Microsoft taste: Rare stake

Acquisition should bolster Xbox console

In a potentially major shift in the vidgame firmament, Microsoft has acquired Nintendo’s stake in Rare Ltd., the creative force behind “Donkey Kong” and other major franchises. Terms of the sale of the 49% stake in the British development studio were not released.

Over the past decade, Rare has created dozens of games for Nintendo hardware platforms, including such massive franchises as “Donkey Kong,” “Banjo-Kazooie,” “Diddy Kong,” the James Bond-based “GoldenEye 007” and its non-licensed sequel, “Perfect Dark.” The sale announcement comes as Rare’s newest title, the highly touted “Star Fox Adventures,” arrives in stores this week exclusively for Nintendo’s GameCube console.

Acquisition should bolster Microsoft’s Xbox console, which debuted 10 months ago in a blitz of publicity and high regard for the machine’s techni-cal capabilities. But game enthusiasts have complained about Xbox’s lack of top-flight titles available only on that console.

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