Cake! We forgot to address the urgent social issues of the day by bringing in tons of cake last month. Next time. Definitely next time. October? Caketober.
While most of September’s Rare press activity swirled around Kinect Sports Ultimate Collection – its launch day, its trailer and its hip and banging college tour, assuming young people still use those exact terms – momentum also built behind recruitment as we continue to marshal our forces for the next big thing. Word was spread of opportunities including Network and Gameplay Engineering through the futuristic trumpet of social media, and our first staff profile in a while settled on Tools Engineering to form another facet of a software-focused September. But if you find all that stuff boring, someone also sent in a humorous picture of Jet Force Gemini on XBLA. Kind of.
Outside the loop of our immediate in-house schemes and plans, Rare Gamer rallied round the proud standard of Top Fives to deliver on Rare Arcade References, Unlucky Characters and Awesome Tanks, while RFDB rolled up their Rare commercial collections into one mighty whole. Elsewhere, The Completionist tore through the fundamentals of Diddy Kong Racing in approximately 17 minutes, Zero1Gaming pottered around in gaming gardens including one of ours, and Dorkly locked and loaded some of the best ever multiplayer maps.
It was also a month of Twitter two-fers, with two Rare-inspired comic strip outings, two quality snippets of translated Kinect Sports: Season Two reviews, two instances of unsolicited end-of-week education, two film-related Kinect Sports retweets, two overheard workplace comments and (at least) two raised glasses on the 30th birthday of Ultimate Play the Game. And among those posts not so easily paired up were the latest Minecraft Skin Pack giveaway, a belated Revels outburst, a vengeful cat and someone getting excitable about KI3.
Sirs and madams, it ends there. You know where to find us for more frequent updates: on Twitter as RareLtd, on Facebook as RareLtd and KinectSportsOfficial, or round the back of Somerfield in Ashby de la Zouch selling insider secrets (and stale cake) at very reasonable rates if you know how to do the special handshake.
The first casualty of social media is cake. No cake pictures for months. We’ll try to fix that next time, but right now here’s our retrospective recce of the Rare social media landscape throughout August.
Plenty of bases to cover too, not just Rare’s Minecraft Skin Pack 2 invasion and Kinect Sports: Season Two‘s role in the G3 Celebrity Game With Fame and Play to Give charity campaigns; we also added more new positions to our contract and permanent vacancies, had Software Manager Bjorn dispensing recruitment tips in Develop, and to round off the month Season Two boosted the desirability factor of the Xbox Family Fun bundle for anyone looking to kit up with the best of Xbox 360 and Kinect in one fell swoop. We even raided the supply depot for another Skin Pack 1 code giveaway on the same day. Court martial that!
Campaigns of the past were remembered in a wide range of Rare (and Ultimate) retrospectives over the course of August, from Eurogamer‘s salute to Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts all the way back 24 years to Knight Lore in the words of CVG, by way of Digital Spy‘s DKC remembrance and at least three GoldenEye lookbacks courtesy of Register Hardware, Destructoid and 1UP. A recap of Ultimate’s games on Commodore 64 helped mark the machine’s 30th anniversary, while Battletoads popped up not once but twice, with a sighting of the elusive arcade version posted on Reddit followed by a NES completion attempt in cult Japanese series Game Center CX.
Meanwhile, the long-serving fansite battalion formed up to roll out features based on Rare Kings and Queens, GBC and GBA commercials, plot holes, bad aliens, side-scrollers and unhappy endings, grotty bosses, melodies, bad schools and wastes of time. Heck of a tour of duty this month, soldiers.
Other points of social media engagement throughout August included the loss of a couple of national institutions, Peter Dickson at the Olympics, outdoor meetings, edible eyeballs, misguided mail and Ninja Turtles. And let’s not forget the outcome of the latest community poll: we asked you to choose your favourite Kinect Sports: Season Two add-on pack, and quickly saw the Basketball Challenge Pack tear into the lead with a winning 26% of the vote. Maple Lakes and Midnight Mountain came joint second on 21%, Challenge Packs #1 and #2 bringing up the rear with 16% apiece. No runaway victory for the freebies! Who’d have thought?
That’s it for another month: to enrol for active duty on the social media frontline, flush us out on Twitter or in one of our Facebook guises (currently Rare and Kinect Sports). Otherwise, take four weeks’ leave then get back here in full dress uniform for the September situation report. Dismissed!
New intro! Right then. July, eh? Bit mad.
As we watched the world roll by through the starboard windows of our stately social media airship, we witnessed such events as Kinect Sports: Season Two dropping neatly into the framework of Kinect PlayFit even as its DLC conveniently went half-price, while both Sports and its sequel were spotted in a variety of social scenarios across the world – by mechanics, with dads and like a boss for starters. We also kitted out some intrepid reps, lowered the rope ladder and sent them down south for the Develop conference and up north for Dare to be Digital, all the while advertising for a regiment of new positions to strengthen the Rare fleet even further.
