Scribes – February 13, 2008
It's the stupid Rare letters page! Send us your mail! We might even catch a fish that goes "GRONK"!
Hullo there, Scribes!
     I just have a couple of questions for you regarding Viva Piñata.
     1. Do you plan on having the villagers (Seedos, Leafos, Costolot, Bart, etc.) on the DS version of the game? If yes, will any of them be cut from the game?
     2. This question might sound a little odd, but who played the voice of Seedos in the 360 version? I think they did a great job, and I would like to see if they have done any more voice work.
A couple of questions? I like the sound of that. Promise this isn't some kind of trick and you've actually got a dozen rambling but at the same time incoherently urgent demands like most people?
     1) Gary from the DS team: "Seedos, Lottie, Bart and the many the familiar faces from the 360 version are all present in the DS version. One exception is Leafos, she has decided to take a break and will not be found in the DS version."
     2) Leafos and Jardiniero were just about the only Rare in-house voice acting contributions (freaky animal noises aside) left in the original VP, with everything else handled by the 4Kids voice acting pool. And specific Seedos-related prodding by the team turns up the name of Mr. Anthony Salerno, aka Jaden Yuki. Who'd have thought?
Dear Scribes,
     I am a longtime fan of all of Rare's titles, especially Banjo-Kazooie. When I heard that a new Banjo title was being released for the Xbox 360, I squealed with joy, because it's just super duper and I love Banjo and I am super excited for it and-- Well, you get the point.
     Anyway, one of the things that I loved about the Nintendo 64 was the abundance of platformers. Sadly, with the last two generations platformers have kind of disappeared. With Banjo-Kazooie 3 coming out, though, I am hoping that there will be another platformer released by Rare, only with graphics and controls and things like that that make me mash my hands on the keyboard like this: fljskajkjf;riuiusaduhfiausdbfisdjnkcvnjdshdjjdk,ruwyh43!! So, will you be staying true to the platforming nature of the series or will Banjo be turning into an over-the-shoulder view shooter with lots of blood and gore?
     Another thing I loved about Rare games way back when was the multiplayer! Perfect Dark, Banjo-Tooie, and Donkey Kong 64 were all excellent titles with multiplayer modes that added so much more to the game when you finished it. Will there be local and/or live multiplayer modes that we can play with friends online and offline in Banjo-Threeie? Or are these just a little boy's hopes and dreams that will never make it to the big screen?
     Well, whatever you do with the series, it's still Banjo, and you're still Rare, so I'm sure I'll love it.
     Connor Willoughby
Banjo Communications Onslaught (2008 Edition) commencing... now.
     "Banjo won't be a shooter (unless we sell no copies like Ghoulies and out of desperation give him a gun for the next game) but it also won't be a traditional platformer," teases the head of the team. "We somewhat grandly like to think that it will be a different take on the genre. Some would say a brave gamble but I'm confident it's the right decision, and when people see it I'm sure they will say 'although the old games are clearly brilliant, this new one is even better. So good in fact that I am going to sell all my worldly possessions and give the money to the Banjo team'.
     "We aren't in the business of crushing little boys' dreams so your multiplayer hopes will be answered. The 'new direction' that Banjo is taking should offer a multiplayer experience unique to anything currently available.
     "Each year, stalwart members of the Banjo team don their rose-tinted glasses and play one game of Banjo-Tooie's multiplayer. We eat our Christmas lunch and then play all the games back to back. We still know all the answers to the quiz even after seven years, and I'm pleased to say that I successfully defended my title this year and the others will have to wait all year before they get another shot at the champion."
Hey, Scribes... few questions for you.
     1: I am a big fan of your games' music. I can only seem to find the Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero OSTs. I wanted to know if you guys ever made a Banjo-Kazooie or Banjo-Tooie soundtrack. If so, can you point me in the direction where one can buy it?
     2: In addition to above question, will you be making a <Insert the B word here>-Threeie soundtrack? ...I know you guys probably won't start leaking any information out about the game until the summer, but it'd be nice to know when it's coming out.
     3: You probably don't have much to do with animated series from your games, but I want to ask: Will there be any more shows airing from your games? I love watching Viva Piñata every Saturday morning.
     Silvenium The Drifter
1) Grant! "Nintendo did make CDs of both of those soundtracks but they're pretty hard to come by, the best I can recommend is eBay I'm afraid!"
     2) Grant again! "I really can't answer that one either, Microsoft didn't want to do a Viva Piñata soundtrack but may want to do a Banjo one... who knows!"
     3) Grant! Oh, he's gone. Well, this kind of thing is decided on a case-by-case basis. I'm not aware of any more spin-off series in the works right now, not since The Crazy Adventures of Thunderfist and J-Bomb stalled early in production. Although we are considering the possibility of episodic online comics, so watch this space (NB: at no time do we guarantee anything of interest appearing in this space).
