Scribes - December 20, 2007
It's the stupid Rare letters page! Send us your mail! Festive cheer courtesy of champagne from the Rare Xmas hampers!
Hello Leif Eriksson (or whatever your name was),
     There's one thing that makes me chuckle about the Perfect Dark series, and that would be the fact that it's set twenty minutes in the future (see here). What did the designers think when they decided this? What will gamers think of the PD series come the year 2020? I mean, for now this is Perfect Dark 2's estimated year of release, so you'll have to hurry to come up with an explanation for all those pseudo-futuristic devices that will be non-existent by then, or else your first-person shooter fans might have to wait until the "50 years of Perfect Dark" anniversary for their game.
     ...Oh, you don't need to thank me for reminding you. It was a pleasure, really. Now will you stop staring at me like this? *tries to change the topic*
     ...Anyway, I was wondering about Tiny Kong's redesign in DKR DS. The change was certainly a welcome surprise that added some depth to the DK series, where characters actually age (suck it, Mario!). Nevertheless, I was wondering if Tiny's change of appearance was Rare's idea or not, since her adolescent form could already be seen on a screenshot of the Wii-ported GameCube title DK Barrel Blast, which was announced on the same E3 as DKR DS.
     I suppose that's it for now. Now answer my questions or, uhm, feel the consequences (hah, that sounded good). Just one more thing: Should the rumo(u)rs come true and you release a DK64 port on the DS, do us players a small favo(u)r and make all bananas, coins and blueprints unicolo(u)red so we can collect them with every Kong. The constant backtracking is really annoying, you know. Hey, have you seen how considerate I was by inserting all those British U's? Now you pretty much have to do it in return!
     Graf Saecula
Time to outsource the responses again! It's the last working week of the year, it's not like I'm interrupting anything important.
     Duncan on PD: "Only one thing makes you chuckle? It has aliens in. I tend to believe this trumps your sorry attempt to make us feel bad. The entire backstory for PD is one based on covert alien contact and relations with Earth from the middle of the last century. They have flying cars. Inexhaustible energy. They have it now, in timeline terms. It's more an alternate past than twenty-minutes-into-the-future. Most of the smaller stuff – futuristic non-alien devices and weapons – were based on cool, but already established or prototyped technology because they were what piqued our interest during the game's creation.
     "I won't thank you for anything if you're not actually correct. Go away and bother Gabe Newell about why you aren't currently being brutally suppressed by a fascistic Overwatch."
     DS team on Tiny: "Tiny was not our idea, but simply a realigning of the Kong family at Nintendo."
     Unicoloured bananas? Where the hell's the fun in that? You'll be asking us to ease off the googly eyes and stupid character names next.
Hello from Australia!
     My name is Lindsay (I'm a guy by the way), I had no idea that you guys were still operating, let alone had a website. When I was told that Rareware still existed I was elated, Rareware has (quite happily mind you) created some of the best gaming moments of my childhood. I almost fried my N64 completing every aspect of games like Banjo-Kazooie and Diddy Kong Racing, their sheer brilliance still amazes me. Anyway, enough ranting, questions!
     Will the appearance of Banjo and Kazooie undergo such a radical change? I saw pictures of them for Banjo-Threeie about 10 minutes prior to writing this and, well, they've changed a lot. I know it's probably nostalgia getting in the way, but will they take this appearance in the new game? (Which I'm stoked about by the way, the last I saw of Banjo and Kazooie they were a stuffed head and an umbrella handle.) Is it the Microsoft move that has caused the change?
     One last thing, did you ever plan to take the mask off Mumbo?
     Keep the games coming.
Let's hand over to Gregg on the Banjo team for the usual cocktail of elucidation and mild slurs.
     "Yes, even Rare has moved into the modern era by getting itself a fancy website (although I think we were pretty much last to do so).
     "Banjo's new look resulted from Rare's opinion that he needed an update. The previous games were very young-looking and the industry has moved on. Even younger gamers do not want their games to look overly young. We think the updated look has a distinctive style and really suits the whole theme of the new game (of course this means absolutely nothing to you at the moment as we haven't revealed what it is).
     "It was decided that Mumbo would wear a mask long before the character was modelled, so the lazy artist responsible never modelled Mumbo's face. So he hasn't got one and no-one knows what he would look like. If he ever took off his mask there would just be a creepy-looking blank wall of flesh."
Dear Scribes,
     Wow, I feel honoured that you would actually let me bug you with my own opinions and stupid questions. What a great company. Anyways, enough sucking up so I can get my question on the Scribes page, and aboot the questions...
     What rating are you aiming at for Banjo 3? Other than the stealth kills and decapitations I would rate it pretty harmless to a kid, just wondering, 'cause ya know what happened to Twelve Tales...
     Secondly congrats on your return to form Rare! (Don't kill me.) Viva Piñata and the sequels and now Banjo 3, great job!
     I've probably been annoying enough for this year, but I haven't seen any really obvious information on an internship program for your company. As you could probably tell by my accent, I live in Canada, the land of X0 events, and I was wondering where I could find more information aboot this.
Yeah, why do we let you bug us with your opinions and stupid questions? I need to go away and have a serious think about this.
     Team says: "Have no fear – Banjo will remain E-rated. Although recent Microsoft directives have decreed that all games must have at least 20 guns to choose from and include a gritty level based in a real life city. Only joking. Make the most of our 'return to form' as after Banjo we're going to be doing rubbish again."
     On the subject of internships, you may want to look at the big page marked Interns here. I've also been told to say that while we welcome applications from international candidates, those from outside of Europe will (if successful) have to apply for the appropriate visa to work in the UK. Which may not necessarily be easy, but it is worth it for the Chewits and Frazzles.
