Right around the time Playtonic Games, a new studio made up of former veteran Rare developers, unveiled their spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie, thousands of miles away a new, Rare-approved Banjo-Kazooie game was shown off.
From the archive: Chris Seavor on cancelled projects, the good old days and losing his rag.
22nd December 2008
5th November 2008
5th November 2008
4th September 2008
28th March 2008
12th November 2007
A group of former Rare developers have announced plans for a "spiritual successor" to platforming classic Banjo Kazooie.
In September 2012 a rag-tag crew of former Banjo-Kazooie developers calling themselves MingyJongo announced that they were working on a spiritual successor to the bear & bird-based N64 platformer series. Unfortunately, that project is no longer in development.
Every Sunday we present an article from our archive - giving you a chance to discover something for the first time, or maybe just to get reacquainted. This week, with the Conker-starring Project Spark finally releasing, we go back to Wes' interview with the man behind Rare's foul-mouthed mascot.
The roots of my appreciation for Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts began long before Rare had created either bear or bird in an inauspicious-yet-somehow-none-too-surprising fashion that outwardly has nothing to do with video games.
Through a locked gate, down a winding path and by a still pond a few miles outside of the leafy village of Twycross, England, a bonsai tree stands. It was a gift given to Rare by Shigeru Miyamoto, the most famous game designer in the world, as a thank-you for the game developer's critical and commercial success in creating games for Nintendo, the most famous game maker in the world.
It's a CV packed with best-selling games spread out across a decade: Killer Instinct, GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, Kameo… we're talking, of course, about Rare.
Ye olde British developer Rare has had a makeover ahead of its 25th anniversary this summer.
Rare plans to beef up Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts on 7th April with the Lord of Games' Lost Challenges pack.
Rare plans to restructure and possibly downsize in order to refocus on speedy, more simplified development cycles.
Rare has announced that Banjo-Tooie will be released on Xbox Live Arcade in April following the release of the original Banjo-Kazooie through the download service late last year.
Rare has reportedly patched Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts so that dialogue boxes and prompts are easier to read on standard-definition TVs.
The latest auto-downloading title update turns on large text by default, according to forumites, and introduces a toggle to the brightness and contrast options menu.
When it launched in late October, Banjo was criticised for its tiny on-screen text, which was difficult to make out on smaller SDTVs, impossible to adjust, and important to making progress.
Rare is running a competition to find the best user-created vehicles in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts and plans to incorporate them in the game.
Rare has about-turned and decided to fix the problem with text that occurs when Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is played on a standard definition telly.
Rare has said that the small text in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts is unlikely to be adjusted to work on standard-definition TVs.
Cars, as a rule, don't hop up and down. It's not very good for them or the people inside them. Given the option though, we obviously would put springs on the bottom of ours, so when we stumbled into Banjo-Kazooie's Jiggoseum for the umpteenth time and were asked to join a three-lap checkpoint race of the arena, we were pleased to discover there would be hurdles. Made of bricks. But, alas, our satisfaction was only fleeting, as we turned out to be rubbish at car hurdles, because we only had two springs available at Mumbo Jumbo's garage, and it's rather difficult to balance the up-thrust of a pair of ACME Tigger-tails against the delicate immediacy of jet propulsion. Still, we weren't stumped for long. New solution: snow plough. Bye bye bricks.
This isn't a platform game, then. You can eke out hidden extras on-foot in the hub world, Showdown Town, but this is a driving, flying and boating game, with almost no player death or hairy jumps to worry about. You are collecting 131 jigsaw pieces (jiggies) - in much the same framework as Mario gathering stars - but every task begins by asking you to select or build a vehicle to fit the brief. You're never let loose on foot and then given the choice, and if you were, you wouldn't enjoy it, because the vast, ornately detailed openworld level environments would take several minutes to cross, and their thick bridges, riverbeds, hills, pathways, iceflows and buildings are impractical for platforming. They're either there to absorb your rubber, or look sexy as you deliver coconuts to a supply ship, barge Mr. Patch into a cactus with a biplane, or launch yourself off a ski-jump in a homemade toboggan.
Amidst all this detail, which the game happily displays without trickery or obfuscation - even directing a nod to Crackdown's Agency tower at one point - the frame-rate will dip below the stock 30 from time to time, and some of the load-times are appalling, but the overall effect is decent recompense. The first world, for example, is a charmingly fake and beautiful island of patchwork hills and fields with a tumbledown farm in the middle (it only takes a nudge), Playmobil flora and square cows in the meadows, a smouldering volcano to one side, and massive whirring mechanical gizmos off-shore operating a system of rotating metal rods in the sky, from which stitch-covered clouds are suspended by string. The whole level is surrounded by flickering, scan-line-covered panels of deep blue pretend. It's a very pretty place.
It's that time of year! The big guns are queuing up to fire their fun into your shopping baskets, and after Gears of War 2 on Monday we've got another two reviews today that we thought we'd trail for you.
First up will be Resistance 2. It came out in the US yesterday (as did logic, arguably), and is out here on 28th November. We liked the first one (well, I did), but had significant reservations. Has R2 improved enough to claim a higher score? Find out at 2pm GMT.
Then there's a general embargo for Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts reviews at 5pm GMT. We've been quietly excited about this one (apart from when I shouted about it) for a few months, but now it's time to find out whether Rare's decision to wrench the bear and bird out of their platforming comfort zone has been worthwhile. Look out for that at 5pm GMT.
Rare has cobbled together a Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts demo for Xbox Live.
Eurogamer is running out of ways to describe its pleasure at announcing things to announce that Gears of War 2 and Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts will both be playable at the Eurogamer Expo on 28th and 29th October.
