Before we go any further, we must stress that all the details are sketchy at the moment, and no-one is quite sure what to believe at the moment.
Rumours of Nintendo selling Rareware have been floating around for some time now, with everyman and his dog up for buying them (Sega, Activision, and Electronic to name but a few who cropped up), but no concrete evidence could be found to back these claims up...
...Until this week.
This week, It was claimed Microsoft had bought Rare off of Nintendo, with loss of evidence to back it up. Although no "official" announcement has been made, it's been all but confirmed, with people only arguing over the details.
Nintendo of Japan claimed that there was no Intention to sell Rare, but Nintendo of America said "Although Nintendo doesn't comment on rumours or speculation by the media, we can tell you that Nintendo has made the decision not to request Rare to make any further exclusive games for the Nintendo Gamecube." Nintendo of Europe, the main Rare contact for Nintendo, have refused to comment.
As for Rare itself, no official comment has been given, however, the views of some individual employees, who, for oblivious reasons, wish to remain anonymous, were collected by RareNet;
"Well, to be honest, you could
say I'm pretty bloody put about by the whole damn thing. You know, a few of us
knew something was coming for quite a while but still; you learn the ins and
outs of a certain system, it's quite technical, and then you suddenly thrust
onto a new one, with a half-finished game in your hand. Not my idea of fun,
"Well we're not really supposed to talk about it yet - if ever....but the short of it is that there is an extremely gray area. It's not straight forward yet. Nintendo is trying to keep most of the copyrights. In my opinion that's (censored), because we made the games. That's not how it works though. Shame for Diddy and those games though. Won't quite be the same, you know?"
"I'd probably get in a bit of
trouble around here for saying this but I don't really mind. Sure it'll be a
pain in the arse to make the switch, but I've been here for 10 years now. Change
is always good. Maybe even for RareNet! ha. ha."
"If bloody Birmingham City can draw Liverpool anything is possible!!"
"From what I have been reading
on your site and others, a lot of people seem to think we were obliged to
Nintendo and vice versa. Honestly, its fun to read some of the things...
dissenters they all yell! It's all business mate, and I can tell you that while
a good half of the guys here are a bit upset, just as many look forward to
working with the new system. Nothing will change with the quality. I do feel a
bit bad for anyone who bought the Nintendo box though."
"I'm glad to be out, really. I
wish them all the best but I really enjoy programming for the 'cube."
As you can see, it's a mixed bag, and it will be weeks, if not months, before the full story surfaces, but the official announcement is expected to be at Microsoft’s X02 Europe event in Seville, Spain on September 24th (The day after Starfox Adventures debuts).
But enough about that; how does it effect you?
Firstly, Starfox Adventures IS NOT EFFECTED. It will be coming out on the 23rd September, 27the September, and 22nd November in America, Japan, and Europe respectively. Nintendo own the Starfox licence, and as such, Starfox Adventures, and any other Starfox games, will be Gamecube Exclusive.
Next, all current Rare Gamecube games that were in development (Like Kameo; Elements of Power) will probably go exclusively to X-box. Game Boy Advance games (Like Banjo-Kazooie; Grunty's Revenge) will probably still be published, as Microsoft have an agreement with Nintendo allowing them to make GBA games.
As for who owns what game-wise, it becomes a bit of a grey area; Donkey Kong is owned by Nintendo, but just about everything else is owned by Rare (Including ACM compression, the core of the Donkey Kong County trilogy), so unless they come to a gentlemen's agreement, the next DK game will be vastly different. Who owns Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark is unclear, and as such, so is the future of both popular franchises.
All in all, a sad day for 'cube owners, as one of the most talented developers on it start batting for the opposition.