What's a frog's favourite drink? Crowla... no, I've done this wrong
Okay Scribes,
     Who knows what's going to change from now to the time you post a new Scribes, but damn, why not change your website's name to At the time I sent this there were a bunch of piñatas at the top of your homepage, what looks like a picture of a Piñata action figure, two Piñata MP3s in the MP3 player, two Piñata downloads, an entire Piñata encyclopedia, and don't even get me started on the news and updates section. Why? Whatever happened to Jetpac? Did that just fade away into nothingness?
     What about the new Banjo game that you've been torturing us fans with? Ever clawing at our computer screens in agony, our hopes being crushed after every gameshow, why... WHY SCRIBES, WHY?!!? You're driving us insane Scribes... YOU'RE DRIVING US INSANE! GIVE US A MUFFIN – NOW! NO! SCREENSHOT! YES... a delightful screenshot with... with pictures of Grunty and Mumbo and happy little Jinjos frolicking in the waste pits of Grunty Industries... and so help me if those Jinjos whistle... so help me Scribes... No! I apologise Scribes, I shouldn't take my anger out on you. I've been a bad fan. I'm just a little angry. I probably won't be angry when you read this. Or will I? Maybe I'll be happy? BECAUSE I SAW A BANJO-KAZOOIE 3 SCREENSHOT. NOOOOOO! Happy thoughts, happy... Jinjos... pretty colours... yes... calm now. In a nutshell: We want more Banjo information.
     Dallin Carroll
That's all very well, and hopefully the random bits of Banjo info scattered around this page will keep you mollified until the next announcement. However, Viva Piñata was our last big game release, and what's wrong with a steady stream of post-launch coverage? Yes, there was DKR DS too, but Nintendo like to handle the promotion of their own self-published titles. And Viva Piñata on DS is one of our next big releases. And we haven't said a lot about the games beyond that. And the PC version of Viva Piñata is out there with Viva Piñata: Party Animals soliciting sales over the festive period. All in all, that's a pretty good set of reasons to keep pushing VP on our website, and a less than entirely convincing argument for us to stop.
     As for Jetpac Refuelled, we gave it a section of its own rather than one page in a general XBLA section as we'd originally considered, we put together the team interview, we added all three in-game tracks to the MP3 player, we spent weeks on the saucy Flash game guide, what else do you want? A voucher for 50% off an actual jetpack, fuelled by our own blood?
     Anyway, there's always this year's Xmas card for fresh Banjo speculation. Because you've got to speculate to accumulate! Whatever that means.
     I'm a long-time Rare fan and would like to ask a few questions:
     1. I've heard you guys are leaving the decision of your classic N64 games appearing on Nintendo's Virtual Console service up to Nintendo. What about the N64 classics on XBLA? Any chance of seeing Banjo or even Nintendo's Donkey Kong on XBLA?
     2. I love Perfect Dark Zero. It's my favourite game to play online. Is there any update or anything planned for the future? New maps or weapons or anything?
     3. People have asked plenty about Banjo-Kazooie for the 360, but have there ever been thoughts on a new Jet Force Gemini or Conker game? Or even a 3D version of a classic like Jetpac? Anything to look forward to after Viva Piñata DS and Banjo Kazooie 3?
     Robbie Hannaway
1. Of course it's up to Nintendo, it's their service. DK on XBLA seems singularly unlikely – Banjo and the rest are at least within the realms of possibility, but we've got no news for you today, guv.
     2. As we've already seen, PDZ team reps are not only still on the premises but even answering their email: "Thank you for telling us! It's always nice to hear when people enjoy your work. I'm sorry to say that all work has stopped on PDZ... it stopped some time ago with the release of the second Map Pack. There are no plans for any further content."
     3. There's plenty to look forward to after VP DS and the new Banjo. We just haven't gone into any great detail yet. Or, in fact, any detail at all. But surely that's what you love about us? Exotic mystique, that's what it is.
Dear Rare,
     First off, I must say that Viva Piñata is one of the best things ever. Everything about this game – from the way the Piñatas stop to examine each other curiously, to the way ponds reflect the brilliantly blue sky on a clear day – is absolutely wonderful. As of now I am eagerly awaiting Viva Piñata Party Animals, which is sure to be brilliantly good fun.
     Anyway, I must now get to the main point of my letter. It has now been over a year since you showed us that short but oh so sweet Banjo trailer at X06 (am I the only one who likes the new graphical style?). I must ask, can you please, please, please give us some information about it? Anything will do. And I mean anything. Just as long as it isn't something along the lines of "the green monsters on the Isle o' Hags who run around and attack you will return". Come on, please?
     Or failing that, you could tell me how Stop N Swop was supposed to work.
     That's all I have to say. Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you even more if you publish this in the next issue of of Scribes.
Duly submitted to the head of the Banjo team (who was also previously on the VP team and is therefore useful for answering this kind of double-barrelled email, probably much to his annoyance).
     "Such kind words! I wanted all the Piñata species to 'examine each other curiously' by acting like dogs, but a whole garden full of animals sniffing butts seemed a trifle excessive.
     "How about this for Banjo information? 'There are no green monsters in the Isle of Hags and there is no Isle of Hags.' OK, perhaps that wasn't much. So take a look at Rare's festive greetings card for a real sneak preview and speculation starter. Oh, and you might be interested to know that Banjo and Kazooie haven't got many of the abilities that they used in previous games. Now that's confused you, hasn't it?"
