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- "We've been making golden memories and redefining gaming genres since 1985, and that's not about to change. Everything we do is true to our goals of pursuing new experiences and putting players first. Still ahead of the game after three decades of evolution, there's no other studio in the world quite like Rare."
Rare Ltd., often known as Rare and formerly by their trade name Rareware, is a British video game development company. They have developed many video games, many of which were on Nintendo consoles. Since 2002, the entire company is owned by Microsoft and has since had their games on Xbox console. Rare has two studios: one in Twycross, in Leicestershire, England and one in Digbeth, in Birmingham, England. It was founded in 1985, as the successor company to Ultimate Play the Game.
Rare evolved from Ultimate Play the Game, a company which mainly designed games for the ZX Spectrum, such as Jetpac and Sabre Wulf, and would become the biggest UK-based video game development companies. The ZX Spectrum was only popular in the UK, and at the time had a large problem with piracy of home computer software. Believing they hit a dead end, the Stamper brothers sought another console to create games on.
In 1984, Tim and Chris Stamper got their first look at a Japanese home console, the Famicom. Because the Famicom was more advanced than the ZX Spectrum, the Stamper brothers saw potential in the console. In 1985, the brothers formed a subdivision of Ultimate Play the Game, called Rare, which was dedicated reverse-engineering the Famicom. With successful results and with the help of Joel Hochberg, the Stamper brothers were arranged to meet Nintendo executive Minoru Arakawa in Kyoto, Japan. During the meeting, the Stamper brothers presented a few software demos to Nintendo. At the time, Nintendo had a quality-control measure that restricted its third-party developers to the number of games that they could produce for the Famicom, or the Nintendo Entertainment System, in a given year. Nintendo was impressed with Rare's results and granted them a license to release as many games as they wanted. To help fund Rare, the Stamper brothers sold off Ultimate Play the Game to U.S. Gold.
Rare would become one of the first companies outside of Japan to develop games for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The first project Rare worked on was Slalom, a downhill skiing game. Rare then worked with various gaming publishers, including Tradewest, Acclaim Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Sega, Mindscape, and Gametek, to produce over 60 games for the Nintendo Entertainment System and several additional Game Boy conversions. Several of these games were licensed properties, but Rare would also develop some of their own intellectual properties, such as R.C. Pro-Am, Snake Rattle 'n' Roll, and the Battletoads series. The development of four of Rare's games were outsourced to Zippo Games, including Wizards & Warriors and Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warship, the third game of the Jetpac series. Rare eventually bought out the studio, and they were renamed to "Rare Manchester".
When the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was released, Rare was not immediately ready for the transition. Around the same time, Rare began to limit their releases and focused mainly on creating more Battletoads ganes. With the profit earned from their NES library, Rare purchased expensive Silicon Graphics workstations to create three-dimensional models while developing games. This move made Rare the most technologically advanced developer in the UK, and situated them high in the international market. With these workstations, Rare's priority was changed to focus on quality games instead of quantity.
Using the Silicon Graphics workstations, Rare created a boxing game demo and presented it to Nintendo. The Super Nintendo could not render all of the SGI graphics at once, so Rare used the SGI graphics to produce 3D models and graphics, before pre-rendering those graphics onto the Super Nintendo game, a process known as "Advanced Computer Modelling". Nintendo was impressed by Rare and bought a 25% stake in them, which gradually increased to 49%, making Rare a second-party developer for Nintendo. During this period, Rare formed the trademark name "Rareware". Nintendo offered their entire catalogue for Rare to make a game from. Rare decided to create a game named Donkey Kong Country, which became one of the best-selling Super Nintendo games and rooted the lucrative relationship between Rare and Nintendo.
Several games for the Donkey Kong franchise were developed. Rare would go on to develop and release several Nintendo 64 titles that became best-sellers, including GoldenEye 007, Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong 64, and Perfect Dark.
On September 24, 2002, Microsoft bought Rareware for 375 million dollars. The Rareware trade name has since been abandoned and changed back to simply "Rare". Ever since 2002, Rare has exclusively developed console titles for Xbox consoles. They would go on to release several Game Boy Advance games and two Nintendo DS games before closing their handheld division in 2008, after Viva Piñata: Pocket Paradise was released. In 2010, Rare opened a studio in Digbeth, in Birmingham, England.
As a first party studio for Microsoft, Rare created the Xbox Live Avatars. In the early 2010s, focused on developing Kinect Sports games that utilized both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One's Kinect. Around the year 2015, Rare stopped making Kinect games and released an online multiplayer title, Sea of Thieves.
- Main article: List of games
- Jetpac (1983)
- Sabre Wulf series (1984)
- Battletoads (1991)
- Donkey Kong Country (1994)
- Killer Instinct (1994)
- GoldenEye 007 (1997)
- Diddy Kong Racing (1997)
- Banjo-Kazooie (1998)
- Donkey Kong 64 (1999)
- Perfect Dark (2000)
- Conker's Bad Fur Day (2001)
- Star Fox Adventures (2002)
- Kameo: Elements of Power (2005)
- Viva Piñata (2006)
These are people who currently or have had a notable role at Rare.
- Tim and Chris Stamper: The original founders of the company. They left in January 2007 to pursue "other opportunities".
- Grant Kirkhope: Composer for most of Rare's Nintendo 64 games, and also the composer of Rare's most recent games. Possibly most famous for the music of Banjo-Kazooie. He left Rare in July 2008, to work with THQ's studio, Big Huge Games, as audio director.
- Robin Beanland: Composer for many of Rare's games. He was also the composer for Conker's Bad Fur Day and its remake, Conker: Live & Reloaded. He co-wrote the script with Chris Seavor.
- Chris Seavor: Originally working as a graphic designer for Rare, he eventually designed Conker's Bad Fur Day. He co-wrote the script with Robin Beanland, and voiced many of the characters, including Conker. He also voiced Slippy Toad and Peppy Hare in Star Fox Adventures.
- Martin Hollis: Left in 1998 and began working with Nintendo on the GameCube. He eventually formed the company Zoonami.
- David Doak: Left after Hollis and helped form Free Radical Design, the company behind the TimeSplitters franchise.
- Kevin Bayliss: Co-character design and animation, motion capture.
- David Wise: Composer for the Donkey Kong Country series and Diddy Kong Racing
- Eveline Fischer: She composed the music for Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble and voiced Joanna Dark in Perfect Dark.
- Chris Sutherland: One of the programmers and the voice actor for Banjo and Kazooie.
- Gregg Mayles: A designer for the Banjo-Kazooie series.
- Mark Betteridge: Main programmer on many of Rare's games, including Battletoads. He was the Studio Director from 2007–2010. He left the company that same year.
- Rare's website
- Rare's Twitter page
- Rare's Facebook page
- Rare's Instagram page
- Rare's YouTube channel
- "Rare Ltd. - Creators of Rare Replay and Sea of Thieves". Rare Ltd. - Creators of Rare Replay and Sea of Thieves. Retrieved July 17, 2015.
- "Behind The Scenes At Rare: Killer Instinct Gold Interview". RareGamer
- Maher, Jimmy. January 14, 2014. "The Legend of Ultimate Play the Game". The Digital Antiquarian.
- McLaughlin, Rus. 28 July, 2008. "IGN Presents the History of Rare". IGN. Retrieved July 17, 2015.
- 25 Years of Rare. GamePro Feature Story (archived).
- A Short History of Rare. Bloomberg. Published August 30, 2006 (archive.is).
- Microsoft Acquires Video Game Powerhouse Rare Ltd. article on Microsoft's official website. Published September 24, 2002.