platform

Banjo X (Threeie) [Xbox – Cancelled]

Banjo X was to be the third installment to the Banjo Kazooie franchise, slated to be released for the original Xbox. Initially the game was being developed in 2004 by Rare as a straight remake of the first game, with enhanced graphics and gameplay for the new console.

Supposedly, the characters in Banjo X were to break the 4th wall, so to speak, and gradually become aware that the game was a remake of the original Nintendo 64 version.  The farther along the player got in the game, the more things would shift directions from the original Banjo Kazooie.  It would have been at this point when the characters would become aware that they were in a remake of the original game and attempt to alter the plot in a different way. Rare had already experimented with the remake of Conker’s Bad Fur Day, adding a few different situations in the early parts of the game to surprise players who knew the original version, it seemed only right to expand a similar concept in Banjo X.

The world found out about this lost game in late 2011 / early 2012 when Xbox executable files (dated June 2004) for a title named “Banjo X” were found by PtoP Online on an old Xbox development kit. These files were missing many of the characteristic that would have been needed to run the prototype, but someone managed to break them open and find some clues. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t do much when attempting to access it.

Depending on the file launched, a black command screen will pop up, showing files missing and an error message. It was expected that the game wouldn’t work due to these missing assets, but the fact that it boots shows that something was being worked on at some point. One user was able to extract an early 3D model of Mumbo.

Names for new Banjo abilities and items were also discovered in these executable files. Some of these include: Springy Shoes, Rocket Sneakers, Metal Feathers, Aviator Goggles, Invisibility Chocolates, Big Feathers, Bag of Eggs, and Diamond Beak.

During Banjo X’s development, the idea of having Gruntilda and Banjo attempting to accomplish the same task at the same time was attempted. Gregg Mayles wanted Gruntilda to interfere with Banjo during gameplay and make things much harder for the player.  However, the team at Rare thought the idea would have required a very complex AI in order for it to do what they wanted.  This concept was quickly scrapped after this realization.

Even though the game supposedly didn’t get very far into development, Steve Mayles tweeted out early character models he made for Banjo X. One was Mr. Termite, and the other was Conga.

Designer Ed Bryan also tweeted out a rendition of a reimagined Mumbo and Tiptup, made around 2004 .

Steve Mayles also confirmed in a twitter response that he remembers seeing a 4 player co-op mode during Banjo X’s development. It was during this time that a separate team at Rare began working on a Mario Kart style game with the Banjo Kazooie IP, under the name “Banjo Kazoomie”.  The major concept that made it stand out was the fact that the player was able to build their own vehicle to use.

Banjo Kazoomie didn’t get very far in development but many of its ideas were later reused in Nuts & Bolts. According to designer Gregg Mayles, “Rare thought this would be a “hard sell,”, and that “players would expect a whole new game”.  It was clear that there were not many reasons to continue working on Banjo X for the original Xbox and the team soon moved their plans to the new Xbox 360.

The new Banjo game would have been a completely different game and Rare began brainstorming ideas of how players traveled in platformers. They wanted to make the trip to the overall objection as fun as possible. This is when they decided to combine the Banjo Kazoomie idea with the worlds for Banjo X.  The team only got as far as the first level and as soon as vehicles became incorporated with the game, Mumbo’s Mountain had to be altered to a much larger size in order to have proper usage of the vehicles.

Unfortunately, the interesting idea of a breaking-the-4th-wall remake with multiplayer coop for Banjo Kazooie never saw the light of day. But in the end, Rare was still able to release a third entry in the Banjo series with Nuts & Bolts, even if feedback from the fans was mixed.

Article by Karl Gutierrez & monokoma

Images:

  

Pojo the Chicken (Midway) [Playstation 2 – Cancelled]

Pojo the Chicken is a cancelled 3D platformer / action game which was in development in 2000 by Atari / Midway Games West for Playstation 2. Pojo was originally born as an easter egg / secret character to be unlocked in such games as MACE: The Dark Age and Gauntlet and she was mostly an internal joke / team mascot for Midway. At some point in late ‘90s the studio jumped the shark and decided to make Pojo the main protagonist of her own game.

As described for Mace: the Dark Age:

“Pojo: The Fighting Chicken, transformed by Countess Taria into something more than human, a force powerful enough to rend the very cosmos in her powerful beak. Pojo wages a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the feathered way.”

Unfortunately only a few screenshots from an early level remain from this lost game to remember its existence. By looking at its colorful graphic, we can assume Pojo the Chicken would have been a fantasy action platformer, with humorous settings and funny jokes. For example the island you can see in these screens was home for Kung Pao, which we speculate was some kind of kung-fu chicken master which could have teached special moves to Pojo. Kung Pao chicken is also the name of a delicious chinese dish.

We don’t know enough about Pojo the Chicken to say if it could have been a fun game to play, but for sure it seems the team had fun at conceiving something as crazy and amusing as a whole game based around a powerful fighting chicken.