Dear Scribe-a-ma-bob,
     Would you (Rare) ever consider releasing a Nintendo DS version of Jetpac Refuelled, for two reasons, Bizarre Creations are doing a similar thing with Geometry Wars on the DS, the second reason being that it would be simply awesome to play two of my three favourite XBLA games whilst on the move. Not to mention soon, you will be releasing Viva Piñata on DS which should be sweet (cool, etc.) so I can also play a retail game on my DS as well as an excellent collection of XBLA games whilst either travelling from country to country, or whilst travelling from my bedroom to the kitchen (it's a long walk). Do you have any other games in the pipeline for the DS??? Perhaps some new IP? Since you're in the games industry as is Epic Games, ask them to do a DS game of Gears of War too, because as we all know Rare is amazing and can get people to do things that they don't expect. (I ask because Epic don't reply to my emails, I wonder why?)
     360-related questions: will there be an expansion pack to Viva Piñata? Will you do a sequel to the prequel of PDZ?
     Thanks for your time. Has anyone ever said, "You're as daft as a brush!!!". Just thought I should spread the word, considering you're a brush is all. Feel free to dissect my grammar and spelling since I blatantly insulted all of brush kind. Or maybe the intelligent responses are to curb the stereotypes of the brush race?
I'm not a brush, you buffoon. It's just a picture. Do you send emails to Kelloggs asking how they persuaded a tiger to help them make cereal?
     Regarding your question, have a polite, helpful and not at all misleading response from the DS team: "Yes, of course, we'll consider doing anything. Just don't expect us to do more than consider things. I can exclusively reveal that our next DS game is Killer Instinct vs Battletoads Corps in Grunty's Revenge Land." OMFG SWEET.
     VP expansions seem unlikely at this stage. The sequel to Perfect Dark Zero is called Perfect Dark. If you literally mean a sequel to the prequel to PDZ, we haven't even done a prequel to PDZ yet, and it probably wouldn't cover very interesting ground considering Jo would be 12 or something.
Hey Scribes, BOO! (I hope this gets posted around Halloween)
     I'm absolutely SICK of people asking for Banjo-Kazooie on Virtual Console. Why the hell hasn't anyone thought of Banjo on Xbox Live Arcade!? But I ask you, is it even possible to release Banjo-Kazooie on the Arcade? I don't see why not, I mean you own the franchise, not Nintendo. You would just have to remove any and all references to Nintendo, which would probably be a pain in the – how you Brits say – "arse." But wouldn't that be cool? Maybe release Banjo-Tooie along with it and call the whole thing Banjo-Kazooie-Tooie.
     Speaking of Banjo and Xbox Live, are you guys planning any downloadable content for the third game? Levels would be the preferred item, but nothing big like expansion packs, just individual levels. Character skins would be nice, too; I'd get to rampage the Isle of Hags with Dragon Kazooie.
     So I go to your eye-melting blue website one day to download the Banjo-Kazooie theme song rock remix from Kameo but discover that it's non-existent! The game's been out for almost two years and it's still not downloadable? I'm tired of going into that weed's hut just to hear that awesome music. You should put it in your MP3 section. Now. Or else I won't buy Banjo-Kazooie 3.
     Viva Piñata on the PC and the DS? And a party spinoff on the 360? Just which of these projects are you fully involved in? Party games rarely (excuse the possible pun) work well when the game doesn't involve an Italian plumber from Brooklyn. And I already have Viva Piñata for the Xbox 360. Though I would want the DS version so I can take my Piñatas with me wherever I go, why would I want it a third time for the PC? Is Microsoft trying to milk a solid gold cash cow by assigning other developers with games that you originally made?
     Bryan Skinner
Halloween? Bit optimistic, aren't you? Here's the Banjo team on Banjo-Kazooie-Tooie: "Or even Banjo-KazTooie? Let's just get the new 360 game finished before we consider anything else. If it proves successful then we may well cash in by flogging all the dead horses again, but if it flops we'll shuffle broken-heartedly onto a generic WWII shooter while sobbing quietly onto our keyboards."
     "Last time we commented on DLC there were headlines saying 'Rare thinks DLC is rubbish'. So we're not going to say anything about downloadable content this time. Although we do think it is great."
     And across to the VP peeps – the VPeeps, if you will – for clarification of the spin-offs and ports: "The PC version and Party Animals were developed 'off-site'. The DS game is homegrown. I think you misunderstand the purpose of the PC game. I don't think you're meant to collect all the versions (although you might want to – it's a fantastic game, don't you know), instead I see it as Microsoft allowing new people to try the game (without buying a brand new, shiny console)."
Dear Scribes,
     I'm going to tell you right now that I am one of those pesky Banjo fans that want more more more more. Hopefully this won't be such a pesky question though.
     In this new Banjo, can you tell us what kind of theme Spiral Mountain has? I loved Banjo-Kazooie's theme, It was very cheerful and happy, fast-paced music with mindless inbred vegetables running around!
     I wasn't as fascinated with Banjo-Tooie's theme however. It did make sense, I just didn't feel that happy vibe that I wanted to feel. I feel that Spiral Mountain should be a very happy cheerful place, and I hope that Banjo got off his lazy butt, hired some new musicians, and cleaned up the place a little, for his new game.
     An over-obsessed Banjo Fan,
"Well Scotty," says Banjo soundtrack veteran and soft rock pin-up Grant, "I think you missed the point about the sad Spiral Mountain theme, it was supposed to be sad as it was all wrecked, wasn't it? Dear me, if you're an 'over-obsessed Banjo fan' you should've known that, I could hardly write a jolly tune could I... hehe! In the new Banjo you want some new musicians do you, eh? I'll have to ask the designers if I can be removed from the game then, shall I? Rest assured if the new game requires Spiral Mountain then that's what it will get. Bah... humbug!"
