Playtonic, the new game studio formed by ex-Rare employees and currently at work on the Banjo-Kazooie-inspired 3D platformer Yooka-Laylee, conducted an AMA on Reddit today, where many previously unknown facts about your favorite Rare games of the past were revealed. Here are fourteen of the best:
Development of Kazooie [Steve Mayles] Banjo was already designed with a backpack and we needed a double jump, so we just had some wings come out of it. Then later we needed a fast run move so had some legs come out. Eventually it just made sense to have a whole character in there… it was never the plan to start with! ([Gavin Price:] This is a good example of naturally evolving game design)
Crunch time for the original Donkey Kong Country Towards the end of Donkey Kong Country, we had to prepare a build to send to Nintendo so we were working all days – it was a Saturday morning and I awoke to hear a noise at my window, which was odd as I was in a first floor flat. It was Gregg Mayles and Tim Stamper throwing stones at my window! I had overslept and they had driven around to wake me up! I rushed in and Tim had bought a fast food breakfast and placed it on my desk so I could get started typing right away!
The creative process of Playtonic and Rare [Gavin Price] We don’t try and make the entire game all up front – we evolve ideas as development progresses and the need for them arises. If you do it that way, you can spin new ideas off the back of your work in progresses. In comparison, I feel that planning everything up front can sometimes restrict your creativity.
Favorite worlds in the Banjo games [Steve Mayles] I’ve always liked Treasure Trove Cove because you got to fly for the first time, which was a great moment. Jolly Roger’s Lagoon is my fav in Tooie because Captain Blackeye made an appearance – originally he was drunk but we had to change it to seasick!
Why Yooka and Laylee are a chameleon and a bat [Steve Mayles] My initial idea was a tiger as they are great-looking animals, but he never got past the sketch phase. He was deemed a bit too much of a ‘hero’ when all of my past characters were more like underdogs. We even tried a witch and a broom with eyes at one point!
Is one of the pictures in Banjo’s house artwork from Dream, the cancelled game that turned into B/K? [Steve Mayles] I think one of them may have been from Dream, yes.
Who is Mr. X? [Steve Mayles] He was replaced with the giant skeleton that chases you on the fairground level.
Are there B/K and B/T worlds that were created but never put into the game? [Mark Stevenson] There was definitely nothing worked on. I think Crystal Caves in DK64 might have originally started off as a Banjo-Kazooie world though.
Did Microsoft kill Rare? [Gavin Price] From my perspective Microsoft were always really supportive and positive. All of the creative decisions since the buyout were made by Rare management and Microsoft backed them. There are a lot of talented people at Rare and we’re really looking forward to seeing what they’ve got to show at E3.
Why there won’t be a physical release for Yooka-Laylee [Gavin Price] We would love to be able to do it at some point if we can, but for launch it would mean having to finish the game 2 months earlier in order to get the discs printed. We want more time to make the game!
If Gavin could have any of Banjo or Kazooie’s abilities in real life [Gavin Price] Wonderwing so I could walk into people down the highstreet. Pooping eggs would save on the shopping bill too.
What does “Baldy Nozz” mean? [Steve Mayles] That’s a nickname for [fellow Rare composer] Graeme Norgate. I think it came about when one day Grant was calling out ‘baldy!’ at Graeme and at that exact moment Chris Stamper – who is also bald – walked in, so he had to quickly stick ‘Nozz’ on the end.
What does Stop-N-Swop really do? [Gavin Price] I didn’t get to use SNS in Tooie, but I did get to bring the ice key into DK64 as a tester! That feature was canned obviously. (He’s not lying: code has been found in DK64 relating to the Ice Key. Beta screenshots show a fridge with Banjo and Kazooie on it in Donkey Kong’s hut, and a dummied-out cutscene uses that location to take you to Crystal Caves.)
Will there be nods to old Rare games in Yooka-Laylee? Only ones that don’t get us sued.