Rare Fan Community Closes – Thanks To Rare Itself

Those of us old enough to remember the glory days of Donkey Kong Country and Goldeneye will no doubt look back fondly video game company Rare’s glory days, and then no doubt be reminded of when and how it all went wrong.

To give you some back story on Rare before we go any further, in their heyday from the mid-to-late-90s the company created several critically acclaimed video games, starting off with the Donkey Kong series on the SNES before going on to create such classics as Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, the Banjo-Kazooie games, Donkey Kong 64 and Conker’s Bad Fur Day on the Nintendo 64. Problems started to surface internally however, with what turned out to be a mass staff walkout between 1997 and 2000. Most of these staff members went on to form their own development companies, and all but a few closed down after only a couple of years in business. The damage to Rare had been done however, and they limped into the 21st century before being bought by Microsoft in 2002. They paid $365 million to have total control of the company, which meant that Rare became an exlusive first-party developer for any Microsoft console.

It took a further three years for Rare to release a game on Microsoft’s Xbox console, as they devoted their time to complete unfinished handheld games before their aquisition up to that point. Even then it was a remake of the N64’s Conker game, entitled Live And Reloaded. It didn’t do particularly as well as expected with critics and currently holds a 78/100 Metacritic rating – in the fickle world of video games any score lower than about 85 is usually considered a failure.

Upon the release of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console in late 2005 Rare went through something of a resurgence, finally starting to show why their parent company had paid so much for their services. Kameo: Elements of Power and Perfect Dark Zero were both launch titles, and again despite not getting particularly rave reviews it was a step in the right direction. Viva Pinata followed the following year which gained a little more critical accaim, and the 360’s first Banjo-Kazooie game was released in 2008. Nuts and Bolts once more recieved very mixed opinions, with reviewers and fans alike generally praising its graphics and unique gameplay but criticising it for a lack of a conventional platforming experience and simply because they were hoping for a direct sequel to the first two games in the series.

Nuts & Bolts was one of many more recent Rare games that generated mixed opinions

No matter what way you look at it, Rare have never really been able to retain the magic that made them one of the best video game developers in the world. This brings us to the point of the entire blog post – as a result of their recent failures a large majority of fans have effectively lost faith in them entirely – with the exception of one loyal fan community. MundoRare came to be about ten years ago, around the time when Rare themselves were starting to decline. Since then they’ve stood by them through thick and thin, with the company even acknowledging their admirable efforts. Because of Rare’s current low opinion among fans the fan community decided to put together a documentary package showcasing exactly what Rare are currently up to, and to basically prove to fans that the company isn’t completely dead quite yet.

What made the idea special is that MundoRare offered to do the entire thing for no charge – all legal matters were taken care of, it would be edited and distributed by members of the community both online and on Xbox Live and enable Rare to have some much needed public publicity. It seemed absolutely win-win for everyone, so leave it to Rare to turn round and say no despite both sides already being in talks about the ambitious project. The reason they gave didn’t make a whole lot of sense either, a spokesperson simply said that the documentary simply wouldn’t be “on message.”

So, as a result of a bad corporate attitude Rare have all but killed off their last truly loyal fanbase. And as for what they’re doing now they’re working on a title for Microsoft’s new Kinect hardware – a clone of Wii Sports. It’s a real shame the company has gone down the gutter, but if this is how they respond to what’s left of their fanbase it’s not really much of a surprise.

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Posted on July 28, 2010, in Video Games and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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