Once beloved by fans around the world, Rare has become something of an iconic "fall from grace." The company no longer demands the attention it did during its Nintendo days, and it has instead cast aside its image as a developer of wonderful IP to become Microsoft's poster child for the Kinect.
This transformation has not left Rare fans very happy, a notion that Kinect Sports Rivals Executive Producer Danny Isaac says in an interview with OXM is not too frustrating when you look at the numbers.
"When you look at the Kinect Sports franchise we've sold over eight million units. That's pretty impressive, for a franchise like that. So we're still talking to a very vibrant audience out there."
Isaac blames the "cynical" reaction of older fans to the Kinect on their unwillingness to try it.
"We do have a cynical, more hardcore audience who think it's not for them, but when those people have come up and played they've actually been pleasantly surprised by how accurate it is — I would say the Preseason wake-racing is as good as any racing game out there, from a fun point of view."
I have played with the Kinect, and agree that it can be very fun with the proper games and situation. Given the chance to play it or more traditional takes on Rare games though, I would choose a straight up Perfect Dark, Banjo-Kazooie, and Conker's Bad Fur Day game at any occasion. Many fans from the studio's Golden Age would seem to share that sentiment.
Isaac doesn't give a definite answer as to when those games are coming back, and says that Rare is always looking at the company's back catalog, the good stuff which put them in the position it is in today.
"Of course we always look at our back catalog, we look at what's going on, and there are always games we'd love to build. Some of them Kinect-based, some of them not."
"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."
For what its worth, Donkey Kong Country has found a more than suitable successor at Retro Studios, and Killer Instinct is being hyped as a major launch title for the Xbox One under the development at Double Helix.
Fans wanting Rare to go back to those wonderful days will just have to suck it up and realize that won't happen. Every attempt it has made at older IP, Conker Live & Reloaded, Perfect Dark Zero, or Banjo-Kazooie: Nut and Bolts, have been met with mixed reactions, and the sales figures on Kinect Sports blow those properties out of the water.
Most of the guys from classic Rare have moved on, and its old-school model might not last in the modern market. The days of mascots are gone, and the new Rare treats these properties as its own little Mega Man franchises, teasing us with the idea that it might make another good game with them someday if Rare could just stop making money from its new-found success.
Play Kinect Sports or move on from Rare. There is so much more in the world to do than sit around and wait for Banjo, Conker and the gang to get back together.