Dear Scribes,
     Hi, just finished PDZ for the, umm... once again but the more I look at the game (which gets better the more often I play it) and watching the concept art it pops up in my mind that quite a bunch of stuff is somehow 'missing'. For instance the weird chairs in the 2nd floor on the Disco. In the concept art they look more like some neuro-junkies would consume 'BTL'-chips (Shadowrun) or 'Stims' as the PD Comic calls them. Or these suddenly out-of-the-blue appearing guys with the western hats, or or or...
     Nonetheless, PDZ is my favorite 360 title (bought the 360 only for it, like I did with the N64 before), and I really, really wish for a third chapter. Maybe even with the same engine (OK maybe better-looking eyebrows) but with even more (cyberpunk/sci-fi) appeal to it. A 100% finished and polished game, not produced under pressure to make it to a console launch. And don't make me buy a 720 for it. ;)
Chairs? You're asking about pictures of chairs? Well, I suppose at the very least we could consider it an ox-bow lake of variation located off to one side of the foul, hairy current of Banjo questions. Let's see what Santa Botwood has to say.
     "The chairs were meant to be DeathMatch gaming chairs, thus tying the single and multiplayer games together nicely. The time constraints on launch titles being what they were, we didn't have the opportunity to polish as much as we'd have liked. This was sadly one of the things we didn't get to put in. We're very glad you enjoy the game, and when another sequel comes along, we'll let you know."
     He's a bit chirpy. Much as I'd like to make some kind of comment about him being on the sherry like a workshy housewife, he did just come over and hand-deliver a card so I'll let him off.
To Mr. Scribes Man:
     Original Perfect Dark = Priceless
     Conker's Bad Fur Day = Sweet
     Kameo = Good
     Perfect Dark Zero = Not so good
     Viva Piñata = ZOMG! T3H AW3S0M3N3SS!!
     I was going to include other games on here, but I kind of lost interest once I started speaking in 1773 speak.
     Mr. Christopher
Thanks. For the feedback, and for recognising the need to stop before somebody got hurt.
     I thought Justin from the Piñata team might appreciate his game receiving the highest of your honours, so I passed it along to see what he had to say:
     "Funnily enough 'ZOMG! T3H AW3S0M3N3SS!!' was the original description on our design documents. Not that I should be talking to you after you put some hurt on Perfect Dark. U r teh suXXorZ."
     I've come asking a question that has kept me curious for quite some time.
     What are the names of the Ostrich competitors in Expresso Racing in DKC2 GBA? After scrolling through the racetracks twice, I've found 20 names, though I highly doubt that those are all of them. Would you or a GBA team member be so kind as to list how many there are as well as the names? Cheers.
     Mark "darkmark8" Mazzei
Let's ask! How exciting!
     "Here you go, your sleepless nights can now end: Expresso, Rapido, Zippy, Bungle, Myma, Rippa, Ozzie, Minogue, Chewy, Beardy, Tinky, Monsoon, Humpty, Aftershock, Misty, Smokey, Sneakers, Loopi, Tremors, Papa Laz, Flicky, M. Bassi."
     No further explanation was offered, and I have a deep primal feeling that none should be sought.
     I am writing to inform the Rareware team of a terrible situation, the likes of which has not been addressed by your company since 1990, 18 years ago. It has come to my attention that a pandemic of epic proportions has begun afflicting the world: Nibbley-Pibbleys, which have run amok for almost two decades, have overpopulated their natural habitat of ground-based garbage can lids and are bringing about a global environmental crisis the world over.
     Lacking the effects of their natural predators, Rattle 'n' Roll, these Nibbley-Pibbleys have grown unchecked to the point that their cohabitants, hopping feet, hockey pucks and sharks, have become a major international health concern as well. While Al Gore wasn't available for comment, your path is clear: recreate Snake Rattle 'n' Roll for next-gen systems and save the world from environmental disaster at the hands of the Nibbley-Pibbleys.
     Regards, Sincerely, and with all due respect,
     Mark Momtahan
Since 1990? Nah, we get this all the time. Snake Rattle 'n' Roll nutters are almost as common as Battletoads loonies and Anticipation mentalists. Let's get the latest refutation from someone who worked on the original:
     "Sadly you are unlikely to see a sequel to the affable, yet tricky to control, serpents. According to the latest research carried out on three-year-olds and retired seniors, today's gamers only want snakes if they are realistic massive ones with venom-dripping fangs that battle humans (who have at least 20 guns to choose from) in gritty levels based on real life cities. Friendly-looking serpents that scoff coloured balls in imaginary checkerboard worlds just don't get a look in these days."
Oh, hello, Mr. Scribes.
     I didn't see you there, but as long as this wonderful and coincidental meeting has occurred, I'll use this opportunity to axe you a question. In Viva Pinata: Party Animals, will there be any bonuses for having played Viva Pinata: Regular Animals? For example, if I have a pet Buzzlegum who I've kept fattened with lots of joy candies to the point where she can now only just barely dance with her worker drones, will she be more lethal in pinata combat?
     Thank you for what will surely be a timely response, and I apologize for not knowing how to make my tilde key work, and also my accent key, as I believe the word 'tilde' has an accent over the 'e'.
     J.V. Carone
That's just lazy. I'm not even sure it deserves a proper response from the VP team... but then again the response is unlikely to have hours of careful thought put into it either, so it all balances out.
     "The bonus is that you will know all the species names, so you can identify members of the crowd as you run past. Plus if you're losing you can make up something that sounds authentic to distract your opponents. For example: 'Oh my goodness, did you just see that Mousemallow throw a Chippopotamus into that crowd of Salamangos' – while the other person is desperate to see such a rare event you can zoom past them."
Thank baby Jesus for the gift of layered Photoshop files
Dear Scribes,
     As a bit of an old timer (not literally, but I was brought up on a diet of ZX Spectrum games), I am rather glad you have taken your steps into XBLA with Jetpac, this is a real cool re-make of a classic game, and unlike other companies, you have gone out of your way to not only give us the original but a top-notch updated version – thanks.
     I would be interested to know if sometime in the near future any of the following might make an appearance on XBLA:
     * Knight Lore     * Alien 8     * Sabre Wulf     * Atic Atac
     I would really like to see Alien 8 on the 360 after what you pulled off with Jetpac. Thanks for the classic and keep them coming.
Cheers fella. Personally I'm not convinced that enough could be done to make the old isometric classics palatable for a modern audience without breaking them, and the fact that we didn't differentiate the GBA version of Sabre Wulf with a cunning subtitle might make things confusing if we went back and polished up the nails-hard original for XBLA. I'm with you on Atic Atac though, and Lunar Jetman would be another prime candidate. However, at the moment I can't truthfully say that any of them are happening, and I'm not sure about their prospects for the future either. But you never know.
Dear Scribes,
     I'm a man who doesn't like to BS around so I'll go straight to the point. I love Banjo-Kazooie and consider it one of my favorite games of all time (and I'm a gamer with immaculate taste). The new look for the duo is enjoyable and humorous (as the games themselves are). You need to post new info/pics/videos/trailers of the next Banjo-Kazooie game... soon.
     Finally, and which is the reason why I'm writing you, I've heard tales that the Banjo team has confessed that past Banjo games were extremely difficult and the team was considering making the next installment 'easier'. I'm here to write, ask, demand and plea that you keep this Banjo game crazy-hard like its brethren. One of the biggest reasons I love BK is because of its overall challenge in terms of puzzles, controls/manuevers, levels, etc.
     So, can you give some word on how the overall gameplay and difficulties are compared to past games? (Just don't dull it down because a handful of people griped that past BK games were too hard. All I hear from that is, "Boo-hoo.")
     Thanks for the great series,
"I wouldn't consider the Banjo games extremely difficult, unless of course you're like Banjo's musician Grant who lacks any semblance of hand-eye co-ordination," insists Gregg. "We tried to pitch the Jiggy tasks in the previous games so that they varied from simple to difficult, so if you came across one you couldn't complete you could miss it out and try another.
     "The new game, Banjo-Needsanamie, adopts a different approach due to its core gameplay mechanic. It will all become clear when we actually reveal what we have been up to these last few years, but for now all I'm going to say is that the player will determine the difficulty level by how they approach the Jiggy tasks. The same task could be really simple and take just a few seconds for some players, but others may find it very hard and take hours."
     That's given the game away – it's Banjo-Sudoku. Further suggestions to drive sales into the millions: attach the Gundam licence somehow and throw in a few brain/eyesight-training minigames where you count up blurry Jinjos and that.
Dear Mr. Lovely Day,
     I have a few questions for you and I hope you put this in the Scribes:
     1) Does the team that made DKCs and DK64 still work with you?
     2) Do you have any intention of developing an all-new DK game?
     3) If so, why are you taking so much time? If not, why not?
     4) If DK64DS does happen, please don't remove anything, well, maybe Beaver Bother...
     5) Tiny still ticks me off, please, PLEASE when developing another game with Tiny in it, use the young one, PLEASE!!!
     6) Do you think that one day Bill Gates or whoever is in charge of stepping on children's dreams and expectations by buying franchises and companies will ever buy the Kong License so that Rare develop Kong games again?
     7) If not, what if I can gather lots of sigs? How many sigs would be enough?
     I'm longing/looking forward/hoping/waiting for/to/for/for more and more games from you, especially Kong ones.
     Fantino (A.K.A. diddyknowsbest)
1) Most of them, yeah. Including the designers and key art/software bods. Of course the team layout isn't exactly the same now as it was in 1994.
     2 & 3) Not unless Nintendo decide it's what they want and loudly declare that we're the ones to do it.
     4) See, I knew the other bloke up there was in the minority when he was putting down all that playa-hating on the multicoloured bananas.
     5) Too late, boy! Nintendo says she's a feisty teenager these days!
     6 & 7) I find that situation tricky to successfully envisage. If you must start a petition, I would advise a bare minimum of a googleplex signatures.
Dear Scribes,
     Over the years, I have been pleased. Viva Piñata was probably one of your greatest, though I think that the new Banjo-Kazooie game should be a pleasure. I have a question to ask your DKR Team.
     I noticed that Tiptup's voice from Diddy Kong Racing DS was rather, much higher than the original N64 version, and my question to ask is that the Tiptup Jr. from Banjo-Tooie? It sounds rather higher than the older version.
     Your lifelong fan,
Seem to be missing an 'n' there, Johny. Why would you intentionally reduce the Scrabble value of your name, even by one point? Is it a stylistic choice or a consequence of self-image issues? Have you thought about talking to someone?
     In the meantime, we should ask Gary from the DS team to explain the voice thing: "The guy who did the voices was wearing really tight jeans, with the outcome that the new voice was a bit higher than the original (or perhaps you're right and it was Tiptup Jnr.)"
     Maybe 'explain' was too strong a word.
Dear Scribes,
     So the great BAFTA award-winning Rare (I regard you as the younger, greatly talented 'Pixar' to the older Nintendo's 'Disney'), who I've followed since the fantastic Atic Atac, may put the next Banjo game on the PC, that relatively characterless format not strongly noted for being loyal sales-wise to the platform game genre. Nevertheless, Viva Piñata should find a place.
