So this week, the Rare web & community team/duo/one-man superspy operation (depending on day and workload) vacates the big green office that has been its home since April last year, and goes on a mission to acquire a new home elsewhere in the top secret rural complex that is Rare’s Twycross HQ.
Which seems like as good a time as any to take the camera on a whistle-stop tour of the Rare buildings, looking out from the inside, snapping some arbitrary window views to demonstrate how location has always been one of our best assets.
Pictures of random stuff found in offices and big sweeping corridor shots (sweeping as in grand and expansive, not focusing on cleaners) are also on the agenda, but one thing at a time, eh?
L-R: 1. Front of the Rare car park as seen from the stairs in the main building
2. View of reception area from the rear, taken from inside a development barn
3. Pond, decking and flowery wheelbarrow behind reception as seen from the main corridor
L-R: 4. Football pitch and rill viewed from the leafy Barn D adjoining corridor (not inside a bush)
5. Big view from the full-length window at the end of the top floor corridor; not a real bird
6. Terrace on the restaurant roof as seen through the boardroom windows
L-R: 7. The fields spread out behind Rare, viewed from the back of one of the barns
8. Front end of Barn A and the passageway joining it to the main corridor
9. Hello sir! Looking out over the decking past the latest addition to our reception area Sports decor
Oh crystal ball, crystal ball
Save us all, Mini-Scribes is beautiful
Mirror mirror, on the wall…
Q: I was wandering through the Servants’ Dormitory trying not to get pummeled to death by a Jessie N’ Clyde in Grabbed by the Ghoulies when I noticed a Frankie Goes To Hollywood Shirt on the ground to the right. My question, simply put, is why is there a ‘Frankie Says Relax’ shirt in my Ghoulies? Does the Baron wear it as he flies around in his pantomime plane? Is Crivens a fan of controversial ’80s synth pop? Or does it mean something else entirely?
Relax, don’t do it.
A: We have asked designers. We have asked artists. We have asked Professor Stephen Hawking, Professor Brian Cox and anti-Frankie 1980s DJ Mike Read, or at least thought about it. None of those people confess to any knowledge of the content of this allegation. Either what you’ve uncovered here is a fragment of the most well-guarded conspiracy in human history, or the person who put it there has since left the company. Or, equally conceivably, half the people who worked on Ghoulies have chronic memory rot from years of reality TV, junkfood and alcopops.
Q: Dear Rare,
Since for reasons unspecified you refuse to make the action/adventure games your fans have been demanding for over a decade could you at least put some of the beloved characters from those games in your sports games. I think it would take away a little of the sting if I could at least play as Banjo and Kazooie or Conker in one of your sports games.
A: Reasons unspecified: we can’t possibly create every sequel and remake and XBLA port that people bawl at us to make on a daily basis, and when it comes down to it, Kinect Sports has proven more popular than anything else we’ve done in recent years. So while we never rule out returning to action-adventure or any other genre, we also have to a) be able to afford junkfood and alcopops and b) satisfy an active audience of more than three million people who now know Rare best for Kinect Sports.
Many ideas were (and continue to be) tossed around for Sports mascots; the inevitable consensus was that the audience for this franchise is different enough to find a load of old-school Rare references bewildering rather than encouraging. Especially if one of them was Mr. Pants, which I would make damn sure it was.
Sounds a bit niche, doesn’t it? This was originally set to be a straight Top 5 boxart list, but some of the territorial variations uncovered along the way demanded their own spotlight. There’s no clear-cut policy: sometimes the whole world shares the artwork, sometimes Europe and North America differ, sometimes Japan goes its own way. So from those we stumbled across by happy accident to those bigged up by someone involved, let’s have a look at five of the Eastern standouts.
TOP 5 JAPANESE RARE BOXART VARIANTS
According to… Leigh Loveday
1. Perfect Dark
Probably the most recognisable one on this list, and not just because it was desktop wallpaper on the site for a while due to popular demand. A very different approach to the eventual US and European covers (which in themselves were a lot better than some of the initial ideas, we can assure you), reflecting the very different title almost adopted for the Japanese market, Red & Black.
2. Star Fox Adventures
Unusually for Japan, this one swapped out the hand-drawn scene that everyone else got for a montage of rendered artwork, but the restrained colour scheme and lurking SharpClaws for balance rounded out a well-planned composition. Japan was also gifted with some spontaneous comic book frames and bursts of double exclamation marks on the back. “Bad luck!! General.”
3. Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise
Cover artwork has tended to be global throughout Rare’s Xbox years, with very few exceptions. This was one of them. The original Viva Piñata retained familiar boxart in Japan, but for the sequel we received a request for something different to the striking rest-of-world version. “The Japanese marketing team liked the idea of showing it in the style of a boardgame, as it’s all about tactics,” recalls the game’s producer Adam Park.
Mini-Scribes. A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of some games… that do not exist.
Q: I have a host of questions, enough so that you can probably make an entire Mini-Scribes blog with only them. But for the interest of time, I will cut it down to my top 4 questions.
1. Is Kameo gone? I mean you know it’s bad luck to kill fairies right?
2. You guys stated that you were going to closely monitor PD XBLA, how’s it doing? Because all the forums I’ve surfed on the web have many loyal Rare fans (myself included) dying for another controller-based PD (with a British Joanna Dark). OXM dropped a rumour for 2011. How much base was that rumor on – would you mind dropping another hint?
3. Do you guys plan on announcing anything at Gamescom? Scratch that, are you guys going to Gamescom is a better way to word it.
4. Lastly, does any of Rare’s vast teams have any projects that are controller-based, or don’t have Kinect as required? Don’t leave the core hanging.
A: 1) She’s an elf, she just hangs around with fairies. Hey, nobody told us she would die if we didn’t put her in a game for a few years. Legally we’re in the clear.
2) Rumours are rumours, mang. PD XBLA did well for itself, but there were never any conditions attached. First-party games are moving more and more towards Kinect integration, but if there is an opening for us to do something controller-based, it could be ruddy anything.
3) Can’t say for sure, but it seems likely that we’ll follow a similar pattern to last year and rock up to most of the big shows with a shedload of Sports.
4) You know we can’t tell you that, Dave. Stop, Dave. Will you stop? Daisy… Daisy… give me your answer… dooooooo…