Where’s Rare?

Rare, soon as you hear this name it’s more than likely going to bring a smile to your face, maybe it’s just remembering an old four-play game on Goldeneye, a certain gun in Perfect dark or even just the pleasure you get from seeing the Rare logo when you boot up a game.

So where did the creator of all these memorable gaming moments come from? England, that’s were. In 1983 going by the name “Ultimate: Play The Game” they released Jetpac. Jetpac was released on the Sinclair Spectrum and was an instant legend, people could not stop going on about the game, this was a sure sign that Rare was going to be around for a long time to come. After Jetpac, Rare released 3 other games in that year all on the Spectrum, these included Atic Atac, Pssst and Tranz Am, all of which got praised by the press but not touching the love of Jetpac.

So as time goes by as we find ourselves in the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) Era, with Rare still going strong releasing an average of 5 games per year, showing that Rare were not taking the computer gaming industry lying down.

So, 10 years since the birth of what has grown to be one of the biggest and best game developers around we reach the SNES (Super Nintendo entertainment System) years, now this is where Rare start to shine with a gleaming light. A year into the console’s life and we get a taste of Donkey Kong Country, now its not often you hear of a game getting the title “Greatest game ever” but Donkey Kong Country did, I don’t think there is a word for how big this game was. Everywhere you go, Donkey Kong this and Donkey Kong that, this comes to no surprise that it was the biggest selling game of 1994 almost helping Nintendo catch up to its main rival the Genesis.

So we had the Donkey Kong Country phase in 1994, now the dawn of a new year 1995, so what do we expect to see from Rare this year? Fans and Press around the world have the highest hopes for Rare to deliver the gaming experiences they only dreamed of, so what happens? This is Rare we’re talking about here, they deliver three more killer apps on the SNES and Nintendo’s new handheld system the Game Boy. These games included Donkey Kong Land on the Game boy, Killer Instinct and the sequel the world had been waiting for…Donkey Kong Country 2. All three of these games were classics, want to play Donkey Kong on the move? Rare sorted that out with Donkey Kong Land. Fancy a bit of beat-em-up action? Rare sorted that out with Killer instinct. And needless to say a game of no disappointment, Donkey Kong Country 2.

So in 1995 Rare had a reputation like Gold, they decided to play it safe and they released only sequels this year Donkey Kong Land 2 on the Game boy and Donkey Kong Country 3 on the Super Nintendo. So Rare had started out by creating Jetpac, and gone on to create some of the most memorable series in gaming history; but fans still wanted more, something a bit more than Donkey Kong.

Later on that year something big happened, something huge. The birth of the most powerful games console ever created. The Nintendo 64 hit shelves across the world in late 1996, striking peoples eye with amazing 64bit graphics, the birth of the analogue stick and a killer launch including Super Mario 64 which is, to this day, still considered the best platform game of all time, the Nintendo 64 and a very promising future lying ahead of it.

So with the launch of the N64, Rare released the next game in the series of Killer Instinct, but this time is was in full 3D, the game came to no disappointment as this is what fans could only have dreamed of.

So let’s take a minute and look back. They started out in 1983, have been going about 12 years and have the one of the biggest names in the computer games industry. So where does this leave them? In a very, very good position that’s where, but the same could not have been said of Nintendo. Along with the rival of the Sega Saturn the Nintendo 64 had a new competitor. The Sony Playstation, the console was state of the art, using CDs instead of outdated cartridges, Nintendo’s sales were dropping slowly. They needed something, something that would take the world by storm something like…Bond, James Bond. 1997 was the year of James Bond 007: Goldeneye, Donkey Kong, what’s that? People replied as they were engulfed in what was easily one of the most action packed games ever. The game featured a 4-player multiplayer mode, and a huge and intense single player story, high end graphics and the sheer class of what is only James Bond.

So Rare produced another ground breaking game, they seem to be getting in a habit of this, but that doesn’t bother anyone. So the next few years see games such as: Banjo Kazooie, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, etc. All these games have been great, scoring high with the press but none have been seen to be as ground breaking as some of Rare’s earlier titles.

So we move on a few years this time to the year 2000, the dawn of a new millennium so Rare thought it was a time to treat us, out comes Perfect Dark. Now this game is as ground breaking as an earthquake, boasting everything that was good about Goldeneye but adding to it, the game was set in the future to give a totally different feel compared to Goldeneye, it also had improved visuals and sound. The game scored so high with gamers across the world you would not believe, this game helped Nintendo to rival Sony in the console wars that little bit more.

So we have been through 17 years of gaming so far, talking about most of Rare’s killer games, to put it simply Rare could have not done much more for the computer gaming market than they already had done, they were considered Gods. Now we move to another generation.

We enter a new generation of computer entertainment, Sega died out and rumours of Microsoft entering the game are everywhere. So Rare had a game planned for the N64 named Dinosaur planet, but they canned it and planned to realise it on the Gamecube with a new name: Starfox Adventures.

Rare had been very quiet for a while with rumours of Microsoft buying them out. Well this turned out to be true. In 2002 Microsoft announced they bought Rare out for a staggering $375 million, this brought shock to the computer gaming industry and caused distress about who owns what characters etc.

So as time went by and things settled down, Rare realised there one and only game they had in development for the Gamecube which was Starfox Adventures, the game came to a bit of a disappointment, not surprising with what Rare had been through over late times.

Oh look at the date, its 2003 and Rare release Grabbed by the Ghoulies, the game sadly was just your average adventure game and nothing special, many people blamed this on Rare just rushing out a title to shut people up while they work on the killer apps, Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero. So with the Xbox being out for some time and having one of the best first person shooters ever (Halo) Rare still show no signs of interest.

We move on to 2005 and Rare release a remake of Conker’s Bad Fur Day named Conker Live & Reloaded. The game came to a much better response than Grabbed by the Ghoulies but still didn’t quite have the classic Rare feeling about it…

Later on that Year On MTV in America, Microsoft showed off their new next-gen console, the Xbox360 and also announced that on the launch line up will be Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero, this came as a great relief to fans that thought they would never see these games. The hype built up very quickly, small amounts of screen shots and art work were released, people started to get excited.

So we fast forward a few months to the 22nd November 2005, the launch of the Xbox360 in the United States, the two games that had been in development for over 5 years were out on the shelves of game stores for the public to buy, and was it worth wait?

Yes and No, the games scored highly with the press and most gamers but there were a fair few people who were not impressed.

“Kameo’s too short”
“Perfect Dark is too slow”
“There are only six multiplayer maps in Perfect Dark”

These were some of the comments gamers around the world were making by Christmas 2005, many people believe that the somewhat “shallowness” of these games is because they were rushed on the final development kits to get the games ready for launch, therefore they could not make the games exactly how they wanted. Some people blame it on a few members leaving to create Free Radical.

Have Rare lost their glory?

Only time will tell…