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Banjo-Kazooie predecessor Dream finally unveiled, decades after cancellation

After leaving the project shrouded in mystery for nearly two decades, developer Rare has at last pulled back the curtain on Dream, a graphically rich role-playing game that was eventually scrapped and rebuilt as the company’s landmark Nintendo 64 platformer Banjo-Kazooie.

Initially envisioned as an RPG for the 16-bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Dream: Land of Giants used graphical rendering techniques featured in 1994’s Donkey Kong Country, giving the game a distinctive art style. Dream employed a close-up, isometric perspective, and would have featured an expansive quest in which players battled evil pirates.

Though screenshots and footage from early versions of Banjo-Kazooie are publicly available, media featuring Dream never surfaced online. This week’s release of Rare’s mini-documentary marks the first time Dream has been showcased in its original form.

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“We thought we could take the graphic technology we developed for Donkey Kong [Country] and then apply that to a different type of game,” designer Gregg Mayles explains.

“It was supposed to be a step beyond Donkey Kong Country in terms of graphical fidelity,” engineer Paul Machacek recalls. “I have to say, it did look amazing at the time.”

Dream‘s development later shifted to the Nintendo 64, where its theme and storyline targeted an older audience. The project lost focus afterward, and Rare began toying with the idea of replacing its human protagonist with a bear character. After seeing Nintendo’s Super Mario 64 in action, Rare placed its bear character in a fully 3D world, and development of Banjo-Kazooie began in earnest.

Though Dream was never released, elements from its Nintendo 64 incarnation still exist in the retail version of Banjo-Kazooie. Banjo-Kazooie‘s pirate-themed enemies and tropical environments can trace their origins back to the cancelled Dream project.

Rare previously reported that it was developing a sequel to Conker’s Bad Fur Day in the mid-2000s that never saw a retail release, and recently revealed that Nintendo pushed for a less violent version of its Nintendo 64 first-person shooter GoldenEye 007. Many of the company’s biggest hits are collected in Rare Replay, a compilation released earlier this year for the Xbox One.