Interview: Peter Hentze, Rare
I recently got to chat with Peter Hentze, art director at Rare to discuss the legendary studio’s latest project Rare Replay and their anticipated (yet still ambitious) game Sea of Thieves. Enjoy!
Where did the concept of Rare Replay originate from?
PH: Rare Replay is essentially the celebration of our 30th anniversary. Because the company has been around for 30 years, we wanted to do something really special for our fans. We figured that this was the best love letter we could give to our fans was to bring some of the old games back and give everyone a chance to play them again.
One of those games is fan-favourite Battletoads, with two versions being featured in Rare Replay. What has the fan response been like now that the games have finally returned?
PH: To be honest, people have been super positive about Battletoads and getting to play it again, but they’ve also been super positive about the collection as a whole. It’s quite funny, there was actually a moment where someone came up to me at one of the [conferences] and was like, “Man, can I hug you?” and I’m like, “Yeah, go on!”
When it comes to Battletoads Arcade, this is the first time that it’s actually been on a console. Prior to this, it was on a dozen machines and they used to move them around North America. It’s probably my favourite game in the collection.
What’s great about this collection is that a lot of these games were released before I was even born, so not only am I getting to revisit games that I grew up with, like Banjo-Kazooie and Conker’s Bad Fur Day, but I also get to revisit games that other people grew up with.
PH: Oh yeah, totally.
Speaking of Conker’s Bad Fur Day, were there any modifications made to the original N64 version to make the game slightly less vulgar?
PH: Well, we chose this [N64] version specifically. Obviously, there are a lot of people who played the N64 version and loved it, and there are people who played Live and Reloaded and loved it, but we felt that the original was the one that fans wanted to play – you know, the unadulterated, N64 version.
Conker, of course, is featured in the game’s incredible introduction video alongside all of the other characters from Rare’s history. Was there someone specifically who thought up the concept for that video?
PH: It was kind of like the brain child of Paul Collins, our lead designer – he had this great idea where he wanted to make an opening musical number. He actually went and talked to our studio head [Craig Duncan] about doing it, and sang the song to him! Paul worked together with one of our designers Chris Allcock and Robin Beanland, who is the head of music at Rare. We have a very, very talented bunch of guys, so when it came to doing something like this, you can imagine they all jumped at the chance [to work on it].
At some points when you listen to the intro, you can hear a crowd singing. We actually got a whole bunch of people from the studio, packed them into the music room and just sang away! The whole project has been a kind of labour of love and passion, really. It’s been a joy to work on.
And it has been a joy to play! So in terms of the next project, Rare’s upcoming game Sea of Thieves was revealed at Xbox’s E3 2015 press conference, but little information about the game has been made public. How much can you tell me about the anticipated title?
PH: I would love to tell you more, but unfortunately we’ve only teased the game, and it’s all we’re willing show or say about it at this point and time, really. Keep an eye out, and keep checking our website [www.rare.co.uk].
And that we will.
I would like to extend a HUGE thanks to Peter Hentze and the entire Rare team who made the trip from England to Toronto for #X15…and here’s to another 30 years!