The RedEye King strenuously denies wearing legwarmers and New Romantic facepaint
Dear Scribes,
     I have owned two copies of the English version of Star Fox Adventures. I sold my Gamecube and bought another one some time later, and got another copy of Star Fox Adventures. Now, I may be going mad, but I was sure the first copy I had had the "Dinosaur language" option in ROB's menu (after putting the tokens in the well). The copy I currently own does not. There are five messages and three cheats, and the message that I think is extra is "You are meant to be together. It was your destiny. Together as one, you will bring peace".
     I could be wrong, as it is so long ago, but I was sure that my first copy had four messages and four cheats, and Dinosaur appeared in the list of languages. Please could you tell me if there was a version released in England that had the Dino language option? If not, is this because there was no more room on the disc after all the other foreign languages had to be squeezed on there?
     Secondly, I was just wondering why you couldn't fight General Scales. How come we couldn't fight Scales before fighting Andross? I thought it was a bit of a disappointment, really, but Rare must have had their reasons for doing it this way. Again, no-one on the net seems to know the answer.
     Thanks for taking the time to read my email, and don't feel that you have to answer me if you don't have time! And thanks, of course, for making such great games!
Lead designer Lee says: "Different versions? I thought we just did one and that was used worldwide." And I can't find anyone who disagrees with that. Although you should bear in mind that our memories are all shot to buggery from years of HARD GRAFT and PSYCHOLOGICAL BEDEVILMENT. As for the Scales fight: "We ran out of dev time due to the looming Microsoft buyout so we had to wrap up the game and just focus on one final boss."
     So, just another tragedy chalked up to insidious development deadlines, along with Bottles' Revenge and the PDZ motorbike. Surely no other world in the far-flung mutliverse could be as harsh and pitiless as our own.
     On the other hand, the Andross boss fight turned out pretty bloody well, I thought.
Hey Rareware!
     This has to be my first fan letter (now is about the time where you come up with a sarcastic comment).
     This one concerns Banjo-Kazooie 3. I loved Banjo-Kazooie and Tooie, but you don't need me to tell you that, since just about everyone else does, so I will save you the punishment this time and get right to the point. One of my favorite parts of Banjo-Tooie was having the 'worlds within worlds'. I'm talking about areas like Plateau, Pine Grove, Cliff Top, Wasteland and Quagmire. Basically the areas where you actually entered the worlds, I don't know why, but those were my favorite places to be in, and I must have spent hours wondering what the Flume of Doom was in Pine Grove. I would ask if this will be in BK3, but I know BK3 has barely just begun production, so I guess the question is, should we expect it? Cheers!
What's with the full stop between your names? Is 'Paul' an abbreviation? Of what? I didn't think so. You get a slap on the wrist before we've even started.
     Right: over to the Banjo team to follow up with some low-level abuse (and self-abuse... but not that kind).
     "Sarcastic comment – how about 'If this is the best you can do then maybe it should also be your last'?
     "We will have 'worlds within worlds'. Will this be enough to make you buy our game? If not, what else can we shamelessly include in a desperate attempt to bolster desire for a long-forgotten ursine hero? Maybe we could have 'worlds within worlds within worlds'? Yes, that should do the trick!"
Hello, Mr. Scribes dude person,
     If that's what you like to be called. First, I'd like to say I enjoyed your most recent games Diddy Kong Racing DS and Jetpac Refuelled and I can't wait for Banjo-Kazooie 3. My questions are as follows:
     1.) Why haven't you answered my questions in Scribes yet? Is there a grudge against me or something?
     2.) How does Rare feel that 10 years later, they still have supporting Banjo-Kazooie fans? For a game to have a fan-base like this for so long is really... rare... (no pun intended!), especially since we haven't seen a console version of Banjo-Kazooie since Banjo-Tooie in 2000. More fan-sites are being made, music remixes, videos, etc. And most importantly, the Banjo fan-base continues to grow. How do you guys feel about this?
     JO the ThumbsUpMaster
What's with the full stop/bracket combination? Why do you need two bits of punctuation to separate the numbers from the numbered clauses? What do they teach you kids in school these days, happy slapping and blogging? I need a lie down.
     1) Well, we can't answer everything. We get a lot of email. And I can barely remember things from one day to the next, so in order for me to develop a personal grudge against you, you'd have to send dozens of really annoying mails over the course of a single day. Then I'd block your email address. Or as the Banjo team more helpfully put it: "Your questions are obviously repeats of someone else’s, repeats of what you have already sent in, about Stop 'n' Swap, or maybe they are just a little bit rubbish? We tend to answer the subjectively unique and mentally stimulating questions, so send us some of those and we will."
     2) Let's ask 'em: "We are honoured that Banjo fans have hung around and stuck with us this last decade. We really hope that the new Banjo game will be sufficient reward for their dedication and they can be assured that there will be plenty of in-jokes and references to the previous games for them to discover."
Dear Scribes,
     When I re-played Jetpac Refuelled just to krush my pal's hi-score, I couldn't help but think of a few Q's to sling your way in return for some A's. Time to give my love to the Jetpac Team, and by golly they deserve it for giving me so much bang for my buck. Here's a tip for all future game developers: Shooting aliens doesn't get old. Bungie, Epic and Bioware figured it out, and look where they are.
