Rare Games: 15 Years After Microsoft Purchased Them

Rare is well known in gaming having released a number of games for almost every generation spanning multiple genres and franchises. They've got a steady list of special characters owned under their name and while many have sat dormant, others have shown up a couple times in new releases. With the fifteen year mark having passed since they were purchased by Microsoft to release Xbox games I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the titles and the impact those games had on the industry.

To start, Rare was purchased in late 2002 by Microsoft for $375 million to help build the Xbox brand. It was a big deal then and helped Xbox by providing a number of fresh new games on all of their released consoles. I'll start with the first release and move forward from there going over information on each of the titles. There are eleven games, one remastered collection and Sea of Thieves on the horizon which should be mentioned.

Grabbed by the Ghoulies (2003) Xbox "Xbox 360 as Digital, Rare Replay"
-Cooper and his girlfriend Amber end up being trapped in a mansion, bad things happen. This game was originally set to release on GameCube, but after the purchase was brought over to Xbox. This caused the scope of the game to be shifted resulting eventually in mixed reviews and unknown, yet apparently small sales numbers.

Conker: Live & Reloaded (2005) Xbox
-The single player aspect was a remake of Conker's Bad Fur Day with a new multiplayer component dedicated to Xbox Live. Development started right from the moment of Xbox purchasing Rare. It was well received at the time review wise with apparently small sales numbers. The online component was quite popular for many years on the original Xbox Live service.

Rare Games: 15 Years After Microsoft Purchased Them
Kameo: Elements of Power (2005) Xbox 360 "Xbox One Backwards Compatible, Rare Replay"
-Kamo was a single player action adventure game where players could adjust their shape in order to solve puzzles using the various creatures’ special abilities. The game was originally set to be on four different consoles including the Nintendo 64, GameCube, Xbox and then it finally released as a Xbox 360 launch title. The game was mostly well received review wise with sales that were considered par which somewhat stopped its sequel from happening. The sales were close to the previous two by estimates, but keep in mind this was at a console launch so fairly solid.

Perfect Dark Zero (2005) Xbox 360 "Xbox One Backwards Compatible, Rare Replay"
-A prequel to the original game in the series, this first person shooter follows Joanna Dark as she prevents a rival corporation from collecting an artifact. There was also a full multiplayer aspect of the game where up to thirty two players could compete against one another across various modes. This was a Xbox 360 launch game that was well received review wise with excellent sales exceeding one million units. It was yet another game that originally started production on a Nintendo platform with this initially going to be on the Gamecube.

Viva Piñata (2006) Xbox 360 "Xbox One Backwards Compatible, Rare Replay"
-Being filled with fun to tackle running a garden filled of magical pinatas that happen to run into the area. It's a farming simulation of sorts as you deal with hostile creatures and mutate pinatas by mating them. The game was well received (obviously) for gameplay and graphics with the title exceeding half a million sales. It also launched the Viva Pinata franchise which had some sequels and a show.

Jetpac Refuelled (2006) Xbox 360 "Xbox One Backwards Compatible, Rare Replay"
-This was the fourth and final installment of the Jetman series and a remake. The game had a pile of levels to it and was received with solid reviews though sales were unknown.

Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise (2008) Xbox 360 "Xbox One Backwards Compatible, Rare Replay"
-This was the direct sequel to the original Viva Pinata bringing with it awesome cooperative play, an expanded garden environment and many new pinata breeds. The received excellent reviews being very similar to the original game while also having a similar set of sales to that release.

Rare Games: 15 Years After Microsoft Purchased Them

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (2008) Xbox 360 "Xbox One Backwards Compatible, Rare Replay"
-The last Banjo title, Nuts & Bolts finds the two heroes slightly out of shape and bored since they faced victory. Eventually the two have to kick it into gear by creating custom vehicles in order to solve challenges in a fresh design for the series. The review reception was mostly positive with the game exceeding sales of 400,000.

Kinect Sports (2010) Xbox 360
-Back when Xbox was all for the Kinect, the Sports franchise from Rare did incredibly well. This first entry released with multiple sports including ten-pin bowling, boxing, track and field, table tennis, beach volleyball and football (soccer). All modes could be played locally or online and fully used the power of Kinect at the time. The reviews were generally solid for the game and it had sales exceeding three million units.

Kinect Sports: Season Two (2011) Xbox 360
-A quick follow-up being very similar to the original the game carried golf, darts, baseball, skiing, tennis, and football (American). It retained local and online multiplayer options while also adding voice controls. The reviews were lower than the first release though sales did apparently exceed two million units.

Kinect Sports: Rivals (2014) Xbox One
-The third entry in the Sports series was a brand new effort using the powerful new Kinect for Xbox One. It had more new sports including bowling, jetski racing, rock climbing, soccer, target shooting, and tennis. These were all used to showcase the better performance of the Kinect and the better tracking. The game received lower reviews than Season Two with apparently sales exceeding 500,000 and the game caused a great loss to Rare.

Rare Replay (2015) Xbox One -Collection of thirty previous games from their history, since it's a collection I won't go in-depth with it.

Read Which Cancelled Rare Games Should be Revived
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Gamerheadquarters Reviewer Jason Stettner