Rare is a British developer known for its almost flawless output throughout the 90’s and early 2000s. The studio delivered hit after hit while partnered with Nintendo, releasing legendary platforming games such as the Donkey Kong Country and Banjo-Kazooie series, revolutionary first-person shooters like Goldeneye 007 and Perfect Dark, and the brilliant Conker’s Bad Fur Day, which demonstrated the developer’s darkly humorous side. The studio’s body of work was celebrated earlier in the year with the release of Rare Replay on Xbox One, a compilation of its greatest hits.
One game that you won’t find in Rare Replay‘s collection though is Dream, a pirate-themed, RPG adventure that was in development at the studio in the mid-nineties and would eventually turn into Banjo-Kazooie.
Now, the developer has released a video on YouTube documenting the story behind this failed adventure and how it gradually evolved into one of the studio’s most memorable accomplishments. It’s an interesting ten-minute look at how failed ideas can be the beginnings of something great.
The game was initially intended for the Super Nintendo, featuring a young hero named Edson and his dog, Dinger, who would face off against pirates, trolls, and dinosaurs. In the video, designer Gregg Mayles describes how the gameplay of Dream was influenced by the JRPGs he was playing at the time and the classic LucasArts point-and-click adventure games.
Once the move was made to the Nintendo 64, Rare decided to turn Dream into a larger scale RPG with a huge, sprawling world. This idea was ultimately deemed too ambitious for the time and was reverted back to a much more familiar territory for the developer: a 2.5D platformer starring an anthropomorphic bear in a similar style to the Donkey Kong Country games.
Rare eventually abandoned the linear level design when Super Mario 64 hit the scene, prompting the development team to switch to making a 3D platformer that would match the free-roaming achievement of the Italian plumber. They decided to use the bear character from Dream and put him into his own fully three-dimensional world, eventually resulting in the game we all know and love as Banjo-Kazooie.
Take a look at the video above to see what could have been, and if you’re in the mood to play the original Banjo-Kazooie, along with 29 more of the studio’s titles, then Rare Replay is out now for Xbox One and is currently on sale as part of Microsoft’s Countdown.