     Robot %^&*er dropped on my head!) What are the official names for the baddies in the game? (So I can stop using improvised names such as the ones that serve as today's question markers?)
     Damn totem thing won't die!) How many variations, color/size/toughness/other, are there for the many baddies in Refuelled?
     Didn't see that stupid fireball!) Is there a Jetpac GAWD on the team who has survived from level 1 to 120 in a single play through?
     AHH! Not the spinning ball of death!) What is the best story the Jetpac team has regarding level names? I'd pick one, but I'd probably pick something obvious.
     I can't believe I crashed into that %#*&ing space jellyfish!) I've thrashed the Blue Bugger's romp through the known galaxy, with a full bag of Achievements too. Is there a chance that you can pull Jetman's arse out of retirement one more time so we can loot the entire universe via (get ready for it) downloadable content? Pretty please with flashing, pixelated comet dust on top? Maybe a FOUR player mode? Nah, I’m asking for too much here, aren't I? Best five bucks I've spent all year too...
     Thanks for Jetpac Refuelled, guys! I've completely thrashed the game, and I want MORE. Go ahead and remake Lunar Jetman and I'll slide you another green Lincoln. JR was the best thing Rare did in '07 and I'll be oh-so-happy when you reveal the next Arcade title.
     Wait, when Jetman grabs the Gold Space Idol, why doesn't a Huge Space Boulder try to crush him?
I'm sensing a hefty response here.
     JR programmer Nick says: "There are no actual official published names for baddies but we do have pet names for them. Face Crab, Brain Eye, Space Squid, Sun Eye, Mouselek, Totem, Moon Spider and Techball. A bit lame I know, things like 'Harbinger of Painful Electric Death' would probably sound better, but we were more concerned with making them look and play well. There are eight main baddie types with numerous colour and speed variations, at least three for each. To be honest though the challenge comes from mixing the different types at different spawn speeds on each level.
     "Yes, there is a Jetpac GAWD on the team and it's me – no really, it is – and you can see my Gamertag in the 200/200 club as I was the first to complete it and have the viral Achievement. You just have to work out which is my Gamertag – no, I'm not telling. By the end of development everyone on the team was pretty damn good at it to be fair, but only an Achievements whore like me managed to play though the whole thing AGAIN.
     "DLC, you say – well that would be tricky as we didn't make provision for it in the original, though at only 24MB we could conceivably just do another version – but no, sorry, really no. We did have four players at one point but for reasons I'm not going into here we had to remove it, I've still got a copy somewhere but I'm not giving it to anyone... Muhahahahaha.
     "We came up with most of the level names during one evening by reading a book on cosmology and coupling the names of all sorts of space-type stuff and names of friends and family with our very weird English sense of humour. To be honest though, if you mix up the words Rim, Star, Brown etc. you can't fail to make something sound funny, if a little puerile. My personal favourite is level 34 'The Giant Enemy Crab Nebula', I'm sure you remember what was big in video gaming news about a year ago now?
     "Oh, and by the way, that's not a golden space idol so no boulder is required. It's clearly a golden Alien 8 robot from our Ultimate Play the Game days."
Dear Rare,
     I'd go on about how I love your games, but I already did so in a previous letter. I only have a few questions.
     OK, first off there is something that I need to know ever since the announcement of Viva Piñata: Party Animals. If you moved to a different company, or decided to become a 3rd party company that made games for all platforms (hint, hint), do you own the rights to Viva Piñata or Microsoft?
     Any chance of seeing either a Banjo-Kazooie or Conker for DS?
     If Nintendo asked you to make a new Donkey Kong game for DS would you?
     See, I told you it was only a few questions. OK, thanks for taking the time to at least read this!
     Zachary Clarke
As if the post-Nintendo character rights questions weren't complicated enough. Let's see what VP designer Justin thinks.
     "The first question is quite strange. It's like getting married and the first thing you do is work out what would happen if you got divorced. If we left Microsoft I expect there would be months of legal wrangling to decide who got what, but I'd want all our Duran Duran LPs back and they could definitely keep those Nik Kershaw singles... and the dog."
     Conker or Banjo on DS? Dunno, maybe. Straightforward question, straightforward answer. DK on DS? Paon seem to be handling most of that malarkey these days.
Dear Rare and the magnificent peeps behind it,
     I admit, this is the first time I've sent something to this site, so I guess you could call me a n00b.
     Although, when it comes to your games, I've been playing and loving them since I was six years old. So, as you can probably imagine, when I heard you guys were coming out with a third Banjo-Kazooie for the Xbox 360, I was overwhelmed with tears of happiness and glee. ...OK, not really tears, but close to it. Just thinking about this game has a certain power over the corners of my mouth. Anyway, here's the question I've been asking myself for a long while now:
     Will you guys ever take DKR to the Xbox 360? If you're going to have Viva Piñata on the 360 and DS, why not take DKR from the DS to the 360? If you do, I will swim over the Atlantic to your li'l emerald island, declare your supremacy by throwing various boxes of chocolates at your houses, stick Post-It notes that read "Rare or die!" on unsuspecting pigeons, and paint all the shorts I own that same shade of yellow that Banjo made famous... all the while singing "Rule, Britannia!".
