The first seeds of the company that would one day become Rare were sown way back in the late 1970s, amidst a clutter of arcade boards in a terraced house in Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire. Momentum was building for the first great home gaming boom of the early 80s, and Tim and Chris Stamper were determined to be ready for it. Thus was Ultimate – Play The Game born.

Ultimate was to attain a near-legendary status in the 8-bit world during its relatively brief existence, kicking off with the launch of Jetpac on its platform of choice, the Sinclair Spectrum, in the summer of 1983. It wast the first in a string of classics released between '83 and '86: games from this era such as Sabre Wulf, Underwurlde, Lunar Jetman and Knight Lore (a pioneering work in isometric 3D) still rank among the UK gaming industry's most influential titles.

But as the home computer market began to wane, the Stampers became aware that the future of the industry lay elsewhere – in the emerging breed of international consoles. Ultimate finally ground to a halt, and from its ashes rose Rare, based now in the nearby village of Twycross, set up primarily to study and develop for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Rare went on to produce a total of around 60 games for the NES and Game Boy (with occasional dabblings in the Mega Drive/Genesis and Game Gear markets) over the next few years, from Slalom to Marble Madness, RC Pro-Am to Battletoads. But it was Donkey Kong Country on the SNES, released in late 1994, which was to suddenly hurl Rare back into the limelight.

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Mar 22, 2010
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