and beloved classic. 

Nintendo consoles already had a strong line-up of platformers thanks to the Super Mario franchise. Their biggest competitor, SEGA, took a different approach with platforming in Sonic the Hedgehog, focusing more on style and speed. 

Unlike the other two franchises mentioned, Donkey Kong Country focuses on challenging level design with its platforming. Its iconic soundtrack and gorgeous levels set the stage for precise, difficult, and rewarding gameplay. Whether it’s exploring the jungle, swinging from vine to vine, or traversing in a mine cart, Donkey Kong Country delivers. 

Its best feature is that despite the challenge, nothing seems too punishing or frustrating. Rare managed to find the right balance of accessibility and difficulty, tapping into that Battletoads magic without making us want to snap our controller in half.  

Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble

Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble
Photo Credit: Nintendo

(Metascore: SNES NA, GBA 77)

More Donkey Kong Country is never a bad thing. Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble is the “worst” out of the SNES trilogy, but it’s still one of the best Rare games I’ve played.

The game’s biggest issue is the soundtrack. Donkey Kong Country is known for its iconic and memorable music, yet Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble’s score deviates from its predecessors. Furthermore, it suffers from being the series’ third entry which led to a lack of new ideas and innovation.

Honestly, the fact that we’re bringing up the game’s music and lack of innovation is a bit nitpicky. This is the same Donkey Kong Country you know and love. Even if it pales in comparison to others in the franchise, it’s still a beloved classic. 

Donkey Kong 64

The 30 Best Nintendo 64 Games of All Time
Photo Credit: Nintendo

(Metascore: 90)

Donkey Kong 64 is a huge game. Like, imagine Mario 64, but way, way bigger. While that’s not always a good thing, it’s still a welcome breath of fresh air. Even if the game is a mish-mash of Mario 64 and Donkey Kong Country, it’s still an absolute classic. 

Time hasn’t necessarily been kind to the platformer, however. Most of the time spent in the game involves backtracking with required characters to obtain appropriate collectibles. The idea works on paper to ensure you’re playing the proper character for an objective, but it often brings pacing to a screeching halt. The ability to swap characters on the fly would go a long way. 

Despite this issue, Donkey Kong 64 is still worth a playthrough, even today. It brings the Donkey Kong franchise to the 3D platforming genre in a successful way, even if the series is still better suited as a 2D platformer. 

Battletoads

Battletoads
Photo Credit: Rare

(Metascore: NA)

Released for the NES in 1991, Battletoads is best known for its extreme difficulty. That’s well warranted, but the side-scrolling beat ‘em up is more than just a punishing game. 

More than one of the best Rare games ever made, Battletoads is also one of the best looking. It’s hard to remember that this is an NES game, not a Super Nintendo title. The game’s style, presentation, and graphics are all at the top of their class. 

Aside from critiques regarding the platforming sections of the game, the combat truly shines. The simple yet addictive and deep nature helps to carry the gameplay. You’re going to be defeated, but you’re still determined to press onward. 

Conker’s Bad Fur Day was a bold move that resulted in one of the best Rare games

The 30 Best Nintendo 64 Games of All Time
Photo Credit: Nintendo

(Metascore: 92)

Many people think that Rare’s swan song for the Nintendo 64 was Perfect Dark. In reality, it was Conker’s Bad Fur Day, a 2001 platformer starring the adorable squirrel from Diddy Kong Racing. 

Bad Fur Day takes the lessons from Donkey Kong 64 and Banjo-Tooie to heart. Its large-scale world is still ripe for adventure, but the environments feel tighter and more intimate. The level design is a true return to form.

Yep. That’s all there is to Bad Fur Day. 

Nothing else to report here.

Oh, wait, yeah, the game is funny as heck too.

Conker: Live & Reloaded

Conker: Live & Reloaded
Photo Credit: Microsoft

(Metascore: 78)

Part of the charm with the original Conker’s Bad Fur day was its cartoony aesthetic. Characters looked like they were plucked straight out of your kid’s favorite Saturday Morning Cartoon and there they were getting drunk on the regular. 

