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Missed Opportunities: Super Rareware Galaxy

by Nicholas Bray - August 31, 2013, 5:26 pm PDT
Total comments: 15

Gravity defying fun and a Rare opportunity.

Here are some more missed opportunities to get the mind thinking. This time around I want to talk a little about Mario Galaxy and Rareware. So, what could I possibly have to say about Galaxy having some missed opportunity? Read on.

Mario Galaxy

I was disappointed with Mario Galaxy. “What?” I hear you say, “How can that be?” you ask. Well, let me explain. I, of course, was not disappointed with either Galaxy game; they are and will always be fantastic. However, after I had played through the original game, I was a little perplexed at the absence of levels featuring more varying degrees of gravitational intensity.

I initially expected to see some levels in which the player would have to deal with Mario being constrained by heavier or lighter forces. I think this would have been interesting: forcing the player to adapt to different timing and jump height. Granted, depending on how the levels were constructed, making Mario heavier may not have been that fun or satisfying. But, I think the opposite could have been true with having hardly any force holding Mario down. Having a level where you must make enormous leaps through space would be fun, and especially tense if the player was prevented from correcting their trajectory.

Rareware

During the Nintendo 64 era, Rareware was one of the most productive development studios on the system. Their games, for better or worse, defined the system just as much as Nintendo’s own. I feel Nintendo letting the studio fall out of their hands was a bad long-term decision.

Nintendo did gain a lot of money in the sale of Rare, but at what cost? Lets imagine for a moment that Rare’s output would have mostly stayed on par in terms of quality if they had stayed with Nintendo. The GameCube would have had a broader scope of exclusive titles and it would have most certainly helped a great deal in fending off Microsoft’s new console. I knew a lot of people at the time that went out and bought the Xbox within the first year or so of Rare becoming exclusive to Microsoft, just because of the promise of Rare’s titles.

With the Wii, Rare could have had a similar effect to what they likely would have had on the GameCube, although their presence probably would not have been as needed, and their effect would be slightly smaller. I think Nintendo was able to put out more quality first party titles for the Wii than the GameCube, and they also had some good partnerships with studios such as Next Level Games and Monster Games. But, imagine the Wii with everything we got and then some Rareware on top! Just the N64 Virtual Console would have been light years better.

That brings us to the Wii U. It’s much harder to project Rare’s presence this far removed from their heyday, but lets assume once again that they would have continued to make quality games under the guidance of Nintendo. Maybe they would have been able to put out a couple of titles within the first year. Would they have made the system more appealing? Possibly. Would they have filled out Nintendo’s portfolio a little more? Yes, almost definitely.

That’s the biggest missed opportunity. Rare didn’t just bring different types of games, they brought more games, and more games is what Nintendo always seems to struggle with in light of small third-party support. It was a mistake to let go a studio that could keep up game output to almost the same level as Nintendo themselves.

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Talkback

yoshi1001August 31, 2013

You do have to wonder, however, if they kept Rare, would they have picked up Retro? Next Level? I don't know enough to say myself.

Kytim89August 31, 2013

Even if Nintendo had kept Rare they would have probably still aquired Retro and partnered with Next Level and Monster Games. I would have preferred Rare to work on their own IPs and new ones and let Retro and the other wester allies to Nintendo work on Donky Kong and Metroid, and the other stuff during the Gamecube, Wii, and Wii U eras. Having their games on the Wii Virtual Console would have made that service ten times better and playing Battletoads on the Gamepad would have been a blast to experience. Hell, we would have probably gotten a Conker and Banjo sequel along with a good quality Perfect Dark game by now. The new Killer Instinct would be a better fit on the Wii U and its controller. Do not get me started on what they could contribute to Smash Brothers.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusAugust 31, 2013

Rare was trending downwards and Nintendo was propably whipping Rare at 100% during the N64 days. If Nintendo couldn't whip them into shape then, I doubt they could have done it during the GC era had they kept them.

Nintendo had deemed them unmanageable. Rare under MS more than likely had effectively unlimited resources. With that they have yet to put out a single good game of note. A sugar coated poison pill if there ever was one. I am surprised that MS hasn't closed them or let them good to collapse like Silicon Knights did.

azekeSeptember 01, 2013

Quote from: yoshi1001

You do have to wonder, however, if they kept Rare, would they have picked up Retro? Next Level? I don't know enough to say myself.

As far as i remember, Nintendo already started flipping teatables at Retro which ended with complete buy-out before they sold Rare away.

