A tech demo for a Donkey Kong game on the GameCube was shown at SpaceWorld 2001. The game was called Donkey Kong Racing and shown various characters, including Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, and Taj the Genie racing on Ellie, Expresso, Rambi, Enguarde, and Zinger, and presumably, Necky, Army, and Chomps Jr. that had been introduced in previous Donkey Kong games by Rare. This project was going to be a spiritual sequel to “Diddy Kong Racing”.
Following the sale of Rare to Microsoft in 2002, Rare announced that they were concentrating their efforts on Xbox games. [Infos from Wikipedia]
From some rumors it seems that the Donkey Kong Racing concept was somehow ported to the original XBOX, minus the Nintendo characters. The game so became know as “Sabreman Stampede Racing“, with the Sabre Wulf cast of characters. The XBOX version evolved in something more than just a racing game and the “adventure style” that you can feel in Diddy Kong Racing was even more expanded. Sadly not much infos are available on the subject, and in the end even the XBOX version was cancelled. An XBOX 360 port was started too, but never finished. Some of the concepts of Sabremen Stampede 360 were reused as initial ideas for Banjo & Kazooie Nuts & Bolts.
As we can read in an interview with Lee Musgrave:
It was a pure racing game, the underlying software mechanics were actually based on car physics, but it also incorporated the idea of riders jumping between different animals mid-race, to always be riding the ones that were bigger or faster . . . we had some awesome gameplay in place, and it was lots of fun – we even had a multiplayer version working – and when you fell off, you had to tap-tap-tap (HyperSports style) to run on foot and catch up with an animal. Fun, but it lost some appeal without the DK universe around it, and Microsoft were unsure of its potential with Xbox gamers I think.
[spoiler /Clicca qui per la versione in Italiano/ /Nascondi la versione in Italiano/]Presentato per la prima volta sotto forma di filmato all’E32001, questo gioco sarebbe dovuto essere il seguito del lodato Diddy Kong Racing su N64. Come si può ben vedere dalle foto i mezzi non sarebbero stati più kart o veicoli convenzionali, ma animali presi in prestito dagli archivi dei vari giochi Rare, Donkey Kong Country, 64 e Racing compresi. Purtroppo il titolo a causa delle vicissitudini che travolsero Rare non ha mai superato lo stadio di filmato, almeno in pubblico. Non è chiaro neanche se parte del progetto sia stato inserito nel racing per GBA Donkey Kong Pilot, ma le somiglianze sono veramente minime e tutto lascia presagire che questo gioco non abbia lasciato tracce di se in altre pubblicazioni Rare. Piccola curiosità: le foto beta di DKR si possono addirittura trovare sul retro delle confezioni dei primi GameCube! [/spoiler]