Beta64 – Donkey Kong Racing / Sabreman Stampede

Beta64 – Donkey Kong Racing / Sabreman Stampede


Hello, and welcome to Beta64 minis! Where I discuss the complete known development of a video game in less than eight minutes! Today, we’re going to be talking about Donkey Kong Racing, an unreleased GameCube sequel to Diddy Kong Racing! So what do ya say? Let’s begin. After Diddy Kong Racing’s release in November of 1997, Rare began work on the games sequel: Donkey Kong Racing for the Nintendo Gamecube! Years past, and in E3 2001… The game was shown off to the public for the first time, with an impressive pre-rendered teaser video. This video shows off some of the areas that where going to be present in the game, with Donkey Kong and his pals riding through them on various animals. These pals include: Taj the Genie from Diddy Kong Racing, Diddy Kong himself, as well as Tiny Kong, and Kiddy Kong. While these characters where the only ones that appeared in the trailer, a render that we have here shows that shows that both Cranky Kong, and Lanky Kong, where also planned to be playable at some point too. Now you probably have noticed at least one big departure from Diddy Kong Racing: Instead of driving carts, planes, and hovercrafts, they’re riding familiar animals from the Donkey Kong universe! Rambi the Rhino, Enguarde the Swordfish, Expresso the Ostrich, and Zingers. As well as some other presumably rideable characters that are pictured here. Going back, I want you to take a look at the beginning of the footage, paying close attention to these rhinos that DK, Taj, and Diddy Kong are riding. Notice the size difference between them. That’s not just some random thing, that was a feature of the game! By collecting food and prizes from races, you could turn your animals into (what the press release calls) “True thoroughbreds.” In other words, collecting items in the game allows you to upgrade your animals in order to make them better in races. Some other features of the game where also described in the same press release too. Like: “Ride through a blooming jungle scenery, teeming with wild-life of all kinds!” And: “Experience real world phenomena, like fading sunlight, shifting shadows, swaying trees, etc.” Overall, it sounds like the areas in this game were going to look beautiful! In fact, these areas weren’t only going to look great, but they where also going to be stitched together into a Huge. Seamless. World! Where the lines between the tracks and the environment where blurred. In Rare’s own words: “It’s YOUR job to pick out the racing line, amidst those marauding rihnos, hungry piranha, and seething wasps, if you can!” In order to adapt to the changing terrain, you could also have changed the animal that you where riding mid-way through the race. Because, as a former Rare staff employee mentioned: Animals had different properties depending on what they where. Bigger animals could smash through obstacles, while smaller ones where much more maneuverable. Falling off your animal was also a thing in this game, and you would’ve had to repeatedly tap a button in order to get back on and continue racing. In addition to the variety of animals and big beautiful world, there was also going to be an amazing orchestrated soundtrack, with everything being played back in Dolby Digital surround sound. Basically, Rare was going out of their way to make this world as realistic as possible. At least as realistic as you can get with a bunch of apes riding swordfish. With this game’s release set sometime in 2002, everyone was excited to hear more about Donkey Kong Racing at Space World 2001, or perhaps even ECTS later in September. But it never appeared, never again. In fact, the development of the game didn’t even continue after this point. During that time, Rare was going through some… small changes. Game development had been getting more expensive as time went on, and Nintendo wasn’t providing the company with the capital needed to keep going. So, Rare’s founders (Tim and Chris Stamper) offered the remaining 51% of their company to Nintendo for purchase, however, much to their surprise, Nintendo turned down the offer, and so they went out in search of another potential buyer. Activision and Microsoft where both interested in purchasing the company, however, Microsoft won the battle over Rare thanks to the $375 million dollars they payed for it in 2002. Obviously, at this point it was impossible for the team to keep developing Donkey Kong Racing, as they no longer worked with Nintendo and didn’t have permission to use the characters. The team didn’t want their game to go to waste though. So, they started reworking it for Xbox using an older IP of Rares, or should I say, an older of Ultimate Play the Game: Sabre Wulf! These games came out for the ZX Spectrum in the 80’s, but Sabreman himself has made an appearance in other Rare games too, like Banjo-Tooie. In 2003 Microsoft trademarked the name “Sabreman Stampede” for the games title, and in March of 2004, when asked if Rare was still working on Donkey Kong Racing, they said, and I quote: But… it wasn’t still coming out, because in late 2004, two other Rare games, Kameo and Perfect Dark: Zero, where being ported from the Xbox to the 360, and because the Kameo Team didn’t have enough people on hand to do this, the team working on Sabreman Stampede where recruited. Fun Fact: If you look at the credits part of the Kameo Manual and look under special thanks you’ll notice that the Stampede Team is mentioned. In order to help Kameo though, the Stampede Team had to put their game on hold despite the fact that they where already in the middle of porting Sabreman Stampede to the 360 as well. Six years later, the game was officially cancelled. But why? Well, according to Lee Musgrave, even though the team felt that they had a great Xbox prototype of the game, someone, somewhere, decided that it was too “Old School” for the Xbox. “Too old School”!? “Too old School”!!?? *Sigh* Anyway, slowly but surely they where told to keep making changes and “evolving” the game, until eventually, it wasn’t even the same game they started with. And quietly, our last hope of playing Donkey Kong Racing in some form died… But that wasn’t the end. In 2008, someone posted footage of an early prototype of Sabreman Stampede, and we finally got to see what our beloved Donkey Kong Racing became! It became… something completely, unexpectedly different. Instead of being a racer, the game had been transformed into a 3D platforming adventure. However, despite being so different, there are some similar ideas between the two cancelled games. Sabreman rides animals much like Donky Kong and his friends did, and these animals also vary in size, speed, and maneuverability. Plus, you could also switch between the animals in the middle of riding them, much like how Donkey Kong Racing was supposed to do the same thing. In order to ride an animal in Sabreman Stampede, though, you would first have to shoot the animal with a rope gun, which was actually pretty controversial among the team for quote un-quote “animal abuse”. But now that you’re attached, you have to avoid collisions and rotate your body until you’ve reached the animal, and then just stay on it for a few seconds. At that point, it’s yours to control! But what can you do with your new found steed? Nothing much. I mean you can knock over trees and destroy buildings, but in the footage there’s really no purpose to it. In fact, what on earth was supposed to be the objective of this game? Well, as it turns out, the story went a little like this: Sabreman and his wife Flo crash land on an island, and while on the island it’s YOUR job to do tasks for villagers you meet and befriend, and by finding new animals, you’ll be able to reach different places on the island. aaaand that’s really as far as it got. It sure is a lot different than Donkey Kong Racing, huh? And that’s basically the reason it was cancelled. The severe lack of story, game progression, and barely anything resembling objectives, is what drove this game into the grave. The team just lost focus on what the game was supposed to be. So what started out as an incredibly innovative racer, eventually lost what it was trying to achieve and never came back. Well, I guess Sabreman himself did eventually come back and get his own game in 2004 for the GameBoy Advance, but it’s still far from the racer that we had hoped for for a long time. And so, that’s the tragic tale of Donkey Kong Racing. If you’d like to see how other Rare games where created, check out full Beta64 episodes on Banjo-Tooie and Conker’s Bad Fur Day. But until next time, this has been Beta64. Thanks for watching. 🙂

