Rare Limited

Moby ID: 1939

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Rare Limited was formed in England in 1985 shortly before the Stamper brothers sold off Ultimate Play the Game. Rare took over the development activities for the NES. Rare Coin-it, a sister company, was formed in Miami under separate directorship, but Rare only produced four coin-ops (only one of which it published itself).

They produced a large number of NES games including RC Pro-Am and the Battletoads franchise (possibly based on the then-topical success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). During the NES days Rare became allied with Zippo Games, later buying that company from Steve and John Pickford and renaming it Rare Manchester. During this period Rare developed many licenses, and also programmed conversions.

In 1993/4 Rare risked the expense of a great deal of silicon graphics technology. This resulted in the creation of the Donkey Kong Country series for the SNES. Killer Instinct for the arcades (published by Midway, with subsequent console conversions published by Nintendo) used the same technology with similarly successful results.

The creation of Donkey Kong Country, apart from making Rare rich (it was released after the release of the SEGA Saturn, toward the end of the SNES' lifetime, resulting in it being the only obvious product for SNES owners to buy that Christmas), sealed Rare's relationship with Nintendo. Nintendo had bought 25% of Rare shares in 1995, meaning that Rare became a Nintendo second party developer. This relationship flourished after the release of the N64, which Rare supported with a string of high selling games. GoldenEye 007 sold around five million copies worldwide. Starting in 1997, rare began to self-publish game under the 1995 founded Rareware Limited.

In September 2002, Rare was bought by Microsoft for an alleged $375 million and they were tasked to develop two launch titles for the new Xbox 360 console that was released in November 2005: Kameo: Elements of Power and Perfect Dark Zero. Although fairly well received, they didn't match the success of Rare's earlier system sellers. In the first three years after the Microsoft acquisition Rare also created titles for THQ such as Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge and Banjo Pilot (2005) in the Banjo-Kazooie series, as well as Sabre Wulf (2004) and It's Mr Pants (2004). Rare also made two titles for Microsoft for the original Xbox: Grabbed by the Ghoulies (2003) and Conker: Live & Reloaded (2005).

In January 2007, it was announced that co-founders Chris and Tim Stamper were leaving the company that they once founded to pursue other opportunities. After the Xbox 360 launch titles Rare was almost uniquely focused on the Viva PiƱata franchise for Microsoft. Other projects were Diddy Kong Racing DS (2007) returning to an original franchise, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (2008) as another entry in a long-running series, and the XBLA game Jetpac Refuelled (2007).

As one of Microsoft's cornerstone developers Rare created Kinect Sports for the launch of Xbox 360 Kinect peripheral in November 2010, as the equivalent of Wii Sports for the Nintendo Wii launch, even though Kinect Sports was not bundled with the device. After developing several Kinect Sports sequels and the Rare Replay compilation of their classic games ported to the Xbox One, they closed off the 2010s with Sea of Thieves.

Credited on 101 Games from 1987 to 2020

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Battletoads (2020 on Windows, Xbox One, Windows Apps...)
Sea of Thieves (2018 on Windows, Windows Apps, Xbox One...)
Rare Replay (2015 on Xbox One)
Kinect Sports: Rivals (2014 on Xbox One)
Kinect Sports: Season Two (2011 on Xbox 360)
Kinect Sports (2010 on Xbox 360)
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (2008 on Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Cloud Gaming)
Viva PiƱata: Pocket Paradise (2008 on Nintendo DS)
Viva PiƱata: Trouble in Paradise (2008 on Xbox 360, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Xbox One)
Jetpac Refuelled (2007 on Xbox 360, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Xbox One)
Diddy Kong Racing DS (2007 on Nintendo DS)
Viva PiƱata (2006 on Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One...)
Kameo: Elements of Power (2005 on Xbox 360, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Xbox One)
Perfect Dark Zero (2005 on Xbox 360, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Xbox One)
Conker: Live & Reloaded (2005 on Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Banjo Pilot (2005 on Game Boy Advance)
It's Mr Pants (2004 on Game Boy Advance)
Sabre Wulf (2004 on Game Boy Advance, J2ME)
Grabbed by the Ghoulies (2003 on Xbox, Xbox 360)
Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge (2003 on Game Boy Advance)

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History +

January 2007

The original founders, Tim Stamper and Chris Stamper, leave the company.

September 24, 2002

Rare's long standing relationship with Nintendo ends as they are bought out by Microsoft. All of Rare's future GameCube titles, except for Star Fox Adventures, are now exclusive titles for the Xbox console system.


Killer Instinct Gold, a conversion of the arcade sequel Killer Instinct 2, is released as the first Nintendo 64 title for the company, along with Blast Corps.


Nintendo buys a 25% share of Rare, the first fiscal partnership Nintendo had ever undertaken with a company outside of Japan, thanks mainly to the success of Donkey Kong Country and Killer Instinct.


Releases Killer Instinct, one of two titles to use an early form of the Nintendo 64 hardware (then called the Ultra 64), to arcades.

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Trivia +

Rare were one of the first compaines to publish software off of Nintendo's Ultra 64 hardware (which later became the Nintendo 64). Killer Instinct along with Cruis'n USA were both released to arcades using the hardware.

Even though the company worked on many titles, Kameo: Elements of Power was Rare's first launch game for a console. It appeared on the Xbox 360 in 2005.

Between 1983 and 1986 Ultimate had an unbroken chain of 14 ZX Spectrum hit games, whose average overall rating of 93% (of those rated by CRASH).

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