Rare Vintage: Part Two
In part two of our look back over 25 years of Rare, studio head Mark Betteridge, creative director George Andreas and head of design Gregg Mayles, are joined by executive producer Nick Burton. You can read part one of this article, here.
Format: N64 Publisher: Nintendo Release: 2000
GM: We wanted to push our own IP rather than do the next Bond game. The core of the game was still GoldenEye but a lot of the crazier ideas were suggested almost as jokes – like the laptop gun or being able to see through walls. I don’t think there was a masterplan. Banjo 2 originally had a counter-operative mode – something that PD borrowed. The ghost was supposed to follow you around, zooming off to any enemy so a second player could control it. There were all kinds of issues to fix, and testing time got the better of us. But then PD came along.
GA: Couldn’t you control Elvis at one point?
MB: You could take the Game Boy Camera and put your own faces on the characters.
GM: [But] there was concern about the backlash from players putting in photos of their teachers.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Format: N64 Publisher: Nintendo Release: 2001
MB: We’d go for anything, including ourselves – but [certain licensors] didn’t see it that way: “We’d prefer it if you didn’t do that. We appreciate that it is quite funny, but it’s not really in our strategy.” I remember when we demoed it to Nintendo, to Mr Arakawa [Nintendo founder] and Howard Lincoln who was president at the time – it was a scene in which Conker pisses all over these fire monsters. Mr Arakawa was cracking up, but Howard Lincoln, who’s like this Harvard lawyer, was sitting there going: “I’m not sure I find this funny.” I found it funny that he didn’t find it funny. So there was a thing with M-rated games with Nintendo. Even when we had GoldenEye there was a lot of resistance to blood or injury. At one point, the ending featured all the characters hugging each other – they’re all right really! It was like panto.
Star Fox Adventures
Format: Gamecube Publisher: Nintendo Release: 2002
MB: To start off with it was called Dinosaur Planet. It’d been around for a while, and we were kind of on the money in thinking that dinosaurs had been forgotten about and were due a comeback in popular culture. Jurassic Park came out quite near to the start of development, which was obviously huge. It was Nintendo that suggested we use the Star Fox character – they felt he could be a character outside of his craft. I think he fitted OK, although a lot of Star Fox fans would probably have preferred a Star Fox style of game. But I think you’d obviously realise what it was while looking at it. I don’t think people would dislike what we did with the character in terms of how he moved and what he looked like in the game – but I guess people who like space shooters do like space shooters.
Grabbed By The Ghoulies
Format: Xbox Publisher: Microsoft Release: 2003
GM: The transition between GameCube and Xbox hardware was a bit of hiccup, but it wasn’t too bad. By that point Ghoulies was what it was – a game for the GameCube, and very much the Nintendo market. And suddenly it was on the Xbox and with a very different market. We tried to react to that and make the game a bit more appealing to that audience. And we achieved some of it, but if we’d had a bit longer we could have taken a lot more steps to make it more in line with what the Xbox audience was at the time.
GA: [The Microsoft deal] happened relatively quickly. It was generally supported company-wide as well. No one was that unhappy that we’d gone with Microsoft.
GM: We got [angry] letters every step of the way. Once they got email, it was like opening the floodgates.
MB: We still get them now.