     Also, though I'm sure you’re not inclined to reveal this info (even if true), will Clanker make an appearance in this upcoming Banjo-Kazooie 3? As adorable as he was, no character can frighten me like he did when I first enter a level. Curse that mechanical, tooth-faced bugger and his giant jaw of doom! But alas, we all love him. Anyway, my sympathies for putting up with this drabble.
     Thanks for everything!
Hmm... not entirely convinced that DKR is as good a fit on the 360 as it is on the DS. It's all about the demographics, baby. VP's situation isn't really comparable, it just stood out as a perfect DS fit once the original was done and dusted. Never say never, obviously, but DKR 360 at this moment in time looks about as likely as New Kids on the Block reforming. Wait – make that less likely.
     According to the Banjo squad, "Clanker fans worldwide will be pleased to know that Clanker is making his comeback in the new Banjo game (in fact, I think that's what we'll call it – New Banjo Game). Also making a welcome return is the snowman from Freezeezy Peak, the Mad Monster Mansion and of course videogames' premier toilet – Loggo." Hang on, what's this? More information than was strictly requested? When did we start doing that? Who drafted this crazy policy?
Dear Oogly-Eyed Green Thing looking back at me,
     Man it's been a long time since I've sent you guys a letter! Last time was 2002 and it was about KI 3... wow how things have changed. Who is that oogly-eyed green thing reading mails these days? What happened to Uncle Tusk?! How he and his Amazonian wife doing?
     Since you guys have shoved KI 3 into a black hole, do you guys have any plans to release the arcade versions of KI on Xbox 360 or any other platform?
     Thanks for your time!
The green thing is a paintbrush from Conker. I think it was the only vaguely relevant thing Jon could find when he was hammering the site together. It doesn't actually read the mails. It's not real. Mind, I might not be real either.
     No plans to crowbar KI onto a format near you in the immediate future... so things haven't changed that much, eh? Uncle Tusk did a runner when we revamped the site a few years ago and hasn't been seen since. According to which rumours you believe he might be sipping tequila on a sunbed in in Cancun, fighting dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous period or roaming around Swansea bus station talking to pigeons and inventing new swearwords to shout at people coming out of WH Smith.
Dear Scribes,
     OK, seeing as Banjo-Kazooie is the subject on the tips of everybody's tongues today, I've decided to follow suit and write you guys yet another letter about the franchise. Yay.
     What I really came to ask, is if you could please put a Ninja level into the new Banjo game. After looking back at your previous titles, I've decided that this would be a perfect fit. First of all, it's something you haven't done before. Secondly, it's Ninjas. Thirdly, you haven't done Ninjas before. Although I actually prefer Pirates over Ninjas, I believe your bias towards Pirates appearing in videogames is a glaring fault on your behalf. Ninja fans across the world are spitting on Banjo right now, because as it has shown in the past, it does not care for their kind.
     In Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, we had two pirate characters: Captain Blubber and Captain Blackeye. We also had Jolly Roger as a character, and Davy Jones' Locker appeared at the bottom of the sea – two notable pirate references. There were pirate enemies in Jolly Roger's Lagoon and there was buried treasure and giant treasure chest enemies in Treasure Trove Cove. Both levels contained shipwrecks. Yet not a single reference to Ninjas as far as I can see.
     Furthermore, when I picked up Banjo Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge, I was in shock. There were only five levels (not including Spiral Mountain), yet one of them was a beach level just like in Banjo-Kazooie. To top it all off – Pirates. Yet another sunken ship, a ghost ship with a shrieking skeleton as its Captain, and Pirate seals. Playing through the rest of the game, and I found no Samurai; no shuriken or any other sort of Ninja reference. Shame.
     I could keep going on about your clear preference of Pirates over Ninjas within the DKC series and DK64 amoung other games, but I think I've already made my point. Banjo-Kazooie 3 needs a Ninja Level, or at least some Ninja references to balance things out. I doubt Ninja fans will take it too kindly if you subject them to this again.
     Oh, and don't even think about a cowboy level. The western section of Witchy World was enough – even Ninjas and Pirates can agree on this one – cowboys suck. They don't deserve to be in games.
     Faithful fan,
At least it's a slightly different take on the "OMG TEL US ABOUT TEH NEW BANJO" demand. And an issue this pressing needs to be taken straight to the top of the Banjo team hierarchy.
     "Although your support of ninjas is to be applauded, I think you'll find that ninja fans are well catered for in many games, including the Ninja Imps in our very own neglected masterpiece Ghoulies. Pirates may have been enjoying a well-deserved resurgence of late in the mainstream media (thanks to Pirates of the Caribbean) but for years they were the downtrodden, forgotten heroes in video games. So all we were trying to do was champion the cause of under-represented pirates everywhere.