     I understand that Microsoft would like to recoup their investment in Rare and, as a PC software company, they will share little of my sentiment: that this is one less reason why it is necessary to get an Xbox 360. Of course, there are people, probably a lot of people, who will buy an Xbox 360 regardless because they love FPS games, that the Xbox 360 has a fair share of its quota in. However FPS are not the be all and end all for me. Platform and adventure games are. I don't want some sprawling Japanese epic piously telling me about my destiny. I want a Rare telling me about my destiny, with its tongue in cheek, possibly in a Birmingham accent for dubious comic effect. I don't want the same experience to be available on PC, like some Ubisoft game. Please don't let the same happen to Perfect Dark Zero and Perfect Dark 2. In fact, don't let it happen to Banjo. Doing this will cheapen how the Xbox360 appears without selling that many copies to the PC market.
     Paul Wilde
I think this deserves not one but two responses, largely as a reward for the 'dubious comic effect' remark.
     VP team perspective: "Since Banjo isn't yet out, there will not have been any decisions made about 'other versions'. You may notice that we didn't make versions of Kameo or PD0 for PC. Viva Piñata was an exception because it was thought that it was the kind of game that PC users would appreciate. So I think I'm trying to say that it's on a case by case basis rather than some cynical marketing ploy."
     And from the Banjo team: "Although there are no plans for a PC version at this time, I don't think that Banjo would be a particularly good fit anyway. Control schemes for these kinds of games are difficult to recreate on a PC, due to it primarily using a keyboard and a mouse. In my opinion, PC games seem to fall into a small number of categories and generally lack innovation whereas console games offer more choice and are willing to try something new. As Banjo falls into the latter category its natural home is on a console."
Greetings, Rare chaps and chapettes,
     A quick but bothersome question. How were the translations of the punny piñata names handled when VP was put into non-English languages? Did they just keep their English names, as modified to fit the linguistic rules they were translated into, or did some team of foreign-language speakers wrack their brains for piñata puns befitting their mother tongue?
     This has been bothering me ever since I saw a video online of a Pretztail wandering around in some fellow's garden that came from the prez of the Japanese Xbox 360 fanclub (incredible that such a thing exists, no?) with a Japanese name. I must know! My love of hideous wordplay demands it!
     Regards, shards, leopards, and petards,
If I had the time and leisure I'd try to suggest some workable non-English versions, but I want to get this thing out in time for Xmas... and there's always the risk of accidentally including mild racial slurs and triggering festive internet meltdown. So I'll just ask the game's designer. Can't go wrong there (well, unless he has the same idea).
     "As far as I know the names were the same the world over. I think some of the localisation groups attempted to translate them but it's a thankless and almost impossible task, so it was abandoned. Alternatively you could say our names were so good no-one wanted to change them? Yes?"
To the Guy I'm Running Out of Names For;
     I've got BK3 plot questions taking backseat to the tech ones for now, so I don't know if that's better or worse for you. Anyways, I read in a recent magazine article that the original BK game was more graphically powerful than other games before it (hence the trees that suddenly appear when you get within three metres of them) and I've noticed this sort of thing with other games you have created (mostly the N64 ones). So, is the 360 finally powerful enough for you to do all you want in the Banjo world, or can we expect some of the usual ingenuity for fixing "Crap our game's so powerful it blew the system again!!!" problems?
     Weird question here, but did anyone get a chance to debug "Bottles Revenge" (BT) and would it possibly show up as an unlockable in BK3? What exactly WERE the problems in the first place? Last question (really having nothing to do with tech... or plot for that matter. But oh, heck with it, I'm curious). Are we looking at an 'E' rating for BK3 or something higher? As you probably realise, most of your fans have grown up a bit since then (though only physically... me, I enjoy embracing my outer child) and the end of BT was thought to be a bit rough around the edges; so how likely is it that it might go as high as E10+?
     Well, keep up the good work--I'll be sitting here until it comes out.
     *~BK GiRL*~
You can move around a bit if you like. We don't want to be responsible for you becoming morbidly obese and ending up wedged into your chair, especially as we haven't even decided when we're going to release it yet. Could be ages. Or, you know, it might not! It might be really soon! (Phew – fanbase backlash averted.)
     Handing over to the team for their thoughts on TEH SYSTAM POWAR: "Contrary to what others may tell you, it doesn't matter how powerful the system is, developers will soon find a way of taxing it to its limits and wanting more. Having said that, the 360 is extremely powerful and without it we would not be able to take the approach to the new Banjo game that we have (that should make the PR guys happy)."
     And as if that wasn't enough, unprecedented axed gameplay mode exposé! "As soon as we decided to drop Bottles' Revenge, no further work was done on it. It had two major problems. Firstly, it proved very difficult to get the gameplay right when a second player could control a boss. Nearly all boss characters work by the player exploiting a learnable set sequence. As soon as this sequence is broken by the second player doing what they like with the boss, it makes it very difficult for the player controlling Banjo to defeat it. I'm sure we could have resolved it but we ran out of time. Secondly, this new addition was thrown in at the last minute which meant that the game would have had to be fully tested twice – once without Bottles' Revenge and once with it. Again, we didn't have time to do this.
     "It's pretty safe to assume that the new Banjo game will also be E-rated, although Banjo fans will be pleased to know the same 'rough around the edges' humour will remain."
     I got a question, I just took a look at the Piñatapedia and noticed all the other colors of a Flutterscotch are in there.
     So I thought a Dragonache also has five other colors, namely a gold, green, blue, brown and red one. And as I took a look at his page I noticed the other colors are not on the Piñatapedia. The gold, green, blue and brown ones are in the game and the red one is from the cartoon.
     So my question is: are these five other colored Dragonache also be added to the Piñatapedia?
     Thanks in advance.