Meanwhile, to mark the emergence of a Honey Bear and esteemed colleagues in Minecraft for Xbox 360 via the release of Skin Pack 1, codes for the pack were given away more than once despite some terrible setbacks. The unveiling of Rare’s first Minecraft presence took place in three stages over a couple of weeks: first MS blog PlayXBLA revealed the bear himself, then we spilled the beans on all his mates/non-mates, and only a few days later came the timely launch of the pack itself. But is it actually Banjo & co. mucking about in the Minecraft world, or just a collection of skins for ‘Steve’? DK Vine battled manfully with this conundrum.
July was a fine vintage for third-party listage: IGN’s Top 50 Video Game Makers had a slot for Rare, Diddy Kong cartwheeled into Virgin Media Games’ pick of videogaming child heroes, Digital Spy backed Perfect Dark for a movie interpretation and Games Radar labelled ’90s Rare brawler Battletoads Double Dragon a “bizarre crossover”. As if. Prolific fansites Rare Gamer and RFDB also buzzed with activity – the former grappling with the triple horrors of the Top 5 Rare Zombies, Fiendish Faces and Evil Veg then taking on a double bill of Most Difficult and Most Useless achievements, while the latter escorted their Rare commercial compilations into the ages of Game Boy, Xbox and Xbox 360.
To give a broad cross-section of events back at the Rare HQ airship dock, it rained a bit, rained a bit more, we watched the Olympics opening ceremony, got some strange email, did performance reviews, kept an eye on the fizzy drink situation, inserted cheese into game titles, lamented the fading influence of ’80s arcade games and pestered Viva Piñata artist Ryan to draw us a Bunnycomb on his lunch break.
One final office move marked the passing of July and the recalibration of our social media steampunk astrolabe for another month. Drift with us on the thermals of August via Twitter and/or Facebook, where we do double time as Rare and Kinect Sports. For those who have no patience with the quickfire cadence of the modern world, this summary will reoccur in a month’s time. There will be whimsicality and flippancy and baseless analogies and you are most welcome to join in.
Good old June, inspirational first full month of summer. That’s why there are so many characters, songs and cultural items named after it, like Junebug, June Sarpong, Terry & June, June is Bustin’ Out All Over and June Brown. You know, Dot from EastEnders. Is that good enough for an intro? No? I’m not surprised, it’s a rip-off of last month’s.
Anyway, rain was the theme as we came staggering, drenched, out of the back end of June. Rain, rain, rain. Thankfully there were more motivational things to talk about in the preceding weeks. Worthy charities benefited from the Xbox Summer Stadium and RED(RUSH) Games, while competitive maniacs benefited from an update to the Kinect Sports: Season Two world records. We listed a whole stack of new jobs, dispatched Dave to talk Kinect to Gamasutra and found time to appear on Hollyoaks, apparently. Meanwhile, that juicy mid-month Xbox LIVE Games on Demand sale brought us some nice bits of feedback on Xbox 360 launch titles Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero.
Down the sun-dappled road into fansite country, RFDB took a look back at some Rare game TV ads in the SNES, N64 and GC eras, while Rare Gamer fed the keywords ‘Intro’, ‘Cow’ and ‘Minion’ into their Top 5 list machine. Broader coverage turned up a Captain Skyhawk remix, of all things, along with PD GBC peering over the parapet in PC World’s look at the best console to handheld franchises.
Getting our grubby mitts on some Season Two All Access Pass codes to dish out led to the first of two competitions in June; the second was to celebrate storming past the 25,000 Twitter follower milestone. Together with our company fun day, all the camaraderie almost made us forget about the chilling image we were sent to mark Banjo‘s 14th birthday, and of course the ever-present menace of our haunted parking space, clearly pictured here.
And then we were done, and it was July, and by the time you read this we’re confident that the sun will have remembered it has technically been summer for some time now. Why not see if this hope bears fruit by tracking us on Twitter – or, if you’re the Facebook type, drizzle your impish Likes over Rare or Kinect Sports. See you in next month’s round-up, where a new idea for an intro is 68% guaranteed.
Yessir. Time to see how your performances have improved since we posted the first set of Season Two records back in March. And it’s looking good, with quite a few scores sharpened up! For this edition we’ve also added activities from Challenge Pack #2 and the Basketball Challenge Pack, giving you even more big numbers to lock into your sights.
Just like the earlier records, most of these scores and times were logged during online play as the servers can’t generally track offline results. In the cases of any impossible-looking results or gaps in the data, we conferred with the sports’ designers and testers to either fine-tune the figures to something more plausible or substitute some of our testers’ top accomplishments.
If you’ve got proof (e.g. video, photo, uploaded to Facebook) that you’ve crushed one of these scores or times, send it our way and we’ll see how it stacks up!
Good old May, inspirational last full month of spring. That’s why there are so many characters, songs and cultural items named after it, like Nuts in May, Maggie May, Peter Parker’s Aunt May, Brian May and Devil May Cry. Is that good enough for an intro? No? It’s all you’re getting.