     "Also, people can relate to pirates. While trying to be a ninja in real life requires years of training, dangerous swordplay and constant hiding in shadows, anyone can become a pirate by simply purchasing a cheap eye patch and then saying 'a-harrrrr', 'matey' and 'me hearties' repeatedly."
Dear Video Game People (RARErs),
     You owe me a dollar. I've spread the word of Viva Piñata all throughout my Friends list on my 360. I've converted two people so far to crazed Piñata-attracting gardeners. Wouldn't mother be proud? My newly found Viva Piñata brothers are oh so happy... but they keep bugging me about something. They want to know where all of the DLC is. I don't know what to say. They bring up Perfect Dark and Kameo as examples that Rare expands their games with DLC. But what about Viva Piñata? Hmmm? Will we ever get new features like say visiting friends' gardens online? Hmmm? Anything... at all?
     Banjo's coming out soon...? But I'm worried about how well it will do on the 360. I mean I love the Banjo franchise. As a matter of fact, I own a 360 today because about a year ago I heard a rumor that Banjo-Threeie would be making its way to the console. So I saved up and got one. Wahoo. Anyways, the franchise has only existed on systems that are now dead. Bummer. Well I think it would be harder for you to try to sell this game to people of this generation who have never experienced Banjo's past adventures. To further reiterate my point: My little cousins are ten years old. They love Viva Piñata on 360. You know why? Because they were introduced to the cartoon earlier on so they're familiar with the characters and settings. When Banjo-Threeie comes out on the 360, the younger crowd won't be familiar with the characters or settings. The game might not reach players like it should. So I propose that to introduce the youngsters to Banjo-Kazooie, take the first two games from the N64 and put them on Xbox Live Arcade. It'll also keep the Banjo fans such as myself at bay while you work on the new Banjo.
     So there. I asked again, like I warned you I would. I hope you answer these burning questions and save me some money on sleeping pills.
     Cameron Parker (Mr. Patch)
You could have saved yourself the price of a few months' worth of sleeping pills by reading the VP Tepid Seat, but to reiterate: "The team who worked on Viva Piñata and would have worked on DLC started work on a new project. We chose to do this because it meant that people could see a new game faster rather than keep working on an old title. We hope that you will enjoy our new project more than VP DLC."
     Similarly, readying the first two Banjo games for Live Arcade would have meant dragging people away from development on the new game and made the wait even longer. And at the end of the day it's just going to have to stand on its own two hairy feet. Besides, according to the team: "EVERYONE will love the new Banjo game because it is great. Well, hopefully. You should be happy anyway as you're in it."
No reason is too tenuous to bring out the Banjo Tank
Dear Scribes,
     It was noticed by a certain Rare fansite quite a while ago that there is a cow drawn in the sand of one of the beaches in BK: Grunty's Revenge, and an identical one in the Game Boy Color Perfect Dark game. I'm just curious to know whether there are other strange jokes (or maybe they're like programmers' signatures?) hidden throughout Rare games, past and present. Obviously you can't tell me what they are, that'd ruin the secrets. But just how many little nuances do you guys stick in there?
     A Nerd
GBA and DS team veteran Gary offers: "The 'Cow' started life as a temporary graphic (hand-drawn by the designer) in Conker's Pocket Tales, we thought it looked quite funny so we decided to hide it in the game somewhere and wait to see if anyone would ever find it. When the team moved onto the next project we added the cow again. As far as I remember the cow was in the following games: Conker's Pocket Tales, Mickey's Racing Adventure, Mickey's Speedway USA, Perfect Dark and Grunty's Revenge." That's a whole lot of orange in one sentence.
Dear Scribes,
     Before I begin, you should know that I intend to use my great wit and cleverness to circumvent your usual highly political responses and extract cold, hard facts. Or not.
     1. You've skillfully deflected all questions regarding BK and BT showing up on the Virtual Console by saying it's "out of your hands." But what about either/both showing up on XBLA? Surely Microsoft is but a phone call away, and unlike Nintendo (who, I believe, guard their mysterious black-windowed HQ with Ninjas), you can freely ask them for the ability to do it. This is, of course, unless there is some group of cursed lawyers who wish to keep the game from us humble gamers, in which case I spit upon the name of intellectual property rights.
     2. Precisely how many projects are currently being worked on at Rare, as of right now? I ask only because I wish to count one as being BK3, and speculate wildly on the other(s).
     3. I understand that BK3 is intended to broaden the 360's library of quality "family-friendly" games, but Rare games have a tendency to harbor dark, unholy secrets that are clear only to those who seek them. The previous BK games, for example, may (or may not) have contained certain bits of adult humor, skillfully hidden away in places where children would never find them. (Which is to say, blatantly out in the open.) I will not phrase this as a question, but merely as a statement: your fans expect these secrets. You shouldn't disappoint.
     To end this letter, I wish to move on to the subject of future franchises. Allow me to tempt your minds with a simple proposal: Banjo Hero. The rhythm game market needs this. Think about it!
You can probably guess what a couple of the responses are going to be – especially the first one – but I'll pass your questions along to the team anyway. Prepare the Cleverness Circumvention Stoppage Device!
