Road to Stampers Forever: Day 1
Stampers Forever is the name given to an Achievement in the Rare Replay Collection that requires the collection of 330 stamps across the 30 games in the collection. Stamps are obtained by completing milestones throughout the completion of each game, and beating playlists and snapshots comprised of set-pieces from each game.
It’s widely regarded as the most difficult achievement to obtain in Xbox history, with TrueAchievements tracking showing that of a sample of 70,000 people who started the game, only 95 have completed it. That’s 0.14%. It’s the ultimate test of endurance, skill and patience. Three things I lack.
So, as a child raised on Rareware’s SNES and N64 classics, but with no experience of their earlier games, I’ve decided to give it a bash and document my experience in doing so. I’m sure it’ll be a pleasant and entirely non-frustrating experience.
Here’s how my first day went:
I started out by booting up my favourite game in the collection of those that I’ve played, Banjo Kazooie. Having not played it for over 10 years, I was pleasantly surprised by how well it holds up – my enjoyment a knitted together amalgamation of nostalgia and genuine quality. As I’ll need every achievement for BK, I played through the first three worlds to completion, collection every Jiggy, Note, Jinjo and honeycomb, and really was surprised at how non-repetitive and intuitive everything still felt.
The puzzles are logical but not too easy or obvious, the writing and characters are still charming, and some of the hidden collectibles like Jinjos and honeycomb pieces are satisfying to seek out. I also like how you stay in the world when you collect a Jiggy, which lets you stay there until you’ve grabbed all of them, unlike Mairo 64 which quits the world after every star. It’s testament to the design of the worlds that they don’t change depending on which Jiggy you’re going for, but still remain fresh and interesting. Treasure Trove Cove in particular is still such a delight to explore.
The only thing annoying me so far is the fact you have to traverse back to the starter point to quit the level – why no ‘Exit Level’ option in the menu? A tad annoying but not a game-breaker by any means.
After completing three Banjo worlds I thought it would be good to delve into the unkown and sample the games I wasn’t familiar with, namely those from the NES and older. And boy what an eye-opener it was.
Each of the older games has five ‘snapshots’ I need to complete, so this seemed like the perfect quick-fire way to sample them and gain some progress.
Here are my first impressions of each of them:
Jetpac: When I started this I realised I was familiar with the mechanics from the game’s cameo in Donkey Kong 64. I remembered the controls being a little tighter, but it was pretty fun, intuitive and challenging flying and gathering fuel/parts. Managed to get 4 of the 5 stamps. Good fun.
Lunar Jetman: Wow, what the hell happened here? The controls for the first stamp when you’re in the buggy are horrendous. Thankfully when you leave the buggy you’re back to the fun jetting around with the guy, but this game still feels brutal. Sometimes super-fast meteors come cascading down on you without warning, resulting in insta-death. The third stamp, where you have to destroy the base, there’s a teleportation device in front of you, but nothing informs you that’s what it does. I kept going passed it and getting my ass handed to me until I Googled how the hell to do the stage, and I just had to activate the teleport. I got three stamps, and am stuck on one where you have to get 10,000 points. It feels impossible.
Atic Attack: Now this is a cool game that feels ahead of its time. Random rooms with scary stuff in them which you shoot axes(?) at. Good fun but I’m stuck on one where you have to visit 16 rooms, but can only carry 3 of 4 keys. There are enemies flying everywhere and your health also seems to deplete regardless of whether you hit them or not.
Sabre Wolf 1: I didn’t spend long here but who the fuck programmed this hit detection? Christ it’s difficult. I managed one stamp then moved on.
Underwurlde: How did anyone ever manage to handle these jumping mechanics? One stamp and moved the hell on. Painful.
Knight Lore: Really weird and slow to control, but clever how they made a semi-3D world with the sprites. Randomly turned into a werewolf when I entered one room. Wasn’t great but not dreading going back.
Gunfright: The first stamp was just a point and click Duck-Hunt shooter, so that’s all I thought the game was. Then on the second stamp I found myself mowing down villagers on my horse in a coyboy town. Frustrating controls but not the worst.
Slalom: This is more like it. Really fun skiing, although it took me ages to work out you need to hold ‘down’ when doing a jump to get ‘skill points’. Except you can only do it when auto-jumping over rocks (which I was initially trying to avoid, because they’re rocks), and you can’t do it when you jump using the jump button, which feels weird. Managed 3 stamps.
Pro AM: This one feels really tight, and must be what Micro Machines was inspired by/ripped off. It’s a neat and challenging little racer, I managed three stamps but the fourth is really hard. Dreading it a bit.
Cobra Triangle: A very fast and challenging speedboat-shoot-em-up-racer? Quite cool but difficult. Lucked out on the first stamp after doing a crazy stunt jump and landing it, netting me the points. My lack of skill feels ominous.
Snake Rattle N Roll: This was horrible. I didn’t get one stamp and do not want to go back.
Digger T Rock: I couldn’t get past the first falling rock.
Battletoads: I remember playing the SNES remaster, and it’s true what they say: this game is hard. Got the first stamp then was hit with the racing one, which feels impossible.
Solar Jetman: A tight if a bit tedious floaty space game that reminds me of the Earthworm Jim levels underwater in the pods. Tricky but manageable. Managed 1 stamp before getting bored.
RC Pro Am II: Did one drag race which was Track-n-field style button mashing. Fine but think the actual racing might come next.
Battletoads Arcade: I was surprised how detailed and cool this was, the fighting is fun but feels a bit randomised. Not dreading it as much as some of the others.
All in all it was a bit of a mixed bag impressions-wise and definitely a baptism of fire. I nabbed 25 stamps and a fair few achievements, and despite some frustration and genuine horror at some of the older games, I’m finding myself looking forward to jumping back in.
On to Day 2!