Sabreman Stampede [XBOX / X 360 – Cancelled]

Do you remember Donkey Kong Racing for the GameCube? When Rare was sold to Microsoft in 2002, they also announced a racing title. As they could no longer use the Donkey Kong characters, rumours appeared saying that the game was being reworked into a racer starring Rare’s own Sabreman.

In 2003, Microsoft trademarked the title “Sabreman Stampede“, it appeared as if there was the final confirmation. In March 2004, Rare answered the following in their Scribes when asked whether Donkey Kong Racing was still alive:

“Well, yes and no. It’s not called Donkey Kong Racing any more, it’s not for the GameCube any more and by this point I’d imagine so little of the original art and code remains that it’s barely even the same game any more, but yes, it’s still coming out. In some form. Wait and see, if you haven’t already picked up on the new title that’s been unofficially floating around the electrical interweb for months now.”

It was not until 2008 that we saw how much the game had changed as an unanonymous poster leaked a video on Youtube (you can find it in our gallery beneath). Developed by a team of which many worked on Starfox Adventures or Jet Force Gemini, Sabreman Stampede had evolved from a racer into a full adventure. One could hardly notice that it had started out as Donkey Kong Racing.

In late 2004 it was decided to port both Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero from Xbox to Xbox 360. As the Kameo team did not have enough resources,  members of the  “Sabreman Team“, as such they were later credited, were asked to help out. However, this also meant that Sabreman Stampede had to be put on hold, even though porting and reworking it for a Xbox 360 release had already begun. After six years Sabreman Stampede was cancelled. Having started out as a Diddy Kong Racing successor, evolving into a title in which you were riding herds and then becoming an adventure game, its development was stopped due to a lack of focus in design.

As we can read in an  interview with Lee Musgrave:

Donkey Kong Racing was obviously pretty heavily tied to Nintendo as a franchise, and as Rare approached the finalization of a buyout deal with Microsoft it was clear that the game had no future, at least with the ape’s as characters. We switched it around to be a Sabreman game, and there was a great early Xbox prototype – but someone, somewhere decreed that it was a little too old-school for the kind of ‘revolutionary gaming experiences’ that the Xbox was capable of delivering, and so it started down a path of meandering changes, updates and ‘evolution’ that finally saw it run out of steam and fall over. There were some great ideas in the game as it developed though, and I still look back to the early racing game design and think we could have done something great with that.

This was all vaporware until July 2008, when Transparentjinjo added a video of the Xbox 360 prototype on his YouTube channel.  It seems that Stampede had a long and interesting development history, that sadly ended in a cancellation. Even if we will never be able to play the game, we are happy that some proof of Sabreman Stampede’s existence can be preserved!

Special thanks to Transparentjinjo.




Killer Instinct [Beta – SNES Arcade]

Killer Instinct is a fighting game developed by RareWare and published by Midway and Nintendo. Initially released in arcades in 1994 it was later ported to the Super Nintendo. In the gallery below you can notice some early character designs for B.Orchid and Glacius. As they wrote at the Killer Instinct Arena, the earliest version of Black Orchid was a blonde amazon, but a later version of her featured a black outfit. In the final game Orchid wears a green and yellow dress.

Also, thanks to Lucazz we found out that a beta Killer Instinct ROM was somehow leaked online, and it contains many differences from the final version:

  • the orchid stage and the cinder stage have the same beta floor
  • glacius and jago have an unused song
  • the gangsta theme is in glacius’ stage
  • the fulgore theme is in cinder’s stage
  • the menu screen is in a different position
  • the orchid stage doesn’t have the rare and nintendo logos in the screens and the stage side is moved to the right
  • the raptor sprites are corrupted
  • the eyedol bridge stage is in the cinder’s stage, similar of the arcade
  • in the continue screen the song is the same as the menu screen

Thanks to Robert Seddon and Lucazz for the contributions!

In a promotional video of Killer Instinct, embedded below, we can see an early version of the coin-op with some differences:

  • Beta character selection screen
  • Cinder’s name was Meltdown and Sabrewolf’s Werewolf.
  • Some of the combo types were removed or changed, like Mondo combo and Elite combo
  • The voice that announces the stage name is different
  • Some stages were slightly different, like the Tower arena and the Sabrewulf livel



Conker: Live And Reloaded [XBOX – Beta]

Conker: Live and Reloaded is a remake of Nintendo 64 game Conkers Bad Fur Day. When the game was 1st announced it was called Conker: Live and Uncut, and was intended to be completely uncut and remove all the censoring of the first game, its name was later changed to Conker: Live and Reloaded and had even more censoring than the original game. Throughout the games development there were many cuts and changes to the multiplayer mode.

While it was a remake, the single player game went through a number of changes mostly involving different textures or models, especially for Buga The Knut and his girl. Her lips are larger in the older picture, and her bra is leopardskin rather than a standard brownish color in the final version. Also her nipples are showing in the beta version (not only that, but Buga has chest hair in the beta shot). Conker-bat was black in the beta, as in the N64 game, but in the final version it’s orange.

Thanks a lot to Airfoemoe, Supermoe1998 and Karrunaniara for the contributions!




Kameo [XBOX – Cancelled]


Kameo was originally slated for the Nintendo Gamecube and was set to be one of Rare’s flagship titles for the system, along with Star Fox Adventures and Donkey Kong Racing. However, when Microsoft announced its purchase of Rare in late 2002, Kameo’s future was put in question. It was decided that work would continue on the Xbox, and a planned release date of 2003 was given. After several revamps, causing repeated delays, Kameo was put on indefinite hold in late 2004. Following this, rumours began that the game was once again undergoing a platform change, this time from the Xbox to the Xbox 360, where it was finally released as a launch title. – [info from Wikipedia]

[Thanks to Matt Gander for some of these images!]



Concept Art




Perfect Dark Zero [XBOX – Cancelled]

Perfect Dark Zero started out as a prequel to Rare’s highly successful Nintendo 64 FPS title “Perfect Dark”. Originally planned for a release on GameCube, Perfect Dark Zero became a Xbox game as Microsoft acquired both Rare and the Perfect Dark franchise. Perfect Dark Zero first appeared on an E3 2001 list for the Nintendo GameCube lineup. However, it was not until Microsoft’s X02, where they announced the acquisition of Rare Ltd,  that Perfect Dark Zero appeared again. While it was said to be released until late 2004 at latest, nothing but a few artworks of a cel-shaded Joanna Dark were shown, which saw heavy criticism from fans of the N64 classic. This criticism as well as internal issues led to the game being started again. While the game got a more realistic art style, several key people who had also worked on Perfect Dark left the studio including PDZ’s original lead programmer Brian Marshall, Jamie Williams and B Jones. Thus the title saw several delays. In late 2004, it was decided to release Perfect Dark Zero to Xbox 360, on which it was released as a launch title  in 2005.

Mai-hem, a Chinese super villain with a comedy name. With her long pig tails weighted down at the end the idea was that she would use them as a fighting weapon even though she looked unarmed. In the final version Mai-Hem was still a villain, but looks vastly different and she no longer uses her hair as a weapon.

Images & concepts from the Xbox version: