Kinect Sports (codenamed Natal Sports) was Rare Ltd. first Kinect title. Development started in late 2008 and fully started in early 2009 when the studio was restructured to fully focus on Kinect Software. It was Rare’s second try to produce a sports title on Xbox 360, their first attempt used an unreleased motion controller, similar to the Wii Remote, which remained unpublished.
Banjo-Pilot is a handheld racer developed by Rare Ltd. and published by THQ in 2005. Originally, Nintendo announced it as Diddy Kong Pilot in 2001. When they sold their share of Rare Ltd. to Microsoft (2002), they opted out of their publishing contract. As the Donkey Kong IP is a property of Nintendo, they could no longer release the game in this state.
In late 2003, THQ decided to publish the four Rare GBA titles, including Diddy Kong Pilot – now reskinned with Banjo characters. By this time, most members of the original team had either left the company or been moved onto Xbox titles. Reskinning Diddy Kong Pilot was now the task for the remaining members of the handheld team who thought it would be easier to make a game from scratch. A voxel based racing title was developed, which can be seen in our gallery. After five months (mid 2004), however, the team was asked to stop working on this version. Instead, they were meant to revive and finish the previous team’s Mode 7 game for Q3 2004, but without the tilt sensor which was announced for Diddy Kong Plot. In 2005, Banjo-Pilot finally saw a release.
A GameBoy Color version of Jet Force Gemini was in development by Bit Studios (for Rare) in 2000, but it was cancelled in the end. The original JFG is a third-person shooter / action adventure published for the Nintendo 64 in October 1999, but the GBC version was never officially announced.
We were able to know about this cancelled project only thanks to Dano2k0 from the Assembler Forum, that found a playable prototype and shared some screens with the community. Rare released 2 other GameBoy Color games based on their Nintendo 64 titles, Perfect Dark and Conker’s Pocket Tales, that were received with low interest by gamers: we could speculate that their third GameBoy Color “N64 port” was canned for this reason or for quality issues.
Jet Force Gemini GBC was going to have an isometric 2D view, while the gameplay was probably going to be “similar” to the N64 version, with lots of shooting and insects to kill.
Diddy Kong Racing is an arcade / multiplayer racing game developed by Rare and released for the Nintendo 64 in 1997. As we can read in an interesting retrospective article on the game published on GamesTM (an english magazine) and reported by MundoRare, originally DKR was born as a prototype for a new Real Time Strategy game for the N64 with a caveman / time-travel theme, worked on by a team of four (Chris Stamper, Lee Musgrave, Rob Harrison and Lee Schuneman).
The RTS proto did not last long and soon the team decided to evolve the project into a fun racing game, that would have been more compatible with N64 gamers. The previous work did not get wasted as they used some of the RTS assets (as a mammoth) to populate the racing game in its early stages of development.
Musgrave confirms that this was never the case. “Just before Diddy Kong Racing, there was a month’s worth of work on a strategy game that I did with Chris Stamper, but that was in the style of Command & Conquer and not related. I rendered a few catapults, but other than that it didn’t go anywhere and died after a month. We had a go at it, but in the end it looked like the racing game had more legs”.
As Rare did not want to just create a carbon copy of Mario Kart, they decided to add some adventure elements in the game, that were influenced by Disney World. At this point of development, DKR was known as “Wild Cartoon Kingdom” and the world was a lot more theme-park based, with a central HUB that interlinked the different attractions (idea that was keep in the final game).
As the Wild Cartoon Kingdom concept convinced the bosses at Rare, they decided to organize a whole team to work fulltime on the game, and the project evolved into “Adventure Racers“.
Nintendo had no involvement in DKR’s early stages and Rare was free to develope their racing game as they want: and that’s how Adventure Racers became a sequel to RC-Pro AM, an old Rare title published for the NES. In June 1997, the game was known as RC Pro Am 64. There were no cars or go-karts, but 3-wheeled vehicles.
But when — and more importantly, how — did Pro-Am 64 actually become Diddy Kong Racing? Musgrave fills us in: “Pro-Am 64 had gotten to a stage where it was being called exactly that; the title screen was done, and it had all new IP invented characters. We got to July 1997, and it turned out that Banjo-Kazooie was going to be the game for Christmas”.
At E3 1997 Rare finally showed RC Pro Am 64 to Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto, that offered Diddy Kong to the game. The Pro-Am 64 team wasn’t happy with having Diddy Kong in the game but finally agreed as the Donkey Kong franchise was a more sellable one.
Some assets from the RC Prom AM 64 stage and other unused / beta items were left hidden in the game, and they were recently found using WWWarea‘s image modifier code. Check the RC Pro-AM 64 balloon at 1:30!
Also an interesting beta video was found in an old german promo-VHS, uploaded on Youtube by AlanarWindblade. As noticed by LerakoLanche from the Spiral Mountain Forum, there are a lot of differences in this footage:
1:01 – Krunch used to be called Krash. There was probably a dispute between Rare and Naughty Dog for the similarity of Crash Bandicoot which waranted the rename.
1:22 – The inclusion of “Rareware coins” instead of bananas on the tracks. These were most likely removed to prevent confusion when collecting Rare coins and Silver Coins.
1:44 – Different image for the Blue Balloon Boost, looks like a yellow ball with a green N.
2:51 – MUCH different looking overworld. This portion is actually the area around Snowflake Mountain, but it’s been modified signifigantly. The area features a second Taj pad, a second yellow ramp which looks to lead back to the Dino Domain area and a large hole in the wall where the door to Snowflake Mountain should be.
3:00 – NEW area for Dino Domain instead of just going up the ramp, there’s an entire area for it. More footage will be seen at 3:24
While digging through the game, Jake and Runehero came across a list of names for a sound bank. In that list there’s a reference to ProAM64 (that could have been replaced with the voice that shouts ‘Diddy Kong Racing!’ as it was right beside ‘Press Start’) and a level name ‘Jewel Mines’ and ‘Twighlight City’. Jewel Mines was a prototype / beta name for the level Haunted Woods, and Twighlight City was the prototype / beta name for Star City.
It’s interecting to notice, that the cancelled Dinosaur Planet 64 was originally meant to be a sequel to DKR.
Also, Jake is working on a beta hack for Diddy Kong Racing, to restore part of the unused content in a playable form. You can follow this Beta Remake project at the Rare Witch Project Forum!
The last video is an unused music called Sea_2b.
Also, Coolboyman with help from Subdrag found more unused areas hidden in the game’s code (see last video).
Hi Jake Thank you for your email. The Sea_2b was originaly planned for the level with the pirate ship in. As for the Taj – we clearly had a change of plan. Much too long ago to remember the details. Kind regards, Dave Wise.
Thanks to Robert Seddon, Jake Ford and Lucas Araujo for the contributions!
“Kameo 2“, successor of Kameo: Elements of Power, is a cancelled Xbox 360 title which was in development at British studio Rare Ltd. Although it was never officially announced, some Kameo 2 animations appeared in a reel of a former Rare employee, as noticed by some Kameo-fans at the neoGaf Forum. It’s interesting to see that the style of the project looked different from the original game, with a more “realistic” version of the character. We can speculate that they tried to make Kameo more “mature” to appeal more to the typical Xbox userbase. It is unknown to what extent development was finished when the title was cancelled in late 2007 – around two years after the original was released.
In 2008, concepts for a more direct sequel were created. Kameo mainly retained her design from the same game, just with a more realistic style. Images can be found beneath.