During my dinner with Shane Kim and Kudo Tsunoda I started talking with Kim about Rare's relatively checkered history with Microsoft.
In the late 90s Rare established themselves as a top-tier studio, producing such classics as GoldenEye and Donkey Kong Country for Nintendo. But in 2002, Microsoft bought up the company and prepared to have the studio start work on some of the marquee titles for their upcoming Xbox 360.
I told Kim that back before the Xbox 360 launched I had heard that Rare's Perfect Dark Zero was meant to be the platform's launch title, the reason gamers would take notice of the 360 and decide to buy into the new platform.
When the game finally hit, with the launch of the 360 and Rare's other title Kameo, it was met with a mixed reception, certainly not the sort that Microsoft had bet on.
Is Rare, I asked Kim, a developer that better suited to the audience and platforms of Nintendo gaming?
The short answer, Kim said, is no. But he did acknowledge that Rare hasn't yet met it's full potential on the Xbox 360. Neither Perfect Dark Zero or Kameo were the massive hits that Microsoft expects and Viva Pinata, he said, was a game that attracted a casual audience but was much deeper than that sort of gamer expected or was interested in playing.
But Rare's upcoming titles could turn that around. Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise, for instance, hopes to fix that disconnect between the audience it attracted and its accessibility by adding online and local co-op and tweaking gameplay.
And while Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts isn't a true sequel to the franchise, its concept, a vehicle platformer, was entirely the idea of Rare and its developers.
Hopefully today will give me a chance to see if Rare has been able to turn it around and get back to making games like Goldeneye rather than Grabbed By The Ghoulies.