Xbox and Nintendo are finally allowing more Rare games on Switch, but 3 obvious N64 classics are still missing

Donkey Kong 64
(Image credit: Rare)

Obsidian wasn't the only first-party Xbox studio with news at today's Nintendo Partner Direct, as a selection of five Rare classics are coming to Switch - but all fans want to talk about are the three N64 classics that are still missing from the lineup.

As of today, the NES games RC Pro-Am and Snake Rattle 'n' Roll, the SNES games Killer Instinct and Battletoads in Battlemaniacs, and the N64 game Blast Corps are all available as part of the Nintendo Switch Online classics library.  Some of those games genuinely are classics, too - RC Pro-Am is a beloved part of the NES library, and while the controls are a bit fiddly these days I still think Blast Corps is an all-timer.

But if you check out the comments on that YouTube trailer or hit up Twitter, you're mostly going to find people not so much excited by this lineup as they are disappointed that the names don't include some especially notable N64 Rare games. Specifically, everyone's looking for Donkey Kong 64, Diddy Kong Racing, and Banjo-Tooie. 

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Rare was purchased by Microsoft in 2002, but prior to that the studio existed as a sort of 'second-party' developer for Nintendo. Rare was technically independent, but its games were largely published and marketed by Nintendo itself. Many of Rare's games are synonymous with Nintendo's classic platforms, but they haven't been as thoroughly re-released as Nintendo's own games. Whether you can blame negotiations between Xbox and Nintendo for that is a matter of pure speculation, but whatever the case, seeing a Rare game come back on a Nintendo platform is still a, er, rare thing these days.

With all that in mind, Nintendo Switch Online does have a few Rare titles. That includes the Donkey Kong Country trilogy - so if we've got DK games on Switch, why not Donkey Kong 64 and Diddy Kong Racing? There's also Banjo-Kazooie - so why haven't we gotten its sequel? Heck, there's even GoldenEye - if the three-way dance between Nintendo, Microsoft, and the James Bond rightsholders can get worked out, what's stopping any other game?

I may be the one person in the world who would take Blast Corps over any of the other N64 games that fans are demanding, but there's no denying the fact that Diddy Kong Racing, DK64, and Banjo-Tooie are far more thoroughly tied to Nintendo history and nostalgia than any of the games that are hitting NSO today. Nintendo's classic re-release schedule remains an indecipherable place.

After 18 years, Nintendo's JRPG cult classic Mother 3 is back – on Switch too, but only in Japan.

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.