Rare Ltd. is a British video game development studio based in Twycross, Leicestershire, England. The origins can be traced back to 1982 when Tim and Chris Stamper founded Ultimate Play the Game. The studio saw early success on personal computers like the ZX Spectrum with titles like Jetpac, Atic Atac, Sabre Wulf, and Knight Lore. However, the team realized that the Spectrum was only popular in the U.K. and decided to branch out into other markets. The team decided to focus on the new Famicom and created a subsidiary called Rare in 1985 to reverse engineer the hardware to learn its inner workings, something Nintendo claimed to be impossible. After impressing Nintendo with its tech demos, Rare was granted unlimited budget for developing Famicom games, now called the Nintendo Entertainment System in the PAL region. At this time, the team decided to sell the Ultimate Play the Game brand to U.S. Gold and officially renamed the whole company to Rare. A string of successful NES releases followed, including R.C. Pro-Am, Snake Rattle 'n' Roll, and Battletoads, as well as several licensed games and being outsourced for console ports of PC games.
In 1994, Rare acquired several SGI computers and used them to create a boxing game tech demo, which eventually became Killer Instinct. Nintendo was so impressed with this demo that they would purchase a 49% stake in the company, making Rare a second-party developer. Nintendo would entrust Rare with the Donkey Kong license, which resulted in the Donkey Kong Country series, as well as the Donkey Kong Land series on Game Boy. Rare would go into what many consider their "golden age" during the lifespan of the Nintendo 64, with titles likep Blast Corps, GoldenEye 007, Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, and Conker's Bad Fur Day. Another game in development for Nintendo 64 was Dinosaur Planet alongside many projects for GameCube, but all of those titles were canceled and Nintendo asked Rare to turn Dinosaur Planet into a Star Fox game. This was done because Rare was in talks with several other companies to be bought out in full. On September 23rd, 2002, Star Fox Adventures, Rare's last Nintendo game, was released on the GameCube. One day later, Rare was fully acquired by Microsoft.
Now a part of Microsoft, Rare would make games exclusively for Xbox and PC. These titles include Grabbed by the Ghoulies, Conker: Live & Reloaded, Kameo: Elements of Power, Viva Piñata, and Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts. Rare would also collaborate with Nintendo and THQ to publish several games for Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS based on their existing franchises. Rare would then almost exclusively make sports games for Kinect with the only original titles being Sea of Thieves and the upcoming Everwild, along with involvement in the reboots of Killer Instinct and Battletoads as well as the Rare Replay collection. While none of the titles under Microsoft were financial failures, none have reached the critical and financial success of their creations under Nintendo.
Rare is credited for the modern version of of Donkey Kong for virtually all of his future video game appearances and were the original creators of four characters that appeared as fighters in the Super Smash Bros. series: Diddy Kong, King K. Rool, Banjo and Kazooie. They lost the rights to the Donkey Kong franchise on September 24th, 2002 due to being entirely acquired by Microsoft. All music sourced or rearranged in Smash that Rare originally composed credit them for their compositions, even after the Microsoft buyout.
Donkey Kong, who saw a resurgence in popularity upon the release of Rare's Donkey Kong Country, appears in the original Super Smash Bros., taking his design from said game. Congo Jungle, a stage based on various levels in Donkey Kong Country, appears as Donkey Kong's home stage. Additionally, the Motion-Sensor Bomb, an explosive device from the pivotal 1997 shooter game, GoldenEye 007, also developed by Rare, appears in Smash 64.
Donkey Kong returns in Melee, representing his universe alongside numerous content originating from Rare games. Congo Jungle reappears as a Past Stage, while Kongo Jungle and Jungle Japes are two new stages from Rare's Donkey Kong Country. Characters from the Donkey Kong Country series such as Dixie Kong and King K. Rool appear as trophies in Melee. The Barrel Cannon, which debuted in Donkey Kong Country, appears as an item and stage element. The Motion-Sensor Bomb returns, keeping its GoldenEye 007 appearance in international releases of Melee, while resembling the design of and being called the Proximity Mine from Rare's Perfect Dark in the Japanese version of the game. The Cloaking Device from Perfect Dark serves as another new item. Members of Rare's staff acted as voice actors for the Star Fox Smash Taunt in Melee, later reprising their roles in Star Fox Adventures. These voice clips would return in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Donkey Kong makes his third appearance in the Smash Bros. series, being joined by Diddy Kong, who first appeared in Donkey Kong Country. Their respective Final Smashes are based on abilities from Rare's Donkey Kong 64. Jungle Japes returns as a Melee Stage. Numerous trophies of characters from Rare's Donkey Kong games cameo as collectible trophies in Brawl, including King K. Rool, Dixie Kong, Funky Kong, and Lanky Kong. Many of these characters have Stickers as well. Trophies and stickers representing characters from Star Fox Adventures, a Star Fox game developed by Rare, appear as well.
Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong are both veterans in Smash 4. Familiar stages from Rare's Donkey Kong Country return, with Congo Jungle and Jungle Japes appearing on the Wii U and 3DS versions of the game, respectively. Aside from the trophies of characters from the Donkey Kong and Star Fox universes originating from Rare-developed games returning from Brawl, King K. Rool appears as a DLC costume for the Mii Brawler.
Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong both return as veterans with King K. Rool appearing as a newcomer. Klaptrap, an enemy type from the original Donkey Kong Country, appears as the series' first Assist Trophy. Kongo Jungle (now known as Kongo Falls), Jungle Japes and Kongo Jungle 64 all return as famliar stages. The King K. Rool outfit for the Mii Brawler returns, along with an additional Mii hat based on Dixie Kong's beret and ponytail that's available for all Mii Fighter types. Additionally, Krystal - appearing as she does in the Rare-developed Star Fox Adventures - debuts as an Assist Trophy. Multiple Rare-created Donkey Kong and Star Fox characters also appear as Spirits. Banjo & Kazooie also make their debut as a DLC playable fighter in Fighters Pass Vol. 1, along with an accompanying Spiral Mountain stage and multiple Banjo-Kazooie-themed Spirits. Notably, they are the first fighter created for an original series by Rare to appear in Smash (as opposed to created for an existing Nintendo series), as well as the first form of original Rare content altogether to appear in Smash since the Microsoft buyout. Rare's logo makes an appearance on Banjo's backpack when it is opened.