Rare Ltd

Avatar Sports [Xbox 360 – Prototype]

Avatar Sports was a sports game in development at Rare Ltd. in 2007 / 2008 before Kinect development started. It used an unpublished motion controller that can be compared to the Wii Remote. Little is known about this title apart from the use of Microsoft’s Avatars and the inclusion of tennis. Development was halted when the motion controller was abandoned and first Kinect/Natal prototypes emerged. Rare then started to create their Kinect Sports, released in november 2010.

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Grabbed by The Ghoulies [Beta – Xbox]

Grabbed by The Ghoulies is an action game that was developed by Rare and released for the original Xbox in 2003. As we can read on Wikipedia, before any details of the game were publicised, it was widely considered that Grabbed by the Ghoulies would be the subtitle to the next Conker the Squirrel game, after Conker’s Bad Fur Day. The game was originally intended to be a much larger in scope open-world platformer but due to the Microsoft buyout in 2002 and time constraints a simpler design and concept was adopted.

Grabbed by The Ghoulies was initially going to be released on the Nintendo GameCube and in the final Xbox game you can unlock a trailer from E3 2001, that should show the project when it was still on the Nintendo console (you can find it below). Thanks to Rareware Archives we can see many concept arts and beta screens, that show early designes of the characters, unused enemies and other interesting differences. As we can read in their description for the Grabbed by The Ghoulies beta 2001 video:

A lot has certainly changed from the game we’re familiar with, as the video includes a few cut enemies mucking about, early working models for the Zombie Ghoulies and Coopers girlfriend Amber and a surprise from Gweneth, the sneering Ghouly at the end, who was ultimately cut as well.

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Butcher [Xbox 360 – Prototype]

The Butcher was one of many character prototypes created by Rare Ltd. in 2008. When the company’s direction shifted to Kinect software, all work on this prototype was abandoned. Currently we don’t know what kind of game Rare planned to use the Butcher into, or even if it would ever be used in some commercial project. As far as we know, this could have been a character study, without any gameplay connected at all. Only a few images and animations remain, to preserve the existence of this project.

Thanks to Moren for the contribution!

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Kinect Sports [Prototype / Concept – Xbox 360]

Kinect Sports (codenamed Natal Sports) was Rare Ltd. first Kinect title. Development started in late 2008 and fully started in early 2009 when the studio was restructured to fully focus on Kinect Software. It was Rare’s second try to produce a sports title on Xbox 360, their first attempt used an unreleased motion controller, similar to the Wii Remote, which remained unpublished.

Thanks to Moren for the contribution!

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Popcorn (Short Fuses) [PSX – Cancelled]

Popcorn is a cancelled action adventure game that was in development by Eighth Wonder in 1997 / 1998 for the original Playstation. In the nineties Rare was one of the most prolific developer on Nintendo platforms. So it was quite a shock when in 1997 a small number of employees (game designer Oliver Davies; software engineers Oliver Norton, Steve Patrick, and Jeff Stafford; and two artists, Christopher Gage and Adrian Smith later replaced by Andrew Wood and Jemie Hemming) left the company to form a new studio called Eighth Wonder funded by no other than Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Nintendo main competitor at the time.

The deal had SCEE committed to publishing the new development house’s first three titles, with an option to pick up the next three. The first title in the work by this promising studio was an action/adventure game named Popcorn (also known as Short Fuses) that was similar to a 3D Bomberman clone but with puzzles and exploration elements.

Popcorn featured six world themes, each with three levels and after you beat the boss of each world you could progress to the next one and use the boss as a playable character (more than 10 playable characters including the hidden ones were planned such as a knight or a female ninja). The games was said to sport nice lighting effects, high resolution graphics (512×240) and a consistent framerate at 30 FPS.

At E3 1998 the game displayed under the Sunsoft booth so it is likely that Sunsoft would have been the american publisher. However as often happen with very publicized deals that involve many projects, Eighth Wonder are believed to have experienced a number of internal problems and, by 1999, the studio no longer existed relegating Popcorn into obscurity.

Thanks to Celine for the scan! (Console+ magazine issue 78 and Edge issue 60)

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