The topic of Rare as a company is a sensitive one among Nintendo fans. Creating some truly iconic Nintendo-system classics such as Donkey Kong Country and Banjo-Kazooie, the developer’s severed connection to Nintendo in the present day is the source of much grievance for players who grew up on these games.
Rare now stands under the umbrella of one of Nintendo’s direct competitors, but older Nintendo fans love to look back on the glory days of when it was still developing for the Japanese company. Recently, Rare opened up about a canceled project they had been working on back in those days, originally for the SNES and later for the Nintendo 64, before being scrapped entirely. The game was called Dream, and it was a pirate-themed role playing game featuring a young boy named Edson.
Designer Gregg Mayles, artist Ed Bryan, and engineer Paul Machacek discuss, in a video released through Rare’s official YouTube channel, some of the details regarding Dream, and how they rediscovered the canceled project through the making of Rare Replay for the Xbox One.
The game originally used the graphics rendering technology of Rare’s hit Donkey Kong Country, which was also made for the SNES. By use of these assets, their goal was to present an isometric, “fairy tale-esque” adventure following their main protagonist. Later, Rare switched development over to the N64, which had better hardware capabilities, benefiting the title. However, as the game developed further, their protagonist transformed from their young boy Edson to a rabbit, and then later, a bear.
A bear protagonist on the N64? If that sounds familiar, good. Yes, their main protagonist quickly became a bear by the name of Banjo, one of Rare’s most iconic characters. The development company claimed that, as they worked on Dream, they realized that the project was “too ambitious” and that at some point, they stopped seeing the fun in the game they were trying to create. And of course, there’s no point in trying to make a game if not even the developers can see the fun in it, so they completely overhauled the project and rethought their adventure. They decided to play towards their platforming strengths, using their new character Banjo and a few assets from the cancelled game to create Banjo-Kazooie, the ever popular N64 classic.
Though Dream sounds like it had the potential to be a beautiful and fascinating adventure, it’s weird to think that had its development continued, Banjo-Kazooie might not have existed at all. While I’m sure there are plenty of fans out there that are grateful for the change, it’s still interesting to think about how the butterfly effect can work in any situation.
I suppose Dream will always be a “what could have been” situation for Nintendo. Though it might have been a cool title to add to the collection of old console classics, it seems like it could have been at the cost of another beloved character. And while it’s not completely fair to judge a game that was never created, maybe this change was for the better in the end.
Be sure to check out the entire video discussion below!