Rare Ltd

Savannah [Xbox 360 – Prototype]

Savannah was one of various prototypes in development at Rare Ltd. during 2006/2007. As the project remained in prototype stage and was not greenlit, only few elements were set in stone, but it could have been some sort of nature simulator, more than a realistic Viva Pinata. Sadly we don’t know exactly for which kind of gameplay these models could have been planned to, and sadly we’ll probably never know, as the project was lost forever in one of many Rare’s internal restructures. Only few images and animations remains to preserve the existence of this project.

In an interview with a former Rare employee by Emily Rogers on Not Enough Shaders we can read some more info on Savannah:

“Savannah” was the brain child of Phil Dunne. Phil’s concept was to create a realistic savannah environment where you raised a lion cub from birth to its adult life, teaching it survival and social skills to survive the harsh life in the wild. We knew of the Kinect coming out but we had no real info on how good it was, but the plan was to try and use that technology in “Savannah”.

It was an interesting concept and it was fun to work on, we really tried to push the technology of the 360 to get the most out of the graphics.  The lions and Hyenas were using a custom shell system for the fur, and with the help of a great programmer called Cliff Ramshaw, I think we got some of the nicest looking in-game fur I’ve seen.

It was only ever a prototype, and it never got a green light.

Thanks to Otrant for the contribution!

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Kinect Trainer [Xbox 360 – Cancelled]

In 2009, British software studio Rare Ltd. started to work on fitness software for Microsoft’s Kinect accessory in co-operation with Nike. The title was allegedly cancelled in mid-2010 because of various fitness titles from third party publishers for the very same platform. As with every game from Rare Ltd, the software had different design directions throughout its development, including a style with rather realistic characters and Avatar-styled ‘protagonists’.

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Perfect Dark Core/Vengeance [Xbox 360 – Cancelled / Prototype]

Perfect Dark Core was a project in development between 2006-2007, intended as a sequel to the critically acclaimed Nintendo 64 shooter, Perfect Dark. While Microsoft had previously released another instalment in the PD franchise on Xbox 360, Perfect Dark Zero, its reception among fans was fairly tepid by comparison. Rare, looking to shake things up, intended to bring some drastic changes with their next game.

Perfect Dark Zero was developed by what remained of the original Perfect Dark team at Rare, which was led by Chris Tilston. However, after PDZ was finished in late 2005, the team was split into smaller teams that started work on different prototypes. One of these was The Fast & the Furriest, headed by PDZ’s story and script writer Dale Murchie. Another prototype team was spearheaded by Mark Edmonds and Chris Tilston, both worked on an MMO called Cascade, which was cancelled during the company restructure in early 2009. As the leads of the PD series were either bound to other (later to be cancelled) projects or had already left the company (with one being graphics director Kevin Bayliss), Rare’s management decided to hand the PD franchise to the developers of Conker’s Bad Fur Day; a team led by Chris Seavor. Some of the Conker team had already helped during the final stages of Perfect Dark Zero when it was ported to Xbox 360, others had worked on Urchin, a gothic/horror prototype cancelled in 2006.

As lead on the project, Chris Seavor and his team envisioned a very different approach towards the series’ titlular character, Joanna Dark. She was still to some extent the wise-cracking spy seen in the first game, albeit with some major changes. This Joanna was a colder, tougher warrior, whose very sanity has been, to some extent, worn down by years of field work.

Throughout the story, she would have been joined by a growing team of allies. These were almost all original characters named Sable, Milton, Pennington and Jo’s close friend, Mia. Later in the plot, they would have been accompanied by Elvis, the maian alien whom Joanna rescued in the original game.

 

Banjo Tooie [N64 – Beta / Unused Stuff]

Banjo-Tooie, for Nintendo 64, is a game that really needs no introduction. The sequel to the landmark platformer Banjo-Kazooie, Tooie achieved huge popularity in its own right for its immersive gameplay, huge worlds and charming characters. The game, set two years after the events of Banjo-Kazooie, didn’t receive the same amount of media interest as its predecessor because, as a sequel, it was not seen as being as revolutionary or new as Kazooie. From what we can tell (from the limited screenshots made available), a few cosmetic changes were present in the game before publication:

1) the warp pads, instead of spirals, were adorned with large “B-T” logos

2) Humba Wumba used Mumbo tokens instead of Glowbos

3) her talking head sprite wore a mask of some kind under her eyes

4) she wore a red dress

5) the large bottle of “Jolly’s Juice” was once titled “Dud Beer”

As far as the press is concerned, these are the only BETA clues available.

However, Banjo-Tooie also contains perhaps the most infamous hidden development content of any video game: Bottles’ Revenge. This was planned to be a multiplayer component of the game, in which the second player used “Devil Bottles” to take control of enemies and attempt to hurt and/or kill player one (who controlled Banjo and Kazooie as usual).

However, Rare states that it ran out of time to debug the mode, and it now remains accessible only by using a cheating device such as a GameShark. Although Devil Bottles was originally planned to be capable of possessing bosses, Rare has said that only Old King Coal was programmed for this when Bottles’ Revenge was dropped, and Old King Coal is not controllable in the version that is present in the retail game.

Further delving into the game’s code has discovered a few other sections of the game that were abandoned, but remain in the cartridge and accessible, again, through the use of a cheating device. The first of these is a large ceiling object, and the second consists of three doorways which, based on their position in Banjo-Kazooie’s memory, were probably intended to form part of Witchy World. There is one other unused area, but it is very small and contains no visible object. The first two rooms are viewable in the video below (from Runehero124’s YT Channel):

There is more information on the unused rooms at Rare Witch Project Forum

The Fast and the Furriest [XBOX 360 – Cancelled]

The Fast & the Furriest is a cancelled party game that was in development in 2006 by Rare for the Xbox 360 Xbox Live Arcade digital service. Other than the normal joypad, the game could have been played with the Xbox Live Vision camera, to track players’ movements in a similar way to the PS2 EYE Toy or Microsoft’s own Kinect. The Fast & the Furriest would have included many different mini-games, as 100 meter dash, bungee run, hurdles and tip-tup curling. As we can read on Joystick:

Each player will be able choose a character like Conker or Banjo which will actually be a “suit” (think mascot suits). Players will then be able to scan their face using the Vision camera to skin the face opening of the character suit.

A playable prototype was created by a team headed by Dale Murchie and composed of developers of Perfect Dark Zero. Still, the project was canned, maybe for quality reasons. Only a short video from The Fast & the Furriest proto was shown at the Develop 2010 Keynote, a revelation that is not usual for a studio as secretive as Rare.. huge props to them!

Thanks to Celine for the contribution!

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