     "1) It's out of our hands.
     "2) No projects are being worked on as we have all been too busy stuffing ourselves with festive fare and adult-themed beverages.
     "3) We won't.
     "Genius! Electric guitars and drums have had their day, what people really want to play are undersized banjos in childish garish colours. It could be the start of Rare hopping on board the music rhythm game bandwagon, with future releases to include Accordion Superstar and Penny Whistle Legend."
Dear Scribes,
     With all this hullabaloo over classic Rare games on the Xbox LIVE Arcade, it got me thinking... what do I really want?
     How about Jet Force Gemini! Online co-op could be incredible, even with only local co-op it would be a blast!
     Perhaps even more importantly, what about a new Jet Force Gemini for the 360?
     James Radcliffe
That would be nice. But if you're expecting anything more dramatic than a "not right now, maybe in the future", you're going to be disappointed. Unless I make a real effort for once. Okay, here we go: Choose An Exciting Jet Force Adventure!
     1) You are Juno and you are seized by an urge to blow up some stuff. Do you beam down to the planet Lovely (go to 2) or the planet Murderama (go to 3)?
     2) The teleport malfunctions horribly and by the time you arrive on the lush, flowery surface of the planet Lovely, your eyes have swapped places with your kidneys and your gun is sticking out of your armpit. Bother! Never mind! Try again!
     3) Yay! You blow up millions of stuff then head back to the ship to put the kettle on. Go to 1.
Dear Scribbly Scrabbily Scribes,
     You must be sick and tired of answering these questions with witty Rare-esque responses (which I love, by the way). Sadly, I must plague you with more Banjo-related inquiries. Especially since the Banjo series is one of my all-time favorite franchises.
     Now, down to business: What kind, if any, Banjo game do you suppose the Nintendo DS may get? A port of an old game would be great, but it'd be even better if we received Banjo-Threeie on the DS. It's only fitting considering you guys sorta promised (okay, HINTED) a Banjo-Threeie would be released on a Nintendo platform for us Nintendo loyalists. Of course Ninty made a stupid move by shipping you off to Microsoft in a cardboard box back in the early years of the millennium, but meh, that's old news. Would you consider doing such a thing, at least for the DS? I'd much rather play a new shiny Banjo game on the Wii, though with all the legal crap that's not going to happen any time soon. That's why I'll settle for a DS version. And if you do, please don't make the game utilize a bird's-eye view in the way Grunty's Revenge did on the GBA. That kinda burned my retinas for awhile there. But as long as there's a Banjo game on a Nintendo platform in the near future, then I'm happy. :)
     Please print this in your next edition of Scribes... since this is the about the ninth or so time writing to you and not getting a single response. Do it, pretty please... or I'll unleash the hounds.
     PS: How do you feel about the direction Nintendo and other developers have taken within regards to the Star Fox series? Adventures was awesome and IMO, the best to date. The others after that one are okay, but not as good. =P
The head of the Banjo team responds humbly: "Thank you, although I have to say it's a pleasure to frustrate our dedicated fans by giving out vague answers. It sure beats doing any real work."
     At what point did we promise (sorry, HINT) that Banjo-Threeie would be "released on a Nintendo platform for Nintendo loyalists"? You crazy system zealots, searching between the lines for meanings that aren't there. Even if we had explicitly said that the third Banjo game would appear on N64/GameCube, it would have been a valid statement of intent at that point in time because we were still Nintendo-exclusive and the wheels of the Microsoft deal weren't even close to being set in motion. All we want to do is make games, man. Can't you just be happy that a new Banjo game is coming out at all? Think of all those poor JFG and Battletoads and Killer Instinct fans who are still waiting (don't encourage them though).
     As for official comment on a possible DS version, back to the team: "We have released very little information regarding the 360 game, so you can probably guess what we are going to say regarding any other versions – absolutely nothing. Sorry!"
     PS Gregg adds: "I think Nintendo have a decent balance between IPs that mainly remain in one genre (e.g. Zelda) and those that try new things and encompass different genres (e.g. Mario). Everyone has their own opinion, but if it makes you happy we can say that our Star Fox was the best."
Dear Scribes,
     Hello, my name is Ian and a lot of people aren't quite seeing something I noticed about Banjo-Kazooie 3.
     Since X06 people have been begging for game play footage, screen shots, release date, etc., but it was a year ago that they made a CG announcement. It was saying they will start making it but instead of just auditory recognition, they made a trailer for auditory and visual recognition. Being just as big as a Banjo fan as the next guy, I found myself at the beginning hoping it would come out the next day (like everyone else), but then I realized I don't care if it takes until 2009 to complete. Seeing as it also took two years for Banjo-Tooie to be released on the same console, so it would obviously take longer to convert a game made two generations ago to the power of the Xbox 360. As long as it comes out so close to perfect God has to make sure it's not him, I'll be as happy as when I found out you were continuing my favorite video game series of all time. After the letter of inspiration, on to the questions.
