Activision Almost Bought Rare in 2002

Back in 2002, many Nintendo fans were disappointed by one of the worst pieces of news in gaming history.

Microsoft had purchased Rare, and the likes of Banjo-Kazooie would probably not be seen on a Nintendo home console ever again.

Above: And Donkey Kong fans got this…

But did you know it could have been very different? That instead of Microsoft buying Rare, it could have been Activision that had done the deal!

Yes, as this comment by Xbox co-creator Ed Fries reveals, Microsoft’s buyout only succeeded due to a last minute increase in their bid:

So we put in a bid and then Activision outbid us, and it looked like we were going to lose the deal. And then at the very last minute Robbie increased our bid and we won the deal. And that was it. Who knows what could have happened with Rare.

But imagine if that last minute bid increase had never come. That Activision had bought out Rare from Nintendo. What would it have been like?

Probably a mixed bag to be honest.

On the one hand, it would mean that Rare would be free to release games on all platforms. Which for Nintendo fans would mean we’d get the likes of Banjo-Kazooie, Conker and Perfect Dark on the Gamecube, Wii and Wii U.

That’s especially good for news for Viva Piñata, Grabbed by the Ghoulies and Kameo, which underperformed due to their aesthetics and general themes being a poor fit for the Xbox. Okay, they may not have all sold fantastically, but you can imagine that more Nintendo fans would have tried them than Xbox or PlayStation owners.

Viva Piñata

Above: Perhaps not right for the Xbox

It’d also likely mean that their Kinect Sports phase would never happen. Activision has no interest in motion control gimmicks and wouldn’t force Rare to change everything like Microsoft did. So that’d be a positive point too. No long period of Wii Sports rip-offs here.

However, you can’t deny that Activision has a poor reputation for spamming sequels to popular franchises. I mean, they basically killed Guitar Hero by milking it to death in a few years. And well, we all know how they treat Call of Duty and Skylanders. As cash cows that needed to be milked every year on the dot.

This is not a good thing for Rare. Remember, Rare are infamous (to the point of rivalling Nintendo and Valve) for delaying their games to make them better. Heck, Diddy Kong Racing was basically only released when it was because Banjo-Kazooie wasn’t ready for the end of the year.

That wouldn’t sit well with Activision. For these folks, games are basically a merchandising business; get at least one title out per year, then release DLC packs and updates right up until the next one the year after. As a result, I suspect any Rare buyout by them would end up with us seeing a long string of mediocre Banjo games year after year with the hope being that it might become the next Spyro the Dragon or Crash Bandicoot.

Talking of Crash Bandicoot, I also suspect a Rare buyout by Activision would basically tie Rare’s IPs to Spyro and Crash more directly. For example, back in 2004 they released Crash Bandicoot Purple and Spyro Orange for the Game Boy Advance. These games had Dr Neo Cortex (Crash’s archenemy) team up with Ripto (Spyro’s archenemy) in a bit to defeat each others nemesises once and for all. If Activison owned Rare as well, I can see Banjo and Conker being involved in such a crossover deal too, with the likes of Gruntilda joining Neo Cortex and Ripto.

Spyro Orange

Crash Bandicoot Purpl

Above: Could Banjo have been in a game like this?

And then there’s Skylanders. Spyro and Crash got merged into that series in recent years, and it’s also become of their company’s biggest cash cows. With Rare owned by Activision, Banjo and Conker could be Skylanders too. Which would be a disaster for their fans, but good business for Activision as a whole.

Either way, Activision nearly ended up buying Rare.

Fortunately though, they didn’t. Releases on non Microsoft systems would not have made up for a glut of samey sequels to beloved classics or the franchises buried under waves of DLC.

Did Someone Try to Steal the Breath of the Wild Demo?

Since it was revealed, the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been received extremely well. Acclaimed by journalists and fans alike, the game was the most discussed title on social media during E3. Heck, it’s trailer is currently Nintendo’s most popular video ever!

Above: 6,401,639 views!

But it seems like the game’s story could have got even more interesting. Rumour has it that someone tried to steal the demo from E3. That a hacker involved in modding Mario Kart 8 tried to take the demo from the event and release it.

