When Microsoft purchased Rare back in 2002, Rare had several titles in development still for the Game Boy Advance. Three of those were the Donkey Kong Country trilogy remakes that Nintendo was obligated to publish for obvious reasons. The other four titles included It’s Mr. Pants, Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge, Banjo Pilot, and a remake of Spectrum classic Sabre Wulf. Those last four Nintendo had no obligation whatsoever to publish because Rare was by then a fully owned Microsoft company. While Microsoft at the time didn’t mind Rare continuing to develop games for Nintendo’s handheld platforms, they were not going to publish though because that would have been sending the wrong message. So this sent Rare on the hunt to find someone who would be willing to publish the games and properly market them so they would actually sell once they hit store shelves. Enter THQ.
At some point in the games’ development cycles, an agreement was made between Rare and Darksiders/Saints Row/WWE developer THQ where THQ would handle the responsibilities of a publisher and Rare would continue the development process. The games were eventually finished and released to be purchased… assuming the games could be found! That is where THQ failed as being the proper publisher that I believe Rare deserved for their prestigious handheld efforts.
THQ deserves a lot of credit for stepping in and publishing Rare’s games when no one else would. Had they not, then the four aforementioned titles may have never seen the light of day! That would have been a disappointment to us all, wouldn’t you agree? Despite that, I can’t help to think that THQ could have done a much better job. Aside from maybe Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge, the games could have been marketed more heavily and should have had more units readily available for the consumer to purchase. I should never have had to hunt down newly released games such as Sabre Wulf and It’s Mr. Pants to buy them! The former I found in a now closed down game shop and the second I had to order online from some place selling the title on Amazon. Thanks, THQ, for publishing the games… now where do we buy them?
Fast forward a few years later and we face a similar situation Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise on the Nintendo DS. THQ once again stepped in to publish the game but it also wasn’t marketed and available as much as it could have been. Certainly more than the Game Boy Advance titles, but still not enough. It should have been handled better.
Whenever I think of the Rare and THQ years, it’s always some mixed bittersweet thoughts. Again, I’m very thankful for THQ for stepping in and doing what no one else would, but also a bit sour knowing they could done a better job. Rare deserved better and I believe if you look back, then you’ll think so too.