Evan_BSeptember 01, 2013

I don't really see the point of this article. Rare was on a downward spiral by the end of the N64 days and it's doubtful that they would have brought much more variety to the GCN or Wii. Their games were simply less-recognizable IPs and they barely strayed from an extremely safe and unimpressive genre that has long since been abandoned. Why? I don't know. Collect-a-thons may have been safe and ambiguous, but titles like Super Mario Sunshine had a level of quality and ingenuity that is, in my opinion, far superior to the Galaxy titles and EAD's recent abysmal 3D (blank) titles.

arnoldrobinsonjrSeptember 01, 2013

From what I see Rare is not good any more. since they left The Big N I have not seen a blockbuster? But you did say with some help

MagicCow64September 01, 2013

I followed the old letter sections at Rareware back in the day, and for two years or more before the sale they seemed to be in semi-open revolt against Nintendo. Anyone remember that Christmas card they posted with a PS2 and Xbox wrapped under the tree?

PlugabugzSeptember 01, 2013

Rare is a great example of the "nintendo curse" - anyone who works with nintendo (a studio) then breaks off usually falls into issues after.

Kytim89September 01, 2013

It is easy to understand Rare's rebellion against Nintendo considering how controlling Nintendo was during the 1990s. Had Rare stayed with Nintendo then their business relationship would have probably rebounded with good games. The Stamper brothers might have stayed with the company and Nintendo.

The biggest thing to remember in regards to Rare's decline is that the company culture and creative process was changed slowly after they were sold. From what I gather the teams didn't have the freedom to explore as much as they had in the past. Just look up articles and comments from the staff, they went through a lot of prototypes for new games that were either shut down or changed drastically.


Even though there were obviously internal struggles at the company, I still think they were able to create some good titles over the last decade. Perfect Dark was still actually a pretty fun multiplayer game with tons of options, Viva Pinata was a high quality title, Banjo was good despite not being what people wanted, I'd even go as far to say Kinect Sports was good.


The culture at Rare was what allowed the people to create good titles, if Nintendo had kept them I think they would have continued on much like they had been. I also disagree in saying that they were on some sort of massive decline in quality. Sure, Starfox Adventures was merely average, but over the course of 2000-2001 they released Perfect Dark, Banjo-Tooie and Conker's Bad Fur Day.


It's impossible to see what would have happened, but at the very least Nintendo would have controlled their IP's.

Leo13September 03, 2013

I just wish Nintendo would have worked something out before selling them off that would have allowed Rare's games to be sold on the Virtual Console.

Ian SaneSeptember 03, 2013

Rare were a big part of the N64.  I look at the back of the box my launch Gamecube came in and it has pictures of Rare games.  It was 100% reasonable to assume that the Nintendo/Rare partnership was going to continue on the Cube.  A year after launch Nintendo sold them and then about six months later Nintendo backed out of their "online plans".  At the time it felt like Nintendo had scammed me with false advertising.  If you want a clue of when I got very negative with Nintendo those two events are the start.

Plus selling the Perfect Dark IP right when the FPS genre became the most popular one in North America was pretty shortsighted.  Nintendo were the kings of the console FPS on the N64 and then they sold the dev that made that possible to the new console FPS kings.  They realistically had the best franchise to compete with Halo and they SOLD IT TO MS.  Doesn't that sound like a classic MS move, to buy Halo's top competitor from out-of-touch foreigners who base worldwide market decisions on the trends of their home country?  And Nintendo has never adequately replaced Rare or Rare's IP, or even appeared to have made an attempt to do so.  Retro is the closest we have but when I bought a Cube the assumption was that BOTH companies would be involved and Retro has created literally ZERO new IP and makes games at like a quarter of the rate Rare used to.

Hey, who took over Nintendo mere months before they sold Rare?

Luigi DudeSeptember 03, 2013

Quote from: Ian

Hey, who took over Nintendo mere months before they sold Rare?

Actually Yamauchi was still in charge when the Stampers asked Nintendo if they'd buy their 51% of the company and he refused.  Yeah Iwata became president before Rare was officially announced to being bought by Microsoft, but the Stampers had already begun auctioning the company off to the highest bidder.  So there wasn't much Iwata could have done since Microsoft was already interested and trying to outbid Microsoft wasn't really an option for Nintendo.  Especially when Microsoft was willing to pay Nintendo over 300 million for their 49% of Rare anyway.

azekeSeptember 04, 2013

Quote from: Luigi

Actually Yamauchi was still in charge when...

Don't ruin his hate splurge with stupid facts.

Leo13September 04, 2013

How do you guys know all of that? I was in Jr. High during Rare's hayday. All I know was on the N64 I played tons of Rare games and I suddenly quit playing Rare games.

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