So what was heating up the Rare sociosphere throughout May 2012? Now you’re asking. Besides the All Access Pass, Develop award nod, PALA participation and Game My Summer promotion with its Candy Sports game and laser-bright custom consoles, Kinect Sports: Season Two also filled up our latest subscriber newsletter with that indefatigable DLC catalogue, while YouTube highlights included 20 minutes of Brazilian Quick Play mascot grudge match action and the winning, if slightly unsettling, tactics of Coach Ted. The original Kinect Sports also resurfaced not only in the Xbox 360 Celebration Pack but in spirit on Britain’s Got Talent, apparently.
The ’90s came bouncing back in many disparate ways: a soothing DKC remix as a backdrop to Marty from 1UP’s efforts to convince his colleagues that DKC was better than SMB; GoldenEye-era Bond showing up in a multi-game instakill re-enactment as seen on Game Informer; Spike from Blast Corps making an unlikely VO ‘comeback’; a Banjo-Kazooie fan blog stuffed with arty tributes; and a cuss-fest Jimquisition piece on Viva Piñata being the best-looking game of a generation. Alright, that’s not from the ’90s. It fits better in this paragraph though.
List features came in thick and fast from Rare Gamer and the newly rebranded RFDB, with Top 5 Terrors of the Deep, Oddball Sports, Doomed Cruises, Stubborn and Pushover Bosses, Rare DJs and Pointless Collectibles alongside timely Top 7 lists of Rare Mothers, Veterans and Villains (challenged by Twitter-based Ultimate loyalists, who probably appreciated this dusty bit of fanart more than most). Other subjects touched upon, collided with and tripped over: Fable Heroes! Tweet milestones! Haiku reviews! Blooding knuckles! Loud honeycombs! Social media gold.
And finally, the irregular Community poll results: according to our vertical slice of the collective internets, the Season Two sport with the finest set of activities (pre-Challenge Pack #2) is Golf, after a late surge put it way ahead of Tennis with 33% of the vote compared to Tennis’ 26%. Coming in behind were Baseball, Darts, American Football and Skiing. People obviously enjoy a bit of Ocean Driver – even after we took the mascots off the targets so you couldn’t drown them. Get behind your favourite add-on pack in the new poll!
Goodbye, then, to May with its thoughtful double bill of British bank holidays, at least when there’s not a Jubilee on. To see the events of June occur in real-time like Jack Bauer’s life but with less terrorism and stabbing, stalk us on Twitter or Facebook (at Rare or Kinect Sports). 58… 59… 00.
Quick! Thanks to the bank holiday weekend it’s practically June already. Let’s get this April Twitter & Facebook round-up ‘live’ on the ‘wire’.
So, last month’s key newsworthy events were our Creative Director hire and launch of the Kinect Sports: Season Two Basketball Challenge Pack, which also took up position at PAX East over the Easter weekend and as a GameStop incentive for Season Two toe-dippers. Elsewhere, the original Kinect Sports reared its head on The Apprentice here in the UK, Season Two manifested in bargainous forms across the ultrawebs and Lionhead’s Fable Heroes roped in musical shenanigans from Rare composers old and new.
It was a month of anniversaries, from SNES to Speccy, informing many of the traditional Rare list appearances (or Ultimate in the case of NowGamer’s Top 30 Spectrum Games). GamesRadar’s Week of Love stuck cartoon hearts on a whole range of systems, with some of our retro stars popping up in lists from N64 to NES. Perfect Dark took potshots at Game Informer’s Essential XBLA List and Guyism’s Video Games Ahead of Their Time, while CVG reserved several Rare-shaped slots in their 100 best videogame themes. Oh, and 1UP looked back at Jet Force Gemini while Achievement Hunter did a similar thing with Viva Piñata. The lists and features didn’t end there, but we’ll spare you further paragraph-distending distress – just a quick nod to Rareware Archives (now Rare Gamer) and their coverage of rabbits, reboots and games within games.
Amidst the rest of the social bustle, Kinect Sports: Season Two got a sport-by-sport YouTube playthrough with its predecessor appearing in the context of lectures, bets, grannies and headbutts; our own Mr. Beanland marked a service milestone while Skynet and phishers alike tried to get one over on us; and the bear and bird apparently opened a restaurant somewhere in the world even as we shared an unrequested Pie Day photo (to accompany a BAFTA/banana combo shot from the Rare hallways). To round off the month, some people got psyched up by the notion of a hypothetical all-star MS fighting game, and we probably didn’t help.
And that was the gist of April. May’s conversational wildflowers are already budding like good ‘uns; you can track the tomfoolery on Twitter or follow the flippancy on Facebook (at Rare or Kinect Sports). Catch you there or right back here in a month.
A couple of weeks into the life of the Kinect Sports: Season Two Basketball Challenge Pack, here’s a bundle of encouraging comments and feedback that we’ve found strewn from one end of the internet (yes, it does have ends) to the other. Showering our Basketball mascot Dunky Dino with praise and constructive criticism is all that prevents him from going feral.
Kinect Sports: Season Two add-on satiates basketball jones (XboxKinectFans)
Dunk Some Baskets in Kinect Sports: Season 2 (TrueAchievements)
Basketball DLC added to Kinect Sports Season 2 (Capsule Computers)
Kinect Sports: Season Two Basketball Challenge Pack DLC Review (The Controller Online)
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