OverviewRare 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 Piñata 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.
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TriviaIn the Golden Joystick Award 1983 Ultimate was awarded as Software House of the Year (other nominations were: Melbourne House, Imagine and Llamasoft). The award was organised by the magazine Computer and Video Games and only included UK companies and games by UK companies.
Related Web Sites
- Rare Limited (official website)
- In search of the ultimate game (August 1983 interview with Timothy Stamper from UK magazine Home Computing Weekly)
- Mundo Rare (A Spanish Rare fansite with comprehensive information that is also English-friendly.)
- The best of British - Ultimate Play the Game (A rare interview with the Stamper brothers about Ultimate from UK gaming magazine Crash in 1988.)
- The Games Machine: Interview with Tim and Chris Stamper 1988. (Very big article on the early years, the turning to Japan and one of the very rare interviews with the founders of Ultimate and Rare.)
- The gang of four (UK magazine Popular Computing Weekly August 1983 article on Ultimate Play the Game)
- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Encyclopaedic entry)