Here’s the story about it on Kotaku:

The Rumor That Someone Tried To Steal The Zelda: Breath of the Wild E3 Demo – Kotaku

How was he going to do this in an event with such high security?

By grabbing the game over the network as it’s being played of course! Yes, the Wii U hacking community apparently has tools to do that now (like TCP Gecko, which can connect the Wii U to a PC). This guy was supposedly going to get someone to distract the attendants, then secretly dump the game demo with one of those tools.

As you can imagine, this wouldn’t be as easy as expected. The games were running on demo units, so the code had to be rewritten to work with those. People were quickly being cycled to the demo and out again, so the process had to be quick. The consoles weren’t connected to the internet, so that had to be setup in secrecy as well.

He then apparently ran out of time, and that was the end of the story.

But is it real?

Kotaku themselves provides some claims backing up both possibilities. There’s a Wii U software developer quoted as saying it’s plausible (albeit difficult to confirm). There’s the creator of the TCP Gecko saying the story is plausible. And there’s talk of the hackers talking about similar things on Twitter (albeit without any links to prove it).

So it’s not completely outside of the realm of possibility.

However, I’m still sceptical here.

Continue Reading…

Aonuma Tried to Give Link a Gender Neutral Design?

As we likely all know by now, Link will be male in The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. There are no options related to this, no extra playable characters… it is only possible for Link to be male in this game.

But did you know Aonuma was going for a more ‘gender neutral’ design for him in this game? Yes really. Here’s what he said on the matter in an interview with TIME magazine:

Back during the Ocarina of Time days, I wanted Link to be gender neutral. I wanted the player to think ‘Maybe Link is a boy or a girl.’ If you saw Link as a guy, he’d have more of a feminine touch. Or vice versa, if you related to Link as a girl, it was with more of a masculine aspect. I really wanted the designer to encompass more of a gender-neutral figure. So I’ve always thought that for either female or male players, I wanted them to be able to relate to Link.

During the development of Twilight Princess, I went a different route and created a version of Link that was more masculine. But after Twilight Princess I went back to the drawing board and decided Link should be a more gender-neutral character. Hence I created the version of Link that you see in Breath of the Wild. As far as gender goes, Link is definitely a male, but I wanted to create a character where anybody would be able to relate to the character. So that’s why I think the rumor went around that Link could be a female. Because maybe the users were able to relate in that way.

Link with a bow and arrow

So while Link is definitely male, he’s designed in a way to appeal to players of both genders. Hopefully that stops a bit more of the criticism towards the lack of gender options in the game.


Next Link May Not Be a Girl, But He’s Androgynous by Design – TIME

Is a Fake Nintendo Employee Taking Down Fan Works?

Recently, there has been a bit of an increase in Nintendo fan works being removed from file hosting sites via DMCA notices. These notices are attributed to someone calling themselves ‘Jason Allen’, and have been responsible for the take downs of one Super Mario Fusion Revival demo, Ocarina of Time 2D, many Mario Kart custom tracks and the Dolphin emulator.

But if renowned Super Mario 64 hacker Kaze Emanuar is to be believed, the person taking down all these recent fan works might not be a Nintendo employee at all! Instead, they could just be a bored troll using fake claims to make sites like Mediafire and Dropbox remove works that Nintendo themselves may not have any real problems with.
Here’s the video where he discusses the situation:

Didn’t want to watch it? Want a bit more detail about what’s going on? If so, it seems to be as follows.

Basically, an unknown internet user is using the email address and name of a person called Jason Allen, and pretending that they’re a Nintendo lawyer with the rights to remove works based on Nintendo’s IPs.

However, there are some interesting things wrong here.

Firstly, the imposter doesn’t seem to be very good at proof reading his fake legal demands. How do we know that? Because previous attempts have actually had him misspelling the word ‘Nintendo’ as ‘Nintento’. That’s either a very sloppy, careless mistake for a lawyer or a clear sign of someone rushing to fill in the fields and not giving a toss about all the ridiculous errors he’s making in the process.

