Banjo-Pilot is a handheld racer developed by Rare Ltd. and published by THQ in 2005. Originally, Nintendo announced it as Diddy Kong Pilot in 2001. When they sold their share of Rare Ltd. to Microsoft (2002), they opted out of their publishing contract. As the Donkey Kong IP is a property of Nintendo, they could no longer release the game in this state.
In late 2003, THQ decided to publish the four Rare GBA titles, including Diddy Kong Pilot – now reskinned with Banjo characters. By this time, most members of the original team had either left the company or been moved onto Xbox titles. Reskinning Diddy Kong Pilot was now the task for the remaining members of the handheld team who thought it would be easier to make a game from scratch. A voxel based racing title was developed, which can be seen in our gallery. After five months (mid 2004), however, the team was asked to stop working on this version. Instead, they were meant to revive and finish the previous team’s Mode 7 game for Q3 2004, but without the tilt sensor which was announced for Diddy Kong Plot. In 2005, Banjo-Pilot finally saw a release.
Banjo Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge is the third instalment in the Banjo-Kazooie series, and the second in chronological order (in terms of the point of the beginning and end of the game – in fact, as time travel plays a significant part in the plot, most of the action takes place decades before Banjo-Kazooie). Developed by Rareware and published by THQ, it was the first Rare game released after being purchased by Microsoft from Nintendo. [info from Wikipedia]
Banjo Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge was originally announced at E3 2001. Initially, it was conceived to be a “What If?” story, taking place in an alternate timeline where Grunty’s sisters do not come to rescue her and thus Banjo-Tooie does not happen, with Grunty’s Revenge taking place instead. This idea was dropped some time before the game was released, and it was instead placed as a side-story in the Banjo timeline, between Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie.
Grunty’s Revenge is notable in that it is the only of Rare’s initially-announced Game Boy Advance titles to be released without any major changes due to the buyout of Rare by Microsoft, unlike Diddy Kong Pilot, which became Banjo-Pilot and Donkey Kong: Coconut Crackers, which became It’s Mr. Pants. [info from The Rare Witch Project Wiki]
Thanks to YouTube user transparentjinjo, that uploaded 7 videos from the Banjo Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge beta, we can see a few differences to the final version of the game. For one, the textures and graphics are significantly less-developed in the beta footage. In addition, the layout of the worlds appears different, with several areas sporting different names to those in the released version (for example, Freezing Furnace is split into two separate worlds, Freezing Fjord and Fiery Furnace).
The introductory sequence is missing in the beta version, which also uses the “down” arrow to advance in-game text, as well as a few other small changes. You can view the videos, and other interesting development footage, at transparentjinjo’s YouTube channel.
Also, some concept arts and a couple of screenshots from the “3D collision preview tool” are preserved in the gallery below. Quite a lot changed through the development of Banjo Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge. The game was reduced from 8-10 levels down to 6, and the story was cut down too.
The mad cow was the original boss on the farm level
The large mountain on the Fjord was removed when flying was removed from the game, and the remaining Fjord & Furnace sections were combined into one large level
The machine seen in “FURNACE_scene” was also lost when the 2 levels were combined
As can be seen from the Mecha Grunty pics, she was to have many transformations (tank, bazooka, drill etc) which were removed to save cartridge space
“Monster Kazooie” was a concept, but a decision was made to not implement it in the game
Swamp monsters (scorpion & spider) were not in the final game, the main swamp monsters were Bogfoot (Bigfoot with a different colour palette)
Klungo’s UFO was also too big to fit on cartridge, and replaced with Gruntilda’s ghost floating out of the rock & into the Mecha suit
Sword of Sia: Lady Sia 2 (aka Lady Sia II) is a cancelled action adventure / platform game that was in development in 2002 / 2003 for the Gameboy Advance by RFX Interactive and it would have been published by TDK Mediactive (as was the first game). It seems that Lady Sia 2 was almost complete (it was even rated by ESRB), but in 2003 RFX had to close down and TDK Mediactive was acquired by Take-Two Interactive. Lady Sia 2 vanished with the closure of its development studio and publisher.
The original Lady Sia was released in 2001 and it was one of the first titles published for the new at the time Game Boy Advance. The game was received well by the press and gamers; this cancelled sequel could have improved the formula its predecessor established and it’s a shame that we’ll never be able to enjoy it. We can only hope that a playable prototype will be leaked in the future.
The original I-Ninja is a platform / action game developed by Argonaut Games and released in 2003 for the GameCube, Playstation 2 and Xbox. Argonaut also announced a Gameboy Advance version of the game, to be developed by Destination Software (?), but this port was soon canned. I-Ninja for the GBA would have been a pseudo-3D action game, taking some of the features from the home-consoles I-Ninja (as the “running ramps” and the “slide rails”) to recreate the feeling of the game on the portable console.
As we can read in the original press release:
Following the successful GameCube, PS2, PC and XBOX versions, I-Ninja comes to Game Boy Advance! This version is a mixture of fast paced ‘Inertia Run’levels, combat arena’s, ‘Ball Rolling’ levels requiring pin point accuracy and cool showdowns in the ‘Final Boss’ levels.
Despite his size, I-Ninja is the consummate warrior and has spent years mastering his weapons and honing his fighting skills. Challenged by the world’s most wicked villain, Master O-Dor, and his menacing army of Ranx, I-Ninja is fierce in his attacks and deadly in combat. With extreme agility he navigates environments and conquers all that is evil!
We dont know why I-Ninja GBA was cancelled, but we can speculate that they did not find a publisher interested in the project or that Destination Software had some problems to port this “3D game” to the low-tech portable.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a Game Boy Advance spiritual sequel to the first Donkey Kong game for Game Boy, developed by NTS in 2004. The game concept revolves around a combination of platform and puzzle elements, challenging Mario to find keys, reach a locked door, and rescue mini-Marios. [Info from Wikipedia]
Upaluppa and Kiiro found many unused stuff and beta levels still hidden in the final game’s code, as a a prototype version of the MvsDK e-card levels, Mini Marios trapped inside crystal balls as keys, some unused coins / stars and a working level editor. It’s possible that the Level Editor evolved from the unreleased Donkey Kong Plus.
Also, an unused Bomb-Ombs behavior. As wrote by upaluppa:
they start running around scared, just like Shy-Guys do, when Mario is equipped with the hammer! You’ll never see them running normally, because none of the levels with Bob-Ombs includes hammers…