Diddy Kong Pilot was a Mode-7 racer developed by Rare Ltd. and meant to be published by Nintendo. Originally announced in 2001, the game featured various characters from the Donkey Kong universe and could be controlled with a tilt sensor that was integrated into the game’s cart. In 2002, Nintendo sold their share of Rare Ltd. and opted out of their publishing contract. The game was later reskinned with Banjo characters and released as Banjo-Pilot.
Original description from Rare’s website:
Relive the classic gameplay style of Diddy Kong Racing as you take to the skies again in one of Rare’s very first titles for the Game Boy Advance! Pick out your favourite from an unlikely squadron of Kongs and Kremlings, each bringing along their own distinctive (and customizable) flying machine, then launch yourself headlong into the striking 3D courses. Within minutes you’ll be diving low over sandy beaches and climbing high above bubbling lava en route to the chequered flag and victory…
All sorts of play options are yours for the tinkering, including single-player and multiplayer tournaments, a classic time trial and detailed story modes for each character (ending in climactic one-on-one boss duels). You can even link up with three of your mates, competing for the title of squadron leader or simply blast each other out of the sky in frantic dogfights.
Other features of the game include interactive background scenery, rolling and looping manouevres, upgradable weapons and power-ups, secret features to unlock and of course the rarely-seen Tilt Technology, where, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can set aside your D-Pad in favour of controlling the plane by actually tilting the Game Boy Advance.
Banjo-Kazooie was originally known by the project name Dream for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The project starred a boy named Edison, who owned a wooden sword and got into trouble with a group of pirates lead by Captain Blackeye. Dream was also scheduled to include a rabbit that looked like a man, a dopey dog and a bear that became Banjo. A screenshot from the Project Dream phase, shows Edison in a pirate town, but we do not know if it is a concept art or a Nintendo 64 tech demo. Finally, Project Dream was shown at the 1997 E3 as Banjo-Kazooie. [info from wikipedia]
From Grant Kirkhope’s website we can read many interesting facts about Dream’s development and download some unused / beta songs:
I started at Rare in October 1995 and when I got there “Dream” was already going. The core team from “Donkey Kong Country” had given DK to another team to carry on with and was working on this game which was going to be Rare’s greatest SNES title. It was very secret and Tim Stamper was leading the team, nobody outside the team knew anything about it. […]
I was shown the demo of the game running on the SNES and was blown away; it looked beautiful and was obviously going to be a big step up from “Donkey Kong Country”. […]
Pretty soon after I joined the game it was decided that it was too big for the SNES and was converted over to the N64, plus we were going to be using the extra “bulky drive” add on, that Nintendo told us they had in development. […]
The game was a huge RPG, which I loved as I was a huge “Zelda” fan, and I tried to write some really strong themes for all the characters. The demos that I’ve put on the site are all using proper samples as opposed to the N64 versions which were obviously not as good quality due to memory restrictions.[…]
I think the final nail in the coffin for “Dream” came from another one of Rare’s teams. The “Killer Instinct” team had started “Conker” and it looked and played fantastically. In “Dream” we had this elaborate floor system that meant we could stretch the polygons into any shape to create some really great looking landscapes that really hadn’t been tried before, unfortunately the N64 just didn’t have the power to run it at a decent frame rate and we were struggling to make it work. The “Conker” team had gone more the tried and trusted route as used in “Mario 64” and had left us behind. I remember Tim trooping us all across the courtyard to look at “Conker” and our hearts all sank as “Conker” was really good.[…]
So we went back to our barn and tried their method, “Dream” started to run great. Then Tim was unhappy with the whole boy/hero thing and said we should change it to an animal. A bear was our first creature and “Banjo” the bear was born. So now we had “Banjo” running around in an RPG, I really can’t remember when we added the back pack and “Kazooie” but it was around this time. Again Tim still didn’t think it was all good enough and after seeing how good “Mario 64” was and with Rare’s platforming heritage it was decided to scrap “Dream” and do a platformer with ” Banjo” as the main character.[…]
In the gallery below you can see various screens and videos from the beta version of the game, with removed enemies and levels. One of the most famous beta areas is the “Giant’s Lair”, that should have been the world’s HUB before Gruntilda’s Lair. The “Mount Fire Eyes” is instead a beta level, that is talked about in the final game, as an easter egg. You can check the video below created by VIDEOmakerNezuke to read more info on the Banjo beta.
Some more info on Banjo Kazooie Beta listed by Mew Mew:
there were originally 16 levels planned for the game
some of the cut levels were reused in banjo tooie (as witchy world, glitter gulch mine and mount fire eyes)
it seems that mount fire eyes turned into the lava side in hailfire peaks
clankers cavern also went through a few changes in its devlopment for example there is a video which shows clanker the whale as a real whale not made of metal with the fungi forest music from donkey kong 64
clankers cavern is rumoured to have been a part of fungus forest (similar too donkey kong 64), as the level is very close to the underwater entrance to the click clock woods puzzle podium, which is covered in moss or fungus (this was believed to be where the orginal entrance or puzzle was for fungus forest)
This description of the game is still a work in progress, if you would like to write a better article on the development of the game, let us know!
Thanks to Princess Toadstol, Saga Darvulia, cheat-master30 Anon and BM for the contributions!
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