NEW YORK (AP) _ Nintendo Co. Ltd. said Tuesday it would buy a 25 percent stake in Rare, a British company that created the ``Donkey Kong Country'' game that has lifted Nintendo's sales in recent months.

The companies would not disclose terms of the investment, the first by Nintendo in a video game developer outside of Japan.

Nintendo has sold more than 7.4 million copies of ``Donkey Kong Country'' since it became available last fall. Its popularity has boosted sales of Nintendo's game systems at a time when it and top competitor Sega are getting ready to bring out more powerful machines.

``Just like the movie industry where there are a handful of people who make great movies, the video game industry only has a few people who make great games,'' Howard Lincoln, chairman of Nintendo of America, said in a statement.

The investment gives Nintendo assurance that Rare will continue to create games for its systems.

Rare, a privately-run firm that operates from a 300-year-old farmhouse in Twycross, England, is now working on a sequel to ``Donkey Kong Country'' and a game based on the James Bond movie ``Goldeneye'' that is now being filmed in London.

The company expects to increase the size of its programming staff from 84 to 250 over the next two years, it said.