At one time Rareware was one of the most beloved and most successful developers of titles on Nintendo systems. You could easily call them the “Beatles” of Nintendo’s developers stables for much of the time the two collaborated. It was amazing to see a small British gaming dev seemingly tackle every known game genre ( and even invent some new ones along the way) while raising the bar each time they tried something new. Every game they released seemed to be a smash hit. So well did these games resonate with fans that a recently published compilation game featuring 30 classic Rare titles for the Xbox One was met with much fanfare upon its reveal.
Through invigorating gameplay, mesmerizing graphics, and astonishingly brilliant musical scores they won their way into the hearts of fans the world over, so much so that Nintendo themselves bought out 49% of the company. Nintendo acted as something of a parent company to them, allowing them to work on games that featured some of their most beloved franchises, Donkey Kong and Star Fox; while still allowing them to develop their own intellectual properties in exchange for exclusivity.
While things have gone south for Rare in the past decade or so, their games are still held in great regard by Nintendo fans the world over. So, join TheAnvil and Spazzy_D as we look at their choices for the top 10 Rare owned characters that they’d like to see in Smash Bros.! (NOTE: We do not expect any of the following to get into Smash, this is purely for fun.)
10.Kuros – Wizards & Warriors
We’re going to start our list with a bit of an obscure choice, that being Kuros from Wizards and Warriors. This game may not be the first to come to mind when thinking of “Classic Rare,” but it was actually a fairly popular game in the NES era. The game did well enough to spawn 2 sequels on the NES and Kuros himself was a big enough deal to appear as one of the main characters on the cartoon show “The Power Team” – think of it as a second rate “Captain N.”
The first game in the series was a pretty standard platformer, with tight controls and a fun upgrade system for weapons. The plot was about as straight forward as you get, you played as Kuros, your standard knight style fantasy hero, who had to defeat the evil wizard Malkil and rescue the maiden fair. The pinnacle of the series, though, was Wizard and Warriors III, which was a full on Metroidvania that began with Kuros losing his power and memory. He had a wide variety of upgrades in that game that would make moveset potential no problem for this hero.
9.Rattle & Roll – Snake, Rattle & Roll.
Snake, Rattle & Roll is probably the most memorable of the NES Rare titles to me. I didn’t grow up with the NES, rather I played on my older brothers’ and they only had a few games for it. It was a great deal of fun, and one of the most difficult games I’ve ever played (thanks to those weird controls).
I always had a blast playing it, and the characters are oozing the old Rareware charm.
Plus the moveset potential for a Duo of Snakes just screams “unique”! Nibbley-Pibbley’s, anyone?
8.Horsetachio – Viva Piñata.
Rare is not the same studio that it was in it’s N64 heyday. Its output on the Xbox 360 has ranged from “decent” (Kameo) to “shames the previous game in the series” (Perfect Dark: Zero.) There’s still some magic left in the studio, though. Case in point: Viva Piñata. Viva Piñata. is a “life simulator” starring living Piñata. It is a charming game that has you attempt to attract these Piñata, most with hilarious names and interesting designs, to a barren plot of land in order to turn it into a vibrant garden. While many of these candy filled creatures are memorable, Horstachio is often used as the mascot of the series… and while this game isn’t an inherently violent game, I have faith that the team that made Animal Crossing’s Villager into a fighter could easily do the same for Horstachio.
7.Cooper Chance – Grabbed By The Ghoulies.
Ok so this game wasn’t technically on a Nintendo system, but it was developed for one, and it would have released on one if the “unfortunate incident” didn’t occur that led to Rare leaving Nintendo’s loving arms to the cold, steel grip of Microsoft. While this game has received something of a mixed reception by Rare fans, I have always found it to be a charming game.
The story cutscenes being told through a series of animations in a book-like format was an interesting take, and I loved the return to the hilarious gibberish noises that Rare had become so known for.