100 Replies to “Beta64 – Donkey Kong Racing / Sabreman Stampede”

  1. On the one hand it's sad that the brilliant ideas of Donkey Kong Racing weren't implemented, but on the other hand I'm just glad that Kiddy Kong is officially dead, that Dixie wasn't once again replaced by Tiny and that Taj didn't get to ride elephants or tiny rhinos.

  2. So Rare was making a caveman-themed RTS… that was changed into a racing game… that had DKC characters shoehorned in at the last minute… that then earned a sequel starring MORE DKC characters… that was shelved because Rare no longer had the rights to those characters… that later became a platformer that was a spinoff of an obscure ZX Spectrum game.

    What a roller coaster ride.

  3. Man, the Saberman platformer looks like it could have been pretty fun. It's a real shame, especially since the good ol' 360 was sort of lacking in the platformer department

  4. Huh. So what was supposed to be a racer became a platformer, and what was supposed to be a platformer (supposedly) became a racer.

  5. Sabreman Stampede sounds like what would happen if you put The Simpsons: Hit and Run, Banjo-Kazooie, and Donkey Kong Country in a blender.

  6. Not gonna lie
    That Sabreman Stampede prototype looks fun as hell. Obviously it lacks purpose, but I would play the shit out of a game like that.

  7. I Have Anouncement, Will Someone Make A Fangame Of Gamecube Roms Of Donkey Kong Racing And Saberman Standpede, These Two Will Send Into Gamejolt And It Was Finally See The Light Of Day, So I Command Some of You Will Make These Games And Become The Gamecube Roms, And We Can Do This For Rareware And Nintendo!!

  8. This is so depressing. I feel so bad for the people at Rare so many good ideas where destroyed. I hope Playtonic can make a game like the original Donkey Kong Racing (w/o DK characters of course) because I would love to play it

  9. another story about Rare making great games but end up getting canceled. Wow they did deserve to go down.

  10. Plus they there last game was conkers bad fur day and even though it was good it had poor sales so Nintendo didn't have a lot of to support so they could not make those offers to save rare

  11. 5:40 That's what they get for working with Microsoft. Granted, they wouldn't have been any better off with Activision *shudders*. MS wants all their games to copy the current trends in gaming. Everything is becoming a shooter? Do that. Everything is going online and becoming a "service"? Do that. It's sad, but it just goes to show that when it comes to games, Americans don't know shit.

  12. Such great concepts and ideas could've provided us with a solid alternative/accompaniment to Mario Kart.
    Fuck it! Just take the core concepts and evolve them into something amazing, Nintendo!

  13. Beta 64, You should've also mentioned that Rare did try to make another sequel to Diddy Kong Racing, this time for the GBA calling it Diddy Kong Pilot….which eventually became Banjo-Pilot.

  14. Thanks, when I saw the Diddy Kong Racing, that game imediately come in mind.
    Still a huge loss, nobody thought of a look alike even now…

  15. They would have been much better off with Activision. Microsoft destroyed Rareware. Unfortunately. :/ Nintendo why did you abandon your best side company??

  16. Another game lost to the attitude publishers had towards older game styles in the sixth and seventh generations. It's really unfortunate how many games were lost due to being "too old school" or "too unmarketable" or focus tested out of existence.

  17. donkey kong racing would be better game because it would be better than mario kart 64 I believe that nintendo and rareware should go back to work together and bring back donkey kong racing on the nintendo switch because donkey kong racing would have been a awesome game and hope that one day that nintendo and rareware go back to work together

  18. I waited forever for this game ever since I saw pics in a Nintendo magazine. I eagerly expected all the games that Rare announced for the GameCube that never came out. A goddamn shame really

  19. ..8 minutes or less?
    stares at time finds max length to 8:21
    HERETIC! TYAWRWAGTWLEGMWAOEMHWAROHMWAP</EYH:$%{UIL$%UI$%!

  20. I want to physically break the idiots head who said this was to old school

    TO OLD FUCKING SCHOOL!!!

    IS NUTS AND BLOODY BOLTS SOME HOW A COOL IDEA!!!

  21. I almost cried when I saw what they've done to Donkey Kong Racing in this video. So much potential for a great sequel to Diddy Kong Racing!! Why must it be this way?! =,(…….

  22. Bahhh, it was still only a tech demo, nothing playable. But it would have been very nice to ride animals in Donkey Kong Barrel blasts instead of those stupid barrels, and no ropes attached. on the sides.

  23. When he started talking about donkey kong racing i was like… What the fuck??? Did i actually miss a whole ass game and i started looking for game play ong cost for a new disk and finally i came back to watch the rest of the video and i was like ohhhhhhhhh

  24. Damn, I would’ve loved to play this game in some form. Saberman Stampede looked awesome even if it was different.

  25. I had a dream about donkey Kong racing last night but it was like diddy's kong racing with the n64 graphics and they where driving the karts from diddy's kong racing and they where all diddy's size and chunky kong was squished in a two foot bug kart.

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