Microsoft plans to release Rare's Nintendo 64 platformer Banjo-Kazooie for Xbox Live Arcade on 26th November. The price: 1200 MS Points (GBP 10.20 / EUR 14.40).
Just two months until release.
With only weeks to go before Rare's venerable Banjo-Kazooie franchise emerges from its decade-long slumber, the game is seriously taking shape. This week, at Microsoft's UK headquarters in Reading, we were able to go hands-on with almost finished (albeit not yet bug-free) code.
Although it confirmed the Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts release date a couple of weeks ago, Microsoft has now added that UK pre-orders will be rewarded with free access to the Xbox Live Arcade version of Banjo-Kazooie as well.
It's 10 years since Rare turned out the original Banjo-Kazooie on N64, in a blummin' marvellous platformer that rivalled Mario 64 in the gameplay stakes while charming us with the Britsoft studio's irresistibly quirky humour.
To make the series relevant to today's discerning gamer, the duo's long-awaited return this November in Nuts & Bolts sees Rare jumping on the user-created content bandwagon, offering a blend of traditional platforming and custom vehicle creation, with a big emphasis on the online community.
We recently visited Rare to take an in-depth look at how the game was shaping up, which you can read all about in our detailed preview , and go further behind the scenes in our Eurogamer TV Special .
Microsoft has announced that Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts will be released in the US on 14th November and confirmed to Eurogamer that it will be out here on the same day.
Rare has confirmed plans to release a Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts demo before the game's release in November, and outlined how the "Stop 'N' Swop" component that links Nuts & Bolts to the Xbox Live Arcade re-release of Banjo-Kazooie will work.
Multiplayer at last! And some new SP stuff.
Sadly, we are unable to settle the debate. We may have been invited to Rare to play Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts last week, but we cannot definitively confirm what percentage is platforming and what percentage is racing. Apart from being impossible to quantify, this is because - after several hours of egg-and-spoon races in shopping trolleys and playing darts with soapbox racers and a ski-jump - we don't care. You too will get over it, we suspect, once you've spent a few minutes in the vehicle editor.
It's not been an easy few years for Rare. It's a cliché to point it out, of course - you'd be hard-pressed to find an article about Rare in the last few years that doesn't mention its fall from grace following Microsoft's buyout, and we've no doubt that the studio is sick of hearing about it.
The first thing you need to know about Banjo-Kazooie's expansive E3 demo is the one that's going to get the traditionalists shaking and sputtering with rage: you don't do very much platforming in it. The second thing you need to know, following close on the heels of the first, is that that's fine, because it's still great fun.
Rare told Eurogamer there is no truth to rumours there will be motion control functionality in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts.
Microsoft plans to give us a look at Halo Wars during the upcoming July E3 event, as well as reveal more about headline-grabber Gears of War 2.
Banjo-Kazooie creator Gregg Mayles believes the platform-adventure genre "needed shaking up", and that Nuts & Bolts is the game to do it.
As we all sit around rubbing hoof-shaped marks out of our foreheads, Microsoft has whipped open the stable doors and explained what's going on at its event in San Francisco - confirming names and details for Banjo-Kazooie and Viva Piñata sequels among other things.
Big news first: Cliff Bleszinski will be on hand in San Francisco to show off "dramatic new gameplay elements" in Gears of War 2 using a "campaign sequence from early in the game - where Marcus Fenix and COG forces engage in pulse-pounding firefights between two Derrick transports, fend off vicious Reaver fly-by attacks and rabid Brumaks" ahead of the game's November release on 360. Ellie is currently checking her pencil batteries and sharpening her dictaphone, so expect her report on all that very soon.
What's more, Too Human developer Silicon Knights has announced that the game will be out in the US on 19th August and in Europe on 29th August, giving us the chance to stab futuristic vikings in the face with inadequately researched contextual comments [very post-modern - Ed].
Banjo-Kazooie 3 is to be suffixed Nuts & Bolts and will let you dynamically build vehicles as you collect parts around each level.
Rare has told Eurogamer that Banjo-Kazooie 3 is not a racing game and that you are better off waiting for its official unveiling tomorrow before jumping to conclusions.
Mechanical mayhem from Rare.
Rare has decided to let you guess at the plot in upcoming title Banjo-Kazooie 3.
Rare has confirmed that the first Xbox 360 instalment in the Banjo-Kazooie series is on track for a Christmas release.
According to man-in-the-know George Kelion, posting on NeoGaf, "The game is scheduled for a holiday 2008 release - barring the coming of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, you should be playing Banjo 3 before the end of the year (providing you buy the game, that is)."
Kelion went on to confirm that Banjo's creator, Gregg Mayles, is lead designer on the game, and sought to calm fears it's going to be one for the kids.
Rare has said that part of its "new direction" for Banjo-Kazooie 3 will involve introducing a "unique" multiplayer mode unlike anything currently out there.
Microsoft Game Studios boss Shane Kim has confirmed that the Marvel Universe MMO has been canned.
A source at UK developer Rare has told GamesIndustry.biz that its Banjo-Kazooie title for Xbox 360 has not been cancelled, despite rumours to the contrary.
There is speculation that development of a major, first-party Microsoft title has been stopped. But, if true, this is "definitely not" Banjo-Kazooie, says the source at the Microsoft-owned developer.
Rumours have intensified since Shane Bettenhausen, of US magazine EGM, mentioned them on last week's 1up Yours podcast.
We won't be hearing much about Rare's new Banjo-Kazooie game for a while, says Rare, and when we do we might be surprised at what we do hear.
Rare concept artist Ryan Stevenson has been blabbing about Banjo Kazooie for Xbox 360, telling us to expect a whole new world built on new, next-generation technology.
Good news for fans of the N64 originals - a top Microsoft exec has told Eurogamer that the original team responsible for Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie is working on the new 360 instalment announced at last week's X06.