     1) Do you plan on having a double level like Hailfire Peaks?
     2) Do also plan on having a level as trippy and confusing as Cloud Cuckooland?
     3) Is it possible that this game... ahem... masterpiece will support 1080p or will it max out at 1080i?
     I thank you for reading this,
     Ian M. Burton
There you go, see? He's just happy we're doing it. Cheers, Ian M. Let me just escort you over to the Banjo team for your personal response. Right this way, sir. Here's a comfy chair.
     "2009? Hopefully even Rare can do a bit better than that! Although we could delay it to 2010 in order to include Bottles' Revenge, the solution to Stop 'n' Swap and a new Battletoads level if you wish?
     "1) No. But we have got one that features a volcano with double entendres.
     "2) Yes, if you like inflatable sheep and polystyrene buildings.
     "3) Just for Banjo we have invented a future industry standard called u619455 which prints more lines of resolution than even the Hubble telescope can see. Seriously, just assume that Banjo will look good."
Stop the presses,
     An inside source who we will call J. Dark... no wait, that's too obvious... better yet, let's call her Joe D. has informed me of an incredible discovery. You have been secretly developing KI3 in the dark and dank basement of the new Rare facility and I have photographic proof.
     Come clean or my army of killer robotic-ninja laser shooting gerbils will annihilate you.
     Juan Jose Ruiz
It's not KI3, it's Killer Instinct: Ultratech Chronicles. While we still haven't gotten around to updating the series properly, we thought it showed a lot of promise as an FPS. Hidden promise, obviously. You play as Jago with a gun, and you walk down some corridors shooting dozens of palette-swapped Fulgores and Spinals and all that – we've taken great care to ensure that franchise continuity is preserved. Eyedol's heads explode when you shoot them! And he keeps on going! It's proper good.
Dear Scribes,
     First off, I must say that I love the games that Rare makes. As you might be able to guess, I'm gonna touch up on the subject of Banjo-Kazooie 3. (Loved BK and BT, but more the latter if you can believe it.)
     Don't worry, I'm not going to pester you with question of SnS, I just want to know how much of Spiral Mountain there is to explore this time. I was always intrigued in Banjo-Tooie as to what happened to the rest of Grunty's Lair past the Mumbo's Mountain entrance and the first Note Door. (I thought the entrances to the old worlds would be depicted as damaged and inaccessible.) It would be kinda cool if Banjo was able to enter from the top of the tower. Of course there might no be anything to find except Cheato's Second Edition pages he would complain about losing at some point...
     I don't know if you can give much (if anything) away at this point in time, but what is going to become of Mumbo & Humba? Will they serve their same purposes as in BT? Also, since Bottles is alive, will there be separate moves from each of the Mole brothers? Simplistic moves from Bottles and Advanced ones from Jamjars?
     Thanks for taking the time to read this,
Spiral Mountain lovers rejoice! You weirdoes. Banjo team rep Mr. Mayles says: "As we couldn't think up a clever new way to start the game we're going to be using Spiral Mountain yet again. We also thought we could get away with using the old N64 background but unfortunately someone noticed. We have however managed to come up with some clever ways of reusing this background. So if you liked Spiral Mountain it's all good. But if you didn't you may be a little unhappy. Actually, if you disliked Spiral Mountain and don't like cacti you could even be angry. So if we then come up with an awful name for the game it may be enough to tip some fans over the edge so that they refuse to buy it. Oh dear.
     "Both Mumbo and Humba will return, having spent the lengthy time between games learning new skills. Bottles will also be back but loudmouth Jamjars was fired for being too annoying and has been consigned to the videogame character Hall of Shame, where he spends the day chatting about the weather to Candy Kong and playing dominoes with the Battletoads."
Dear The Almighty Gods Who Are The Rareware Peoples,
I am here to ask about Banjo-Kazooie 3, Killer Instinct, and the future for the DS... LET'SA GO!
     1.) So for Banjo-Kazooie 3, have you got an official name for it yet? I'd go for it to be Banjo-Threeie because it makes the most sense (e.g. Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie).
     2.) I saw that Xmas card, and I saw you put a lot of secrets in that thing! I made a video on YouTube about it also. Anyway, I saw a stocking with "KI3" on it. It obviously means Killer Instinct 3, now I was wondering... is this a TEASE, or is it REAL?? TELL US!
     3.) I heard in the other Scribes you said that you were working on Banjo DS, but droppped it to work on Banjo-Threeie... is this true? 'Cause if it is, get working on it right after THREEIE OK? Please!
     4.) OOOH!! BONUS QUESTION!!! Now, regarding the Xmas card again, the stocking being blocked by Horstachio's head, what does it say?
     Please answer all my questions!! :D
     (And is there gunna be Xbox Live for Banjo-Threeie, because I'd like to kick some BK n00b ARSE!)
More full stop/brackets! When will the madness end? Say hello to Kevin for me.
     1) No name yet, to my knowledge. Banjo-Threeie would make sense, but has the disadvantage of sounding bloody awful.
     2) Oh NO! You SAW IT!! What a GIVEAWAY!!!