It also quite clearly goes against what Nintendo said about fan projects. Remember, back in 2010, Iwata said he didn’t want to ‘criminalise’ fans:

Of course, we cannot say that we can give tacit approval to any and all the activities which threaten our intellectual properties. But on the other hand, it would not be appropriate if we treated people who did something based on affection for Nintendo, as criminals. It is true that some expressions are detrimental enough to diminish the dignity of our intellectual properties, and others destroy our intellectual properties’ world-views by connecting them with something not based on fact. We think one of the criteria for deciding how to respond is whether the expression in question socially diminishes the dignity or value of our intellectual properties or not. Of course, it is very hard to have a blanket standard as this problem involves many complex elements that are very difficult to judge.

In response to a question on Nintendo’s attitude towards fan projects. Yet this Jason Allen guy is ruthlessly trying to take down everything even remotely Nintendo related.

People have reported custom Mario Kart tracks and characters being removed. Fan games being removed. Heck, we’ve even seen cases where music based on Undertale (which Nintendo doesn’t own) is being taken down by this guy!.

This all points to someone trying to mess around with video game fans, not a legitimate lawyer who knows what they’re doing.

He also doesn’t identify the copyrighted work which is being infringed upon. Another important aspect of a legitimate DMCA notice which is being left out here.

But most importantly, Jason Allen does not work at Nintendo any more.

Edit: It’s likely the Jason Allen referred to is the one below:

He also doesn’t have anything to do with Nintendo any more. His profile says he’s worked as an Internet Specialist in Global Product and Cyber Security, but he hasn’t been there since October 2015. It’s also unknown whether this role includes sending take down notices for copyright infringement related events.

So whoever is taking down these projects is using the name of an ex Nintendo employee who never actually worked in their legal department, misspelling the company name and sending floods of notices about works that either Nintendo doesn’t care about or that are associated with IPs not actually owned by Nintendo.

He’s also using fake information on his DMCA notices, which is very legally questionable in of itself.

Either way, this is likely a copyright troll that’s going around and taking down Nintendo fan works under false pretences. And its quite possible that this includes most of the items on my list of Nintendo Fan Works Shut Down by Nintendo. Nintendo isn’t killing as many fan projects as people believe, a copyright troll impersonating an ex Nintendo employee is.

More Information

Jason Allen Nintendo bogus DMCA claim – CapnCoconuts on Pastebin

A New Kind of Mario Game is Coming in a Year or Two?

It’s only been three years since Super Mario 3D World, but it seems like we’re already about to see the next Mario platformer! Here’s Shigeru Miyamoto’s comment about a new Mario game, straight from a recent IGN interview:

we’re always challenging ourselves to create something new, so hopefully you’ll see a new kind of Mario in about a year or two.

Maybe next E3 we’ll be able to share something.

So what is this ‘new kind of Mario’? Well, the Nintendo fanbase has been kind of split in regards to that question.

On the one hand, some people are thinking it might be something akin to a Mario 64 style 3D platformer. You know, more open levels with multiple stars to collect in any order, except with shiny HD graphics. Which makes sense; there’s certainly demand for that sort of game now.

However, it’s not the only possibility. For example, could this mean another genre hybrid instead? Like a Mario First Person Shooter or a Mario Action Adventure akin to the Zelda series? Maybe, it’d certainly be a ‘new kind of Mario’.

It’s also quite possible that it could refer to the content or tone instead. Perhaps its an ultra violent M rated Mario title. That’d be pretty original, at least for an official Nintendo game. Or maybe it just drops most of the current characters (Peach, Bowser, traditional enemies, Toads) and introduces a whole new setting. Imagine seeing Mario get a full blown dark reboot!

Above: Or maybe like that.

Or it could just mean a few new powrups or stuff. After all, one of Miyamoto’s previous quotes about the future of Mario was:

Who knows what Mario will look like in the future? Maybe he’ll wear metallic clothes!

And lo and behold, five years later we got Metal Mario:

Sm64 metal mario

So anything could happen here. Anything from a full blown Mario reboot to an extra power up or two in a traditional Mario platformer.

But what do you think? What is this ‘new kind of Mario’ that Miyamoto is referring to?


E3 2016: Nintendo: ‘A New Kind of Mario’ Is Coming – IGN