What a lot of people do not know is that the Rare of today is radically different from the Rare of then. Even if they were given the green light on a Conker or Banjo title, that talent has walked away.
This isn't a little known fact, it's something repeated in almost every Rare discussion that comes up. Now what people actually don't know, is that the same is true of every other major game developer these days too. People have lives, they get older and move on. The same people don't continue to work at companies for decades, you know?
Looking back at the history, Microsoft really overpaid for Rareware.
And grossly mismanaged it. They made the games that they did for Nintendo because Nintendo was constantly looking over their shoulder. Microsoft apparently just assumed that Rare was just as capable of the magic they worked on the SNES and N64 without such supervision.
I'd argue that Kameo, Nuts & Bolts and Viva Pinata were just as good as anything they ever put out on the SNES and N64. The only problem was there wasn't an audience for the games.