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.
Unseen64 has recently been given the opportunity to interview the legendary audio designer Grant Kirkhope, most notable for his work with Rare (GoldenEye 007, Banjo-Kazooie, Grabbed by the Ghoulies, Viva Piñata and more), he is currently Audio Director for Big Huge Games. As we can read on Wikipedia, before joining Rare in October 1995, he played for two bands called Syar and Maineeaxe where he played guitar, and already knew Robin Beanland, another Rare composer. Continue to read below to know more about his memories on the development of the Banjo series and other Rare tales!
U64: Thanks for your time Grant! Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers?
Grant: Hello, I’m the Audio Director at Big Huge Games in Baltimore, prior to this I worked at Rare in the UK and was lucky to work on many of Rare’s big titles over my 12 years there.
U64: In your time in the games industry what were some games you’ve worked on that were never released, or that changed drastically throughout there development?
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
Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is a Xbox 360 title developed by Rare Ltd. and published by Microsoft in 2008. Unlike it’s predecessors, Nuts & Bolts was not a pure platformer; instead it involved building a car and driving with it. First concepts of this gameplay mechanic reach back to 2002-2004, when a small team was working on a prototype for a new Banjo-Kazooie game – at that time still for the original Xbox.
In 2005/2006, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts evolved from a prototype into a real beta game. Hence choices for the design direction were taken as seen in the following gallery with early concept art. But there were also various changes in the later stages of development. One of the levels in the final game is called “Klungo´s Arcade”, but in the beta version it was called “Klungo´s Play Emporium” and below you can see an image that shows what it was gonna look like. After that, there is a screenshot from the same level in the final version. Do you see the differences?
On the official Rare website we can even read some interesting informations on the sixth removed level from the game: “Partway through all this, we learned that one Game World was to be dropped to give us a chance of getting the game finished on time, bringing the total down from six to five. This was a bit of a headache and involved some redesign, as the Seaside lost its Game World doors to the Docks, which required a different Trolley ability to reach, so certain features got changed or moved about to cope with the restructure. Beyond that, we also had a problem in that the size of the actual Town asset was so big, the game kept running out of memory, so a few things had to be pruned.
The pier used to have a pavilion you could drive through halfway along it, complete with arcade cabinets and a lower deck. That had to go, which was a shame. There was also a harbour beacon near the beach huts that got ripped out too. On the whole, though, there weren’t too many sacrifices made in getting everything stable.”
Thanks to Spiral Mountain Forum users, we even noticed some other differences in the early version of the game, like a different vehicle editor and parts, beta trolley and Grunty under the sun.
Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts was Rare’s third idea in their plans to create a sequel to Banjo-Tooie. In an interview with Gregg Mayles, he said that the first idea was to create a remake of Banjo-Kazooie that would purport to be a direct port, but would feature extreme changes unexpectedly.
For example, a massive queen termite would emerge from the termite hill in Mumbo’s Mountain, causing Banjo to have to get oranges for Conga to throw at it. The second concept involved more traditional platforming, but with Gruntilda trying to follow Banjo and Kazooie around every world and replicating their moves in an effort to better them. The working title for the vehicle idea was Banjo-Buildie, but Mayles stated that it was too similar to the previous titles to have an impact. The team later stated that they had also attempted to make a rather more straight sequel to Tooie without any kind of twist but that they felt it was a “stale” method. [Infos from Wikipedia]
Also, as noted by [Nintex] in the NeoGAF Forum, an entire world was scrapped to reach the deadline:
This world is referenced several times in the game by characters in Showdown Town. A villager references Weird west by saying it was once accessible through the boarded up windows and doorways found near the Pier. LOG makes the comment, “You should be grateful, I could’ve sent you to Hoedown Town. It’s awful. The music, the dancing! Oh my!” A penguin in Showdown Town also makes a reference to this world saying, “You know the docks used to be twice as long? There used to be doors that lead to the Weird West game world.”
Thanks a lot to Lord Deathsaur and Nintex for the contribution!
Among the many presentations and new titles submitted during Spaceworld 2000, we can also find the interesting Banjo-Threeie tech demo. It was not really meant to be a video from a new game, but just a “recycled” footage from previous Rareware games (it contains even some Conker stuff), created to demonstrate the capabilities of the Gamecube.
We can see two situations: Banjo and Kazooie in a canyon (some have suggested that this canyon is the same one from Diddy Kong Racing), chased by enemies from the previous Banjo games. The second situation is set in the disco level of Conker’s Bad Fur Day.
After the purchase of RARE by Microsoft, the third chapter in the saga of Banjo was released for the XBOX 360 and of course the old tech demo for Gamecube has never become a real game.