Live & Reloaded is a gorgeous game, no doubt, but some of the charms are lost with its transition to more realistic graphics. Kudos to Rare, though, for including tongue-in-cheek dialogue referencing changes they made compared to the original. 

The online component of the game as a multiplayer shooter is enjoyable for a brief respite. 

Despite all this, Conker is still a great game. Both versions earned their spot on our list. 

Star Fox Adventures

Star Fox Adventures isn’t one of the typical Star Fox games, but it’s still incredibly fun
Photo Credit: Nintendo

(Metascore: 82)

Despite starring Star Fox and friends, Star Fox Adventures shares more in common with some of the best Rare games available. While not a formal collect-a–thon platformer, Star Fox Adventures is an action-adventure that carries the hallmark of Rare developed games. 

Adventures wasn’t always a Star Fox game (and it shows, given the fact that very little of it features aerial combat), but Rare still brings in the franchise’s heart and charm. There’s enjoyable banter and dialogue with Fox and friends. Fox McCloud is a great protagonist as well and I wish we saw more of these Adventures games. They can’t be worse than the recent Star Fox entries, right? 

Sea of Thieves shows that one of the best Rare games can recover from a rocky launch

Sea of Thieves shows that one of the best Rare games can recover from a rocky launch
Photo Credit: Microsoft

(Metascore: 69)

When Sea of Thieves launched, the initial reaction was a bit mixed and ho-hum. Since then, Rare has made the game into one of their best. 

Thanks to a steady stream of post-release content, Sea of Thieves has evolved. What launched as an open sandbox game with little to no objectives has become a wonderland of pirate adventure. There is an absurd amount of things to do, discoveries to explore, and seas to sail. 

The best thing Rare did for Sea of Thieves was to give the game structure and purpose. Simply exploring for the sake of being a virtual pirate wasn’t engaging enough on its own. Instead of doubling down, Rare addressed the problem head-on. Thanks to impressive post-launch support revitalizing the game, it’s now reached 30 million players as it prepares for its seventh season of content.

Kameo: Elements of Power

Kameo: Elements of Power
Photo Credit: Microsoft

(Metascore: 79)

Kameo is the best-case scenario for a console launch title. That may be a backhanded compliment, but I still enjoyed my time with the Xbox 360 game when the console was first released. 

Part of its downfall is the strength of prior Rare titles. When compared to the genre at the time, Kameo delivers a solid mix of platforming and action-adventure goodness. When looking at some of the best Rare games of all time, Kameo stumbles a bit. Still, it’s worth spending the weekend with. 

The best part of Kameo is the graphics; this is an absolutely gorgeous, bright, and colorful game. Rare has always thrived when it comes to their artistic design and Kameo is no exception. It’s a wonderful, welcoming aesthetic that is incredibly inviting to the player. 

I just wish the gameplay could compete with the rest of Rare’s library. 

Rare Replay

Rare Replay
Photo Credit: Microsoft

(Metascore: 84)

Technically, Rare Replay is this list in video game form. Released for the Xbox One in 2015, the game features a vast collection of some of the best Rare games from their library. It would be silly to not include it on the list, even if it’s a retread of several titles we already talked about.

Rare Replay allowed players not just a chance to re-discover the games they know and love, but also to explore the lesser-known side of Rare’s history. Jetpac, Blast Corps, R.C. Pro-AM, and more all get some much-deserved love. 

The most impressive feature of Rare Replay is the bonus content. Being able to explore developer stories and behind-the-scenes content is an absolute treat. While it’s disappointing (albeit understandable) with the lack of some omissions, the Nintendo 64 emulation more than makes up for the absence of GoldenEye and Donkey Kong.

Goldeneye 007

Goldeneye 007 may not have aged well, but its still one of the best FPS games ever made
Photo Credit: Rare

(Metascore: 96)

Against all odds, Goldeneye 007 works wonders as one of the premier console first-person shooters of all time. 

