They were like The Beatles of Video Games. They could take on seemingly any genre of gamingRare
and set the bar while they were at it.
Ltd., is a Twycross-based (though they started in Ashby-de-la-Zouch) video game
development company founded by Chris and Tim Stamper in 1982
. They're famous for their pioneering of sophisticated technology to make video games, the sheer amount of crap they get past the radar, the idiosyncratic little mysteries they weave into their games that leave gamers pondering for decades,
and their media-shy nature.
They've created some games for the ZX Spectrum
, for which they attained most of their early fame (as "Ultimate Play the Game"), and then for Nintendo
, for which they earned their second wave of fame, but have since moved on to working under Microsoft.
In The Nineties
, Rare enjoyed an extraordinary popularity after forging a partnership with Nintendo, during which they made the acclaimed Donkey Kong Country
trilogy and a number of other hit releases such as GoldenEye
, lauded as masterpieces in their time. Near the Turn of the Millennium
, however, they left Nintendo for Microsoft and their popularity declined drastically; most of their releases disappointed former fans and generally failed to attract new ones. Currently, although they still have admirers (the large majority being fans of the titles they made under Nintendo
), their games have a tendency to pop up on "most overrated" lists and are frequently badmouthed by the gaming press.
Games developed/published by Ashby Computers and Graphics/Ultimate Play the Game:
- Atic Atac
- Tranz Am
- The Sabreman series
- Alien 8
- The Staff of Karnath
Games developed/published by Rare (1985-2003):
Games developed by Rare, a subsidiary of Microsoft:
Tropes associated with Rare:
- Creator Thumbprint: Keys. Enormous keys, bigger and heavier than the characters, the most famous being the infamous ice key from Banjo-Kazooie / Banjo Tooie. Both Diddy Kong Racing and Donkey Kong 64 feature gigantic gold keys as plot coupons; finding or using a key is always a momentous occasion. Atic Atac was all about finding the four small(ish - they're the same size as a wrench) keys that unlocked the doors to find the ACG Master Key, a gold key that took up your entire inventory.
- Executive Meddling: Even former employees agree that Microsoft's micro-management of the company has hurt their business. To contrast, Rare made tons of games under Nintendo, yet it has probably only made about ten or fewer games for the entirety of their Microsoft ownership. Prior to Kinect Sports and the restructuring, Rare made just as many games for Nintendo's portable consoles as it did for Microsoft's home consoles.
- Funny Animal
- Follow the Leader: It cannot be denied that Rare had a tendency to play to the trends, exploring the same genres and tropes as other games, usually from Nintendo, that had recently been successful. Donkey Kong Country followed Super Mario World. Banjo-Kazooie followed Super Mario 64. Diddy Kong Racing followed Mario Kart. Killer Instinct followed Mortal Kombat. Heck, while they have been making an effort to avoid this during their Microsoft years, the Xbox 360 Avatars blatantly imitate Miis. However, Tropes Are Not Bad, because Rare's games improved and expanded upon Nintendo's formulas enough to be considered proper evolutions of the genre and spiritual successors, especially since their games were exclusive to Nintendo systems as Nintendo owned Rare, making it so that they were sort of "stealing from themselves."
- Gotta Catch Them All: Rare is particularly notorious for this. The trend started in the Donkey Kong Country series, where progressively more and more items were needed to attain 100% Completion. Later, Banjo-Kazooie, while a great game, had a rather large number of collectibles. Finally, Donkey Kong 64 took things Up to Eleven and is often accused of killing the "collect-a-thon" genre of 3D platformers.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Banjo-Tooie. The tradition is carried on into Nuts 'N Bolts as well.
- Live Item: Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong 64, Banjo-Kazooie, Star Fox Adventures
- No Fourth Wall: Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong 64, Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts and Conker's Bad Fur Day
- Subverted Kids Show: Blatantly in Conkers Bad Fur Day, more subtly in Banjo-Tooie
- Urban Legend of Zelda: Famously in Perfect Dark, even more famously in Banjo-Kazooie
- Variable Mix: The Banjo-Kazooie series in particular popularized it
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: Conkers Bad Fur Day and Jet Force Gemini