There’s a great variety of weapons for Cooper to use for his moveset, such as the Fire Extinguisher, the Broom, the Holy-Water-Squirter, the Soda-Pop gun, Ol’ Edna, the Cutlass and silly things like Hamburgers, pots, candles and Eggs…
Plus that intro theme has to be one of the all time greatest intro themes for any video game ever.
6.Jago – Killer Instinct
C-c-c-combo breaker! ULTRA! Killer Instinct has recently found new life on the Xbox One, but for Nintendo gamers that played during the SNES and N64 era, the series will always be “Nintendo’s fighting game.” The first game came out in 1994, towards the tail end of the fighting game boom of the 90s, and was a hit both in arcades and at home on the Super Nintendo. The series was fairly brutal, it didn’t have Mortal Kombat levels of gore, but it was definitely a hard hitting game. It also had some pretty unique ideas, like using a double health bar instead of having the fight broken up into rounds (ala Street Fighter) and automated combos that would continue after your button pressing had ended.
Jago is often seen as the “Ryu” of the series, acting as a mascot when there needs to be one. He is a Tibetan Monk, guided by the Tiger Spirit, who enter the Killer Instinct Tournament in order to destroy the evil it represents. Coming from a fighting game series, he has a wide variety of moves that fit well in the context of Smash. His Uppercut would likely work as a recovery, and his wide variety of kicks, fireballs, and of course his Laser sword would make him a formidable Smasher.
5.Bumper The Badger- Diddy Kong Racing.
As a kid I was enamoured with Diddy Kong Racing. It was brilliant. It made Mario Kart 64 look mediocre by comparison! There was so much to do, so many tracks. An adventure mode in a racing game?! No, TWO adventure modes! It introduced new ways to race, and to race in different ways simultaneously. To this day the gimmicks introduced in this game are often stolen by other kart-racing game makers. *Cough* Sega & All-Stars Racing Transformed *cough*.
The characters were all so brilliantly simple, so cute, and you knew that any one of these guys were ready to go off on their very own adventure. And you knew that if they did, the adventure would make for an incredible game.
Bumper was my go-to character. His adorable gloves, little goggles and badass belt made for a compelling character to try and take down the villainous Wizpig.
4.Joanna Dark – Perfect Dark
Joanna Dark is a character I am certain would have been in Smash already if not for Microsoft buying Rare. It’s a bit of shame that she’s not, actually, as Smash could certainly use more strong female characters. The Nintendo 64 was the system that really proved that the first person shooter could work on home consoles. That may seem like a strange thought in today’s market, where Nintendo doesn’t receive much shooter support and where the genre is extremely pervasive, but it is true. Prior to games such as Goldeneye and Turok, first person shooters were almost entirely in the domain of PC gaming. In a console known for its quality FPS titles, Perfect Dark was amongst the best.
Joanna is a super spy and weapons expert, and her games have a bit of a sci-fi slant to them. I would imagine she would draw a few parallels to both Snake and Zero Suit Samus, but Perfect Dark has plenty of alien tech that is unique to the series and would make her stand out. Oh, on a side note, the motion sensor bomb in the Japanese version of Melee was based around the proximity mine from Perfect Dark, so it would be fun to work it into her move set.
3.Conker The Squirrel – Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Conker’s Bad Fur Day is one of the most genius games ever made. In the midst of a revolution of 3D platformers populated by cutesy animal mascots, Conker took the idea and turned it on its head. Still a cutesy animal mascot, Conker was thrown into a world of equally cute and vulgar characters. Filled with Sex, swearing, blood, alcohol, urinating on fire, hitting balls and plenty of poo, Conker’s Bad Fur Day is truly a one of a kind game. In a “you’ve got to find tickly bees to make a giant sunflower reveal her big breasts so you can bounce on them to get cash” kind of way.
One of the greatest things about Conker’s gameplay was that it consistently found itself staying fresh by completely changing the settings and mechanics simultaneously. This gives Conker a great host of unique tools, weapons, and abilities for use in Smash.
Full of memorable and quirky characters, ridiculous settings, and some of the most outrageous dialogue of any game, ever, Conker is truly one of Rare’s greatest and most memorable creations.
