Not many developers can rival the rich history, nor accolades that Rare has accumulated over the years. Their body of work is mostly instant classics that are responsible for plenty of fond memories for older gamers. Young pups know the studio for their less than exciting Kinect titles. That’s not to disparage their work, but even the slight mention of motion controls send the worst kind of shivers down gamers’ spines. It’s probably not fair to instantly dismiss their most recent work, but they just don’t have the prestige of titles like Donkey Kong Country and GoldenEye 64. Which is why, for the first time in a long time, the team seems to have some of the old excitement back with their announcement of Sea of Thieves and Rare Replay, which are both heading to the Xbox One.
Fans have been clamoring for the studio to get back to their roots, and while we didn’t get exactly what we wanted, a new IP that doesn’t rely on Kinect functionality is exciting. With all of this in mind, I jumped at the opportunity to lend an ear towards the company’s panel at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, where they further discussed their current projects.
The panel consisted of Ryan Stevenson (artist), Louise O’Conner (art director, voice of several characters, & programmer), Adam Park (lead producer), and studio head Craig Duncan, who moderated. It was a nice little group of people who have been through the ups and downs of the business. First on the dock was Rare Replay talk. We got a look at the intro cutscene that everyone will be greeted with once they load up the game, and it had such a silly, fun, vibe to it that fans will surely enjoy. All the characters from the included titles are on stage singing and dancing– quite a glorious sight to behold.
More interestingly, a couple of games within the collection were discussed. For those dying to know, the original Conker’s Bad Fur Day will be included in the package. Partly because the team wants to, again, celebrate 30 years, and the original version is the one that would be more authentic. Speaking on the subject of authenticity, Battletoads at the moment still has the infamous glitch that completely drops the second player when the eleventh level is reached. But, it sounds like they already have the fix ready. The discussion is ongoing though, and because it’s part of the legendary difficulty of the game, the team had been considering leaving it in there. I, for one, am all for including the bug.
Then they segued to their recently announced, still incredibly vague title, Sea of Thieves. Unfortunately, not much more was revealed about the game that we didn’t already knew. It’s about pirates and you will have the opportunity to play with friends. An extra piece of art was shared with attendees, which featured a female pirate looking like a boss in a cave, while looting treasure.
What was blatantly apparent is that the studio wants to celebrate their achievements, the 30 years of magic, and remind people what the team is capable of. The panelists were excited to speak on their history and furthermore, seemed absolutely jubilant about the pirate-filled title. When speaking to Craig Duncan after the panel, he echoed this exact sentiment. One interesting tidbit that was discussed, was the studio’s ability to push the boundaries in the gaming world, in which he stated that Sea of Thieves will do things that no one has seen before. Not that is wasn’t clear, but he made sure to let me know that the small amounts of information given about their project was intentional. He is also extremely proud of all of their work, including their Kinect experiences.
He told me of a young boy who came up to him and told him that Kinect Sports was his favorite game. Incredible as that might sound, Rare has been a part of every generation of video games in some way. Even if it doesn’t always pan out in the manner that the hardcore audience wants, the team constantly works hard. This is not uncommon of course, but a good reminder that just because something is not your cup of tea, someone else out there may enjoy it.
At this juncture, Rare doesn’t receive the same recognition they once did in players. Times change, and a large part of the team does not include the extremely talented people that created the classics–that’s alright. This team seems to have something to prove, and that’s a win for us. It means that they will work even harder to try and meet the consumers expectations and surpass it. If they don’t produce excellence, they will continue to be known as the team that once was a leader of innovation. I will give them the benefit of the doubt, partially because I want them to succeed.
What are your thoughts on Rare? Do you still hold them to the high standards of yesteryear? Battle your way into the comments section below to let us know what you think. Want to talk to me about the some Conker, I’m only a tweet away: @collegescrubz.