The same team also worked on the cancelled Joust 3D for PS2 and Xbox, before developing Dr. Muto which was finally published in 2002 for PS2, Xbox and Gamecube. In 2009 Midway Games filed for bankruptcy, most of its internal games studios where closed and all of its assets were purchased by other companies such as Warner Bros. Probably we’ll never know what really happened to the mighty chicken Pojo.

Images: 

Moeyo Butaman [NES – Cancelled]

Moeyo Butaman (燃えよ ぶたマン!?) is a cancelled NES / Famicom game that was in development in 1992 and it would have been published by Sigma Enterprises. Only a couple of (tiny) scans from old japanese gaming magazines remain to remember the existence of this game.

The main protagonist was going to be some kind of super-hero pig, and as noted by GDRI gameplay could have been similar to Time Zone, another action platformer published by Sigma in 1991.

Characters designer for Moeyo Butaman was Gen Sato  – a designer / animator who also worked on “Suishou no Dragon” with Squaresoft and on many anime – who seems to have a playable cart of Moeyo Butaman in his personal collection.

We can only hope that one day he could dump the game to preserve it from being lost forever.

Images: 

Intelligent Games Music + Platform [Prototypes]

Between 2000 and 2002 Intelligent Games developed a few games such as Tweenies: Game Time, LEGO Stunt Rally and 2002 FIFA World Cup for Playstation 2, GameCube and Xbox. Before to close down in December 2002 they were working on “BPM: Ministry of Sound” for PS2, a music-tool to be published under Ministry of Sound brand.

This music-making title was somehow eventually completed many years later by Mix Max as MTV Music Generator 3 and published by Codemasters.

Using the same 3D engine the team also worked for just a few days on an prototype for an action platformer inspired by Jak and Daxter. It was just a way to test their engine to see if it could have been used to create another kind of game other than a music-tool.

In this action-platformer prototype there was a bunny-alike character which could run around the small world and a few NPCs to look at. Not much more was ever done on the prototype and was soon put away before the closure of the company.

Thanks to Dugan for the contribution!

  

Shantae 32 bit [Playstation 1, PC – Cancelled]

After being one of the most forgotten hidden gems for Game Boy Color in 2002, in the last few years Shantae became a cult-series, with 4 main games developed by WayForward Technologies for PC, Wii U, DS, Playstation 4, 3DS, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. While Shantae games are quite popular today, most fans still don’t know that the first, original Shantae project for Playstation 1 and PC was never released.

shantae playstation 1 pc cancelled 32 bit game

Thanks to mpx and Youloute we know that this cancelled 32 bit version of Shantae was in development around 1997 and it was even shown on the official WayForward Technologies website in the late ‘90s:

“It is a time of magic and majesty, where strange beasts roam the land and beautiful creatures wield powerful magic. In this world lives a young girl named Shantae… a troubled genie, born without magic, yet the only individual capable of saving the realm from disaster. Following a century of imprisonment underground, three powerful Jins have broken the seal that restrained them, and now seek to drain the world of the magic it needs to survive. As the magic is stolen, the peaceful creatures that once harbored it are left weak and helpless. Shantae, unaffected by the magic drain, is the only hope for peace. But can she possibly battle the Jins and their legion of monsters relying only on the magic she reclaims along the way? It’s up to you to guide Shantae through perilous traps and dangers beyond your wildest imaginings!”

 

“Shantae is designed for the PC or comparable game system (such as the Sony Playstation). The gameplay is full 3-D, with traditionally (2D) animated characters that move in and out of the rendered backgrounds. With this advantage, players can travel down streets, enter tunnels or battle monsters several times the size of the normal viewing area! Perhaps the best feature of this 3-D system is the totally hands-free camera movement. The view automatically zooms in or out, up or down depending on the proximity of Shantae to other important elements. In addition, the paths Shantae can take often split into different layers of depth, allowing the player to walk on near or far surfaces in order to get around obstructions, crevices, or buildings. Also, enemies can attack from any direction in three-dimensional space in order to hunt Shantae down. It’s the long awaited blend of 2-D’s fluid animation and 3-D’s next generation gameplay rolled into one!”

During an interview with Siliconera, Shantae series director Matt Bozon said:

“We had a polygonal Shantae that could be run around in three distinct gameplay ‘gyms’. […] One was a spline-scroller (like Namco’s Klonoa), one was a free-range 3D like Mario 64, and the last was an isometric 3D platformer. We’ve done a lot of exploration in this area… Shantae was a sprite/3D hybrid for PlayStation and PC, and was free-roaming on the PlayStation 2.”

Shantae’s character design was a bit different in this lost game, compared to her current design:

In 2013 during a live streaming the WayForward team played the cancelled Shantae 2: Risky Revolution for GBA, so we can only hope that one day they could also find a playable version of this cancelled Playstation / PC version to show it to the world. Only a few, small screenshots are currently saved in the gallery below.