In 2015, a majority of the gaming world thought that was it for Rare; a company once highly-regarded, now reduced to Kinect games. It was a shame of how it all began and seemingly ended.
But suddenly, to celebrate their 30 years, they announced a collection of their Rare games for the Xbox One, from Jetpack to Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts. People began re-discovering what made Rare so great, and really, why they still are.
This was further exemplified when Banjo-Kazooie was announced for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate last year, with so much uproar in celebration, it seemed like Rare Replay was coming to Switch. But alas, that still seems like a pipe-dream.
But now, it does make one wonder; is it time for Rare to go the same way as Bungie, to split off and be the independent company once again, free of the shackles of it’s parent company, Microsoft?
A Rare Feat
First, a little history. Back in the late nineties, Rare were riding high on the successes of GoldenEye, Banjo Kazooie, Donkey Kong, and many more. But in 2002, Rare had offered themselves to Nintendo to be bought, of which had declined, albeit bizarrely. Activision also made a bid, but failed to beat Microsoft’s offer.
Soon after, Microsoft snapped them up in a $375 million deal. But it wasn’t until 2005 that we saw the starting fruits of this deal, with the Conker: Live and Reloaded remake hitting the Xbox, followed by Perfect Dark Zero for the Xbox 360.
But cracks started to show. Viva Piñata, a game that was widely acclaimed, barely made a profit, and dropped out of the charts in weeks. Blame was mostly aimed on the marketing budget, with more attention seemingly given to Gears of War. Then Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts arrived in 2008; and while it was a fun game, it seemed misplaced for the characters and the world as a whole, and you can almost see the discontent in the ‘Rare Revealed’ video below.
Soon after, it seemed like Rare were becoming a distant memory, especially from 2010. There was even a new logo that gave the impression that Rare was a software company for the education industry.
Fast forward to 2020, and Rare are almost clawing back the high-acclaim they once had, with ‘Sea of Thieves’ and Banjo appearing in Super Smash Bros Ultimate, but it seems like something even more significant needs to happen here.
In 2007, Bungie announced that it was splitting from Microsoft, after being owned by them for most of the decade, and becoming independent once again. They’ve seen the fruits of this labour with Destiny becoming a huge success, alongside a new IP currently in development, for an unveiling occurring soon.
In my opinion, this is what the route should be for Rare next. They’ve always had a mantra for developing games for enjoyment, not for profit, and when it comes to a corporate body by Microsoft, unfortunately that mindset can be blind-sided by other things, especially by next-generation console releases.
Let Rare be Rare again. Granted, 2015 with the ‘Rare Replay’ release and the return of its original logo but modernised, was very welcome to many, but it can go so much further.
Let the Rare Spark Flourish
Banjo Kazooie and Conker are owned by Rare, so they are well within their right to have previous games or new entries appear on other systems, but they are under the hold of their parent company. Let them flourish in a time where online is key, where nostalgia reins and ease-of-access to games is so much bigger than what it was in 1999.
Clearly, Microsoft just aren’t sure what to do with an innovative company like Rare, it seems as though they like to have it as something for their armoury. Similar to how someone has an achievement on their CV that they can’t help but mention when in an interview, or on their Facebook ‘About’ section. The same goes for Microsoft with Rare here.
Lets see Banjo Threeie on multiple platforms; lets see a new ‘Stop and Swop’ but over cross-play, with a multiplayer and social media aspect. Let there be a Perfect Dark 2, and even a new Conker.
Hell, let there just be a new IP where it’s a single-player experience, because that’s where Rare flourished. It made a connection to the player, and it made them laugh in places, and made them wince in others. Just take ‘Conkers Bad Fur Day’ for an example of this.
Rare are almost the definition and the foreword in nostalgia for many, so let them go nuts with it. Let’s start with a Banjo Kazooie Collection on the Switch, and while Microsoft may see many cash-bags appear because of this, the gaming community will explode in excitement if they ever saw this announced on an upcoming Direct.
Essentially, it’s win-win for everyone, so it’s baffling to me that at least something like this hasn’t been considered as yet. So let’s make it happen Microsoft. If not for Rare’s fans, then your shareholders instead. Because everyone will benefit here, and everyone will be grateful for it when they load up Banjo-Tooie on their Switch.