Everyone has fond memories of the game’s multiplayer, but the single-player campaign is just as strong. Most movie-related games either try too hard to copy the plot directly or become something completely different. GoldenEye knows when to be a loyal adaptation and when to do its own thing. 

The result is an action-packed FPS that’s backed by one of the best James Bond movies ever made. The 

Perfect Dark

To some, Perfect Dark is even better than Goldeneye 007
Photo Credit: Rare

(Metascore: 97)

Improving on GoldenEye 007 is a tall tale. Perfect Dark does just that. 

The tale of Joana Dark shows that Rare has the chomps to tackle original content. Building upon the gameplay foundation of GoldenEye, Perfect Dark takes more of a noir/sci-fi approach for its setting. This results in an enjoyable, futuristic setting where the only limit of technology is your imagination.

Its biggest accomplishment may be the fact that it even exists on the Nintendo 64. The amount of content and features, the impressive graphics, and the brilliance of enemy AI result in a game and technology that’s ahead of its time. It’s a shame the franchise has floundered since its debut over 20 years ago. Here’s to hoping Joana Dark returns to form again soon. 

Despite Conker’s appearance, this is not a game for anyone below the age of 18. Rare dove in hard with the mature content and adult humor. It was a huge gamble, especially for a Nintendo console, but it works wonders. Conker’s incredibly raunchy lifestyle, juxtaposed with the cartoony characters and censored language, is a match made in heaven.

Nevermind just being one of the best Rare games, Banjo-Kazooie is one of the greatest games ever made

The 30 Best Nintendo 64 Games of All Time
Photo Credit: Nintendo

(Metascore: 92)

Banjo-Kazooie is a masterpiece. There’s no other way to explain it. Not only is it the best Rare game ever made, but also one of the greatest games of all time. 

Everything about Banjo-Kazooie works together in perfect harmony. The world and environment are whimsical, matching the game’s score perfectly. Characters are filled with so much personality and humor that it puts other games to shame. 

Level design is perfect, too. Worl’s aren’t too big, nor are they good small. Their expansive yet intimate size allows players to not lose focus of the current task at hand. 

Banjo-Kazooie is one of my favorite games of all time. Playing it is just fun and an absolute delight. Please, Rare, bring back the bear and bird. 

Banjo-Tooie

The 30 Best Nintendo 64 Games of All Time
Photo Credit: Nintendo

(Metascore: 90)

Having to follow Banjo-Kazooie was always going to be a tall task. While Banjo-Tooie is still a delightful platformer, it falls under the weight of its ambition.

Released for the Nintendo 64 in 2000, notably after Donkey Kong 64, Banjo-Tooie addresses DK64’s biggest issue: the backtracking. While its levels and worlds are still overly large for my tastes, exploration, and platforming feel more streamlined. 

The most impressive feature of Banjo-Tooie is the game’s graphics. Despite the occasional frame rate issues, this is one of the best-looking N64 games ever released on the console. The Banjo-Kazooie was already a great-looking game but Tooie updates the stakes even more. Character personality is still present as well. 

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts
Photo Credit: Microsoft

(Metascore: 79)

Nuts and Bolts may be the most controversial entry in our list of best Rare games. 

The third title in the Banjo-Kazooie franchise, many were disappointed it wasn’t another traditional platformer. Still, there’s a lot to like with the vehicle-building game. 

You can even make the argument that Nuts and Bolts is ahead of its time. The building genre of gaming hadn’t quite taken off yet, and Rare’s decision to focus on making vehicle customization and building fun paid off in spades. Attaching the Banjo-Kazooie characters helped market a bold title to a broader audience, even if it confused people as to what the game was about. 

Nuts and Bolts has a cult following that’s well deserved. It’s not the game you expect, but one that’s still an enjoyable experience.

Those are the best rare games developed so far. Did we miss any of your favorites? Drop us a comment with your top selections.

Written by Jake Valentine

I am the Editor-In-Chief of BossLevelGamer. I'm also a lover of video games, food, and beer.

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