Rare, also called Rare Limited, Rare Coin-It, and Rareware, is a British video game developer founded in 1985 by brother Tim Stamper and Chris Stamper. They have developed several very popular franchises including Battletoads, Donkey Kong Country, James Bond games, Banjo-Kazooie, Killer Instinct, Wizards & Warriors, and Perfect Dark.
The company began just prior to the brothers selling their first company, Ultimate Play the Game, because they wanted to break into the home console market. They reversed-engineered the Famicom and put together a tech demo to show Nintendo who was so impressed, they signed a contract with Rare to begin developing games. This began a close partnership with Rare and Nintendo that would last decades. Rare was given an unlimited budget and began working on several games and opened an office in the USA — Rare, Inc. — in preparation of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Rare developed loads of their own games and also ported dozens of successful games to Nintendo consoles. Rare cemented their partnership with Nintendo even further in the mid-1990s making them a second-party developer, and they asked to reboot the Donkey Kong series, which they did with great acclaim. This partnership lasted through the the Nintendo 64 era, but Nintendo never offered to officially buy the company, and Rare searched for buyer, and both Activision and Microsoft fought to buy them, ultimately with Microsoft winning, and Rare became a first party Microsoft developer in 2002 for the Xbox. Although Rare is now owned by Microsoft, they continue to work with Nintendo occasionally for select titles.
When I was most interested in video games, I didn't care about the companies that developed them. However, as I began to look back on many of the games that were most influential to me, I began noticing trends. Although none of Rare's games ever made it on my list of favorites, I still ended up playing a lot of them, and owning a handful. I also appreciate how inventive Rare has been, often making games that broke the mold.
Although Rare's name was included on most of the games they developed, they didn't start branding themselves until 1991.