Banjo-Karting (also known as The Fast and The Furriest, as it was called in RareReplay’s unlockable video, even if it was the name of an older Rare prototype) was a game prototype for Xbox 360, started by Rare Ltd. just before Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts was finished in late 2008. The prototype took advantage of classic Banjo-Kazooie characters and built upon the racing parts of Nuts and Bolts. With Rare’s shift to Kinect projects only, this prototype was cancelled.
One of the cars created specifically for this prototype later made it into the Xbox 360 version of Sonic & Sega Allstar Racing.
Avatar Sports was a sports game in development at Rare Ltd. in 2007 / 2008 before Kinect development started. It used an unpublished motion controller that can be compared to the Wii Remote. Little is known about this title apart from the use of Microsoft’s Avatars and the inclusion of tennis. Development was halted when the motion controller was abandoned and first Kinect/Natal prototypes emerged. Rare then started to create their Kinect Sports, released in november 2010.
My Amazing Story was a family-oriented project developed by Planet Moon Studios. Originally started as a Wii prototype in 2007, Microsoft Game Studios soon approached the developer with a publishing contract for a Xbox 360 retail release.
The title went through different art styles and had various gameplay changes. In later stages of the project Planet Moon Studios prototyped early Kinect playability concepts and even pitched a proposal for a graphical overhaul of the Xbox Live Avatars at Microsofts’ request.
The project was halted in early 2009 when Microsoft Game Studios changed their focus to lifestyle Kinect games and established franchises. Planet Moon Studios were closed down in late 2010.
Phantom Dust is a pseudo-card-based fighting / action game developed by Microsoft Game Studios and published for the Xbox in 2005. The game soon became a cult hit among hardcore gamers. Players construct “arsenals” similar to decks of cards and then use them to do battle against other players. The game incorporates strategy and action elements into a game that requires both mental and reflexive skill. [Info from Wikipedia]
In a 1UP article about the game are a couple of images from a Phantom Dust prototype / beta build, in which we can notice the early graphic, different HUD and a removed arena.
From an interview published on Xboxphreaker we can read even more info about those removed areas and other missing content:
If we had more development time, I would have really liked to increase the number of missions in the single-player mode. I also wanted players to be able to move from one underground town to another. (Take a look at the area near the town shop. The driller-like machine is the remnants of this plan.)
We had more than 500 skill ideas. From that large batch we organized them, edited them, and cut them down to the present level. At first, we had intended to create a lot more environments, including:
This would be the ruins of an aquarium, with only water and fish still remaining. Only in the middle of the fish tanks would be lit up, and that light would be destroyed as players fought and destroyed things around them.
We also envisioned the floor to have leaking water on it.
The other stage we had in the planning stages was a station. In Tokyo there are a number of different subway lines, and we wanted to isolate one of them and make that into a 3D stage. In that one area there would be a memory train that was still running. Players could ride that train to different platforms. Inside the trains we would place the regenerating capsules. This is one of the very dynamic stages I had wanted to make.
You know, practically speaking it was just too much production work for our time to make these two maps, but I think we could have done it if we were creating the game on Xbox 360…
Lastly, we had also wanted to create maps to be used exclusively for multiplayer, but creating stages took longer than expected. Including normal-mapping took longer than expected, then getting designers to be comfortable with the development took a lot of time, so map creation was quite difficult.