Well, no, because they're variants. The 10 Flutterscotch colours are treated as separate species in the game (they're entirely different models, you can't romance different colours and so on), hence their inclusion in the Pinatapedia. We didn't even attempt to include the standard three variants of each and every Piñata because that would have a) spoiled the surprise, b) derailed the discovery process and c) sent us to the mental home by tripling the amount of work that needed to be done. We probably didn't have renders of them all anyway. Not that I'm looking very hard in case I find them and start thinking you're right after all (note to self: he isn't).
Dear Scribes,
     Yes, well. In response to your response to my letter in the last Scribes, I must protest. To say that Battletoads is not fit for today's gamers is blasphemy. Of all the issues and difficulties I've seen relating to adapting older styles of gameplay to newer, more modern styles, the overall insane difficulty would have to be the simplest to overcome.
     "Oh, Sean, with your intimate knowledge of video game developing, please tell me how to fix it" – you say.
     Well, the answer is both simple and complex. In short, all you have to do is create the game with a difficulty setting, but not just ANY difficulty setting, the most complex difficulty setting ever conceived. Instead of just changing the amount of damage the Toads dish out and take in, you must keep in mind the other aspects that make a Toads game a Toads game: PLATFORMING AND PITFALLS!
     Yes, so, in order to make these things easier, you must first identify the variables that make these elements hard in the first place: speed, frequency, repetition, etc. For instance, if I were to make the 3rd level of Battlemaniacs easier, I would first lower the overall speed at which bikes travel, enough to be able to see and react to the incoming walls. Next, I would lower the number of walls that actually fly at the Toads. Lastly, keeping the consistency and the simplicity of the patterns is extremely important. Whenever I have a go at that level, I'm always fooled by a changing pattern, then SLAM! I'm caught in a cunning trap.
     Of course there are many more difficulty variables to consider, but with the right application and balancing, the insane unplayability should be manageable. Diehard fans should feel right at home, while newcomers have the chance to pass the 3rd level.
     I implore you; please don't throw out one of the greatest video game franchises ever created. I'm sure your crack team of designers and developers can think of something.
     Thanks a bunch,
     Sean Ware
Are we really having an in-depth Battletoads design debate or am I still fast asleep on the settee at home having one of those 'four cans of Strongbow' dreams again?
     Mr. Mayles ripostes: "Make the game easier by slowing it down and taking out half the level? Sounds like the Japanese version we did! More important than the difficulty (which is actually fairly easy to adjust), I think the style of gameplay is simply not what players want these days. Fine for a retro throwback, but if we were to do a new Battletoads game it would have to be something very different. Some of the levels in Battletoads would be little more than mini-games today.
     "A very topical subject though, have you seen this?" (WARNING: contains swearage.)
     Yay, another win for Rare! Oh.
     I am a huge fan of classic Rare, Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong Country, just to name a few.
     I was wondering, since Rare produced Banjo-Kazooie, if you have or know of a place that I could get the Banjo music for Banjo-Kazooie theme and Spiral Mountain, because I play the banjo.
     Could you please help me out?
G. Kirkhope, inspiring real life banjo practitioners worldwide. The man himself says: "In a word, no – we've never done the sheet music for any of the game soundtracks, but I expect you could easily find a site that had the MIDI files and then you'd be able to load them up in a sequencer and look at what I've done!"
Dear Scribe(s),
     I have only two words for you: Blast Corps. Is there potential for a sequel here? As a teenager it was one of my favorite games and I'd kill for a 360/DS sequel or remake. Come on, pretty please? Blowing things up is fun. Driving things is fun. Giant demolition robots are fun. What are you waiting for? If nothing else, can you give me a hard "no, never happening" answer so that my dreams of blowing things up can be squashed?
     Either way, thanks for your time.
The thing is, we've made a lot of games. We're lucky enough to have made a lot of games that people like. We like them too, so of course we think they've got lasting appeal. But we can't revive them all if we ever want to do anything new, and that alone ensures there's no way we'll keep everyone happy. On the other hand, if we flat-out said "no, never happening" about something like Blast Corps then we'd look stupid if we ever did go back and revive it. So we can't even do that much for you. Merry Xmas, chums!
Eyes like headlights and bowels like an internal combustion engine
Dear The Kingdom of Rare,
     I have a few questions for the best Game Developers EVER.
     1. Since Grunty is degraded to a head, will she be given a cyborg body? And who will be her assistant now that Klungo is good? Will it be Splungo?
     2. For the Nintendo 64 Banjo-Kazooie, people who pre-ordered it got either a Banjo-Kazooie or Mumbo Jumbo plush. Will you be making new plushies for me to get? (Please say yes!)
     3. How's the development ofThreeie doing? And is working with Microsoft doing good? I just wanna know how my favorite game company is doing because I'm friendly!
I think a kingdom technically has to be bigger than five buildings, a car park and a pond. But we could always fire off an application to the borough council and see if they have any clearer guidelines. For now, here's Banjo's head honcho with some game-related answers.
     "1) Grunty gets a cyborg body? Ah, that's better than what we've come up with. Klungo or any made-up Splungo/Bungo/Flungo variant will not be Grunty's assistant. Believe it or not, we've actually come up with a new character rather than trying to recycle old ones (although Grant has promised to recycle his old tunes).
     "2) Did you? We poorly treated developers never saw those!
     "3) Everything is going nicely. Even if it wasn't we'd lie in order to make it sound good and keep the MS heavies off our backs."
Hello Sir,
     This is my first time on any kind of gamer site. I just had to write to congratulate you on Viva Piñata. What a great game – my 5-year-old son and I have had many hours of fun playing it.
     I do though, have a question. Can you send crates from Xbox 360 Live to players playing on the PC version? I only ask as I would love to be able to send my son crates from my Xbox 360 to his PC game – I know he would get a big thrill out of it too. Is there some sort of portal that can be used from the PC to accomplish this?
