Former Rare games coder and Nyamyam co-founder Phil Tossell has claimed that Nintendo were once “quite envious” of Rare’s technical ability and artistic design within their hit games. After becoming a second-party developer for Nintendo in the early ’90s, Rare had success with Donkey Kong Country, Conker’s Bad Fur Day and Starfox Adventures to name but a few, though it was Banjo-Kazooie that really kicked up a storm on the N64.
According to a RetroGamer interview, Phil Tossell, while working at Rare, said Shigeru Miyamoto often visited the studio regularly and heard a startling rumour that Nintendo revised their textures on Zelda after seeing Rare’s game development.
“Nintendo were often quite envious of us. I got the feeling they thought our games were technically and artistically superior to theirs. Miyamoto would visit regularly and I heard a rumor they redid all of the textures on Zelda after they’d seen our work on Banjo-Kazooie because our game looked better!”
Phil Tossell, a former programmer at Rare who worked on notable titles such as Donkey Kong Country and Star Fox Adventures, has openly talked about his experiences after being taken over by Microsoft. Tossell says that the company were initially determined to create titles that gamers had always expected from the company, however Microsoft told them to make the games they had always made for an audience that basically didn’t want those types of games.
“We were being asked to make the games we’d always made for an audience that didn’t want those sort of games. The reason we did Black Widow, Crackdown and aged up Kameo was because we were trying to bridge that gap but Microsoft wouldn’t let us.”
Creative director of Rare, Simon Woodrooffe, has stated that he wants Kinect Sports Rivals for Xbox One to stand the test of time the same way Nintendo’s Wii Sports and Mario Kart games have. Much like Wii Sports, Kinect Sports Rivals features sports-based mini games like soccer and bowling. The title, which was recently delayed from this holiday season to Spring 2014, is the follow-up to 2010’s Kinect Sports. Woodrooffe said he hopes gamers are still purchasing the game along with an Xbox One console for years to come. Here are the director’s full comments on the matter:
“We think–well, we hope–that this is the sort of game that’s still one of the first things that anyone who buys an Xbox One gets even two or three years from now…sort of like Wii Sports and Mario Kart for the Wii.”
Rare studio’s Simon Woodroffe has told The Official Xbox Magazine that there’s a possibility the company will revisit one of its older franchises after it’s done working on Kinect Sports Rivals. Woodroffe says the developer has got numerous ideas for Kinect in Perfect Dark, Banjo Kazooie, Viva Pinata and other historic games. He also said that Banjo is very popular internally and that the staff would love to do something with the series.
“When we launched Kinect obviously there was a big focus on ‘everything must be Kinect,'” he said in a behind-closed-door chat at the show. “Now it’s in the box, use it where it make sense, don’t where it doesn’t. It can be used in some really – not gimmicky ways, which is what I think you’ll see a fair amount of – but ways that actually really enhance the game. We’ve got some ideas for how to use it in the right way.” Which might even be in a new Perfect Dark.
“Maybe! We’ve got an idea for that. It would be controller plus Kinect. We’ve got ideas for most older Rare IP, you won’t be surprised to hear. There’s quite a lot of desire to do that, and Viva Pinata, Conker… Banjo’s very popular internally, a lot of people want to do stuff with Banjo.”
“So if we can find the right – we’re all about giving people new experiences, that’s what we want to do. It’s a very technical studio. I’m relatively new, what I’ve learned is they’re brilliant at technology, they really know how to make creative things out of technology.”
“We want to find that thing that nobody’s ever done before and make a game out of it. We should be inventing new genres, inventing new ways to play. And this sensor gives us new opportunities to do it, with the fidelity it has now.”
Conker’s Bad Fur Day director, Chris Seavor, has revealed that Microsoft mistakenly thought they owned the Donkey Kong franchise when they purchased Rare back in 2002. The information came about when Seavor was asked where the Xbox One’s equivalent of PlayStation 4 exclusive Knack was. Seavor then told the tale about Microsoft and Donkey Kong. Here’s what he had to say.
The current generation of ‘enablers’ won’t even know they own the IP… Here’s a true story.. When Rare was first bought by MS a group of execs came on a tour.. One of them noticed the Donkey Kong. ..Posters everywhere and said.. ‘Hey that’s great.. We own Donkey Kong right??’ ………/massivesigh
Phil Tossell, a former Rare developer who’s now working on Wii U and iPad game Tengami, has revealed that the team really enjoyed working closely with Nintendo, as most of the team composed of Nintendo fans. Tossell says that there was a severe culture clash between Rare and its current employer, Microsoft. He said that as time past the culture at the acclaimed studio changed and it felt more like Microsoft and less like Rare.
“I think most of the people who worked at Rare at the time were Nintendo fans and we loved working closely with Nintendo. Rare was also a close knit family and so it was something of a shock to suddenly become part of such a huge organisation as Microsoft. There was a severe culture clash which perhaps didn’t become apparent at first as Microsoft mostly allowed us to continue as we had always done.”
“However as time passed and there were staff changes at MGS, together with Tim and Chris (Stamper) leaving, the culture changed and it began to feel more Microsoft and less Rare. While Rare continues to put out high quality games, for me it lost some of the spark that had made the company special.”
“I think at the moment the company is going through something of a rebirth as there are lots of new people and most of the old staff have left, so I’m excited to see what they do next. Whatever Rare does it will always hold a special place for me.”
Chris Marlow, one of the programmers behind the well-received Donkey Kong 64, has explained why the game required the Nintendo 64 Expansion Pack. Marlow says that the reason the game needed the Expansion Pack is due to a game-breaking bug that caused Donkey Kong 64 to randomly crash in the 4 meg only version. However, the game didn’t crash when used with the Expansion Pack installed. Rare couldn’t find a solution to the problem other than bundling the Expansion Pack free with the game – which apparently cost Rare a fortune.