2.Zitz/Rash – Battletoads
The late 80s and early 90s were a strange time. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles suddenly made being an anthropomorphic action hero a very cool thing, and a wave of copycats soon followed. You had your SWAT Kats, your Street Sharks, and even the most Extreme of Dinosaurs. This fad permeated every facet of “kid culture” at the time, and video games were no exception. Enter the Battletoads, cool, tough, and totally radical toad men that had to defeat the Dark Queen in order to save their friends, and also probably the universe or something. Sorry, I don’t remember what the resolution of the game was supposed to be since I, like 99% of the gaming population, could never beat the game. It was the very definition of “Nintendo hard”.
Besides being hard, though, the game was a very fun NES co-op beat-em-up. It spawned a few sequels that were a bit more forgiving difficulty wise and expanded on the co-op aspect of the original game. At the peak of their popularity the Toads had a team up with the Double Dragons (at a time where video game crossovers were exceedingly rare) and even had their very own pilot for a cartoon show.
The first game starred Zitz and Rash, who were just palette swaps of the same character. They had the same moves, the same attributes, and the same size and dimensions. Pimple became playable in later games, but he was always depicted as a big bruiser of a character. If any Battletoads were to be playable in Smash I would imagine it would be Rash with a Zitz costume swap. The toads would transform parts of their body in their games, and I imagine this would translate to Smash quite well. Giant boots, ram horns, weights on chains, and all the rest. The speed bike would make for a pretty amazing final smash, as well.
1.Banjo-Kazooie – Banjo-Kazooie
Was there any doubt? Banjo-Kazooie is the quintessential Rare IP. Taking what made Super Mario 64 so great, and expanding and improving upon it in a monumental fashion, Banjo-Kazooie became one of the most successful and beloved Nintendo 64 games. Rare followed up with an even more successful sequel in the form of Banjo Tooie (which remains one of the most successful 3rd Party games on any Nintendo system, ever). The Banjo Kazooie series is full of bizarre and beautiful characters, lush and preposterous levels, and catchy tunes that you’ll find yourself whistling along to nearly 20 years after you first heard them.
In addition to the two aforementioned titles, Banjo has seen 3 other titles in his repertoire. Those being Banjo Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge, a midquel 2D platformer set between Kazooie and Tooie. Nuts and Bolts, a sequel which shifted focus from platforming to a mission based vehicle building game. And finally Banjo Pilot, a spiritual successor to Diddy Kong Racing, the game that Banjo made his grand debut in. The duo has also made guest appearances in other titles, including being a strong selling point for the Xbox 360 version of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing With Banjo-Kazooie (try saying that 10 times fast).
Their moveset writes itself, with all of the different moves that they learn throughout their numerous adventures together. Whether it’s farting Eggs, a Clawswipe, a Rat-a-tat Rap, a Wonderwing, a Beak Barge or Talon Trotting. The list goes on and on, and the sheer amount of moves they have in their games paints the picture of one of the most unique and fun characters that could ever grace the Smash Bros. series.
Not only are Banjo-Kazooie characters with a huge legacy and significance to the gaming world, but they are as close to being Nintendo characters as humanly possible (without being owned by Nintendo themselves) as they populate the same canon universe as Mario and Donkey Kong (Conker and Bumper also share this interesting trait). Banjo has endeared so many people that the spiritual sequel kickstarter of Yooka-Laylee is the most backed video game kickstarter in UK history, and it met all of its initial stretch goals within the first 24 hours.
Banjo-Kazooie are unquestionably characters that would be in Smash Bros. by now if Rare and Nintendo had not parted ways, with Sakurai even considering them as characters as far back as Melee. Boasting a huge amount of fan support, and the blessing of the head of xbox, Phil Spencer, Banjo-Kazooie are the most plausible characters on this list to make their way into Smash one day.
Do you agree with our list? Which Rare-owned characters would you like to have seen in Super Smash Bros.? Let us know in the comments section below!