"First of all," says the designer, "thanks for the compliment. Now for the bad news, no I'm afraid you can't trade between versions. Would have been a great feature, wish we'd thought of it." But I checked with a programmer too and apparently the security of cross-platform trading would have been another major hurdle, so it probably wouldn't have happened anyway. Glad you're having fun though. Sorry to everyone else if that brief moment of sincerity ruined your overall enjoyment of the Scribes experience.
Dear Scribes,
     1. Was Mr. Patch by any chance inspired by Chewie the Chewitsaurus of Chewits fame? They look just alike, except that, you know, one's body is covered with mismatched patches and the other's is devoid of such things. Regardless, I've included a picture attachment with a comparison, so you have no excuse for denying what is possibly the greatest discovery since the cheese in Perfect Dark.
     2. How do you guys feel about Diddy Kong's treatment in Super Smash Bros. Brawl? He may be a Nintendo property, but Rare created him and made him the chimp he is today. With the game featuring Diddy's cartwheel attack of yore, as well as his Peanut Popguns and Rocketbarrel Boost, the developers responsible for Diddy's character are probably glad to see that their work with Nintendo has not been forgotten.
     3. In Viva Piñata, is the goldfish inside Paper Pets intended to be Banjo's old friend Roysten? If so, it seems he's gotten himself in another troublesome situation, except now his new strategy seems to be focused around leaping out of the bowl. Definitely not a bad innovation, given how fruitless his 'bang on the side' tactic was.
     Well, that's it. May the sarcastic and/or inconclusive rebuttals commence!
Come on fellas, we're nearly there! Just one more set of questions! (Apart from the other ones... mumble mumble.)
     "1) No he wasn't. All daft inflatable dinosaurs have to look like this by law.
     "2) So long as Diddy is the best and beats up all the other characters then we are very pleased. If he is routinely humiliated by having his cap pulled down over his eyes and his nipples tweaked then this is simply unacceptable. Actually we are pleased that the characters we created continue to feature in games. It's better than them joining the Hall of Shame like Cooper and so many others.
     "3) Well spotted, it is Roysten. Who knows where this exciting goldfish will turn up next!
     "I've been writing Banjo/DK answers all day and my sarcasm rebuttal reserves are running low, so I'm sorry if any questions below this one have really poor responses."
     No need to worry, the end is in sight. There may yet be a happy Xmas for us after all. Come on chaps, over the top...
hey there.
     Id like to ask a question about one of the things you said where rare is going to use the same spiral mountain from Banjo Kazooie and place it into the new game. Like a copy paste thing but Im not sure if you were being sarcastic about it because you usually have sarcastic remarks. So could you just confirm if the copy past (as some people say) is true because I dont really think rare would do that. Now I say that because in the BK3 trailer when banjo gets out side of the house it shows the spiral mountain as being an actual spiral. So whats up with that. I like the spiral concept and I hope rare makes the mountain the way it was in the trailer. Oh and about banjos house. I heard a rumor that banjos house was going to be rebuilt into a 2 story home. I highly dout it though.
Yay for Token Unedited Letter of the Month. Did I say "yay"? I meant "curses and damnation".
     Gregg says:"In addition to the answers somewhere above (or below if Leigh craftily reorders everything), I can dramatically confirm with appropriate fanfare that Spiral Mountain will return, it will be an all-new shiny model with a gazillion polygons and we will be using it differently than in the previous games. So if that doesn't satisfy your spirally cravings, I don't know what will."
     Maybe that bonkers Japanese film where everyone gets turned into a spiral and dies. That would probably do it.
  Why do you wait so long until you publish a new Scribes? It can't possibly take a couple months to get enough emails, can it? I mean, I'm sure by the time I send this you'll already have hundreds in queue!
Maybe if we printed every single email that came in, which would be a desperate and irreparable error.
  MAKE A RELEASE DATE FOR THE GAMES SAKE. youre killing my xbox 360's purpose. post this on the scribes. may you? kill the wait date, release it now!
I imagine this email being dictated in the style of an argument between Gollum and Sméagol.
  Stop... with... the... penis... jokes... just... stop
I didn't realise I was doing it. Unless you mean pointing out people's surnames that practically are the word 'penis'.
  will there be a Perfect Dark Zero 2 sequel? for xbox 360.
Josh G
Hang on, are you and that JDog bloke doing this on purpose?
  Just thought you might like how this looks...
Robert Vostry
Agh! My retinas – disintegrated by lens flare!
  I once heard the rumor that they used King K. Rool's design for King Koopa on the Mario Bros Cartoons. Is that true?
Juan F.
"Probably not, as one overweight lizard tends to look like another," observes DKC's designer. He has a point.
  I have been hearing rumors that there will be cussing in the new Banjo-Kazooie game is this true?
Jesse Keeble
Yes, damn it to flaming buggery, it's full of the stuff. Alternatively, what does common sense tell you?
  It might be a good idea to place the mailto: link for letter submissions on your website using something other than Flash.... a lot of us run around with Flashblock enabled, for good reason.
You're assuming I want people to write in. Alright, alright, I'll cobble together a cheap text link.
  Any information on Banjo-Fourie?
The guy that traded in his Wii for a 360 just for Banjo-Threeie
Life, why must you do this to me?
  Just reading last Scribes – no Christopher Lambert in the Killer Instinct film adaptation??!?!? Are you reserving him for Anticipation: The Movie? Oh, and Merry Christmas, by the way.
Homer from Spain
Back at you, Homer from Spain, and anyone else who's made it this far. Have a Lambertiginous Xmas!
Scribes - December 20, 2007