     3) I don't think that's what we said. We said there was a possibility of Banjo DS at some point, and we said that preliminary work on a Banjo-Kazooie remake for Xbox 360 was started before the team decided to build a brand new game instead. The Banjo team and the DS team are separate entities – the 360 bunch wouldn't have been working on a handheld version.
     4) Ryan (who did the card) claims it doesn't say anything. No, not even the bad word that some people think it says. If you think he's lying, visit the MonkeyZombieRobot art exhibition at the Brewhouse in Burton-on-Trent and see if you can catch him there. He didn't offer me money to plug his exhibition either, but I might ask him for some now that I've done it anyway.
Dear Scribes,
     After some consideration, it has occurred to me that King K. Rool of the Donkey Kong Country series is my absolute favourite videogame villain. As such, I'm dying to learn more about him and the Kremling race. While you may not have the answer to everything, I greatly appreciate your response.
     1. This is perhaps the most important question. It concerns the eerie, pulsating energy flowing from Krocodile Kore. The DKC2 manual states that the Lost World may be the origin point of the Kremlings. I'm unsure what this means. The Kremlings certainly held it in fervor, judging from the great shrine erected around it, but the nature of the power is a mystery. Where does this power come from, and what does it do?
     2. Crocodile Isle is described as a pirate haven, and was apparently in better shape many years ago. But if the business with the Lost World is to be believed, it's also the original home of the Kremlings. Was it still viewed as the center of Kremling activity and habitation, or had it been reduced to nothing more than a pirate stronghold? Furthermore, was this K. Rool's permanent residence or a mere outpost in his dominion?
     3. In DKC3, there are several mentions of a Kremean War. It also suggests that the activity at Mekanos was for the purpose of rebuilding the war machines. I assume this was part of K. Rool's plan to dominate the world with KAOS. What was the nature of the Kremean War, and was K. Rool involved even back then?
     4. K. Rool's attire has changed with each alias, but he has always retained his trademark golden belly. And in DK64 we can see that it stretches and twists as K. Rool does. I'm led to believe this is actually his skin rather than armour plating. If that is the case, is K. Rool part of a hereditary royal lineage?
     5. Before DKC3 even began, the Queen Banana Bird, guardian of the Northern Kremisphere, was imprisoned with K. Rool's magic spell. He's the only known Kremling to have demonstrated a use of magic. Are his abilities related to the mysterious energy in Krocodile Kore, or the fact that he's royalty?
     Lastly, there are some quick-and-dirty questions regarding misconceptions/mysteries that have been lying around for years. I apologise profusely for this, but I dearly hope to see them cleared up. How is K. Rool's name pronounced? Who provided his voice in DK64 and how did you give it that 'inhuman' touch? Does K. Rool have multiple personality disorder, or does he simply wish to improve his image using aliases? How old is he? Are bananas his favorite food?
     I've tried very hard to keep the size of this message within Scribes standards. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my letters, and for creating such a wonderful character.
     Matt Jones
Flipping crikey, that was a large one. And entirely devoted to a decade-old series of games as well. You don't get this level of fan service just anywhere, you know! Actually I'd better see how rubbish Gregg's answers are before I start making claims like that.
     "1) Oh dear, there's always someone who puts far more thought into the background of our characters than we do. Shall we say that the power comes from an underground Kremling kingdom located inside a giant scaly bubble at the bottom of a fathomless reptilian abyss? That sounds pretty cool to me.
    "2) Help me, there's more! Err, in this case I believe that the Kremlings sailed from the aforementioned abyss in their hyper-advanced craft (disguised as crappy pirate ships) but when they came to a traffic island (the Lost World) they hadn't got a clue what to do and simply crashed in a big pile-up. Satisfied?
    "3) I doubt whether anyone apart from yourself is still reading these obviously made-up-on-the-spot answers, but I suppose I'd better humour you. K. Rool was enjoying a nice pint of whatever reptiles drink down his local bar when an amphibian jostled his arm and spilt it. K. Rool pushed the offending frog over and the frog subsequently ripped K. Rool's cape. Things escalated and before long every lizard and amphibian was involved in a war before they decided they were friends, shook hands and then went to the kebab shop.
    "4) Yes it is and yes he is. In fact, it and he can be whatever you want.
    "5) Either. Or both – I don't care any more.
    "Pronunciation: 'Kay Rule'.
    "Voice: Can't remember, we have plenty of inhuman characters working at Rare so it could be anyone.
    "Personality: He wants to be a rapper like Ja Rule.
    "Age: 14 (as he was invented in 1993 for DKC).
    "Food: He likes Jaffa Cakes best. He stole Kong's bananas just to give us the bare minimum to invent some kind of flimsy game story.
    "While I appreciate your in-depth affection for our character I really do think you need help."
That'd absolutely terrify me if I was a chicken-bothering paper crocodile
     Believe it or not, this is actually the first time that I have ever written to a game studio to congratulate.
     I have been a Rare fan since Banjo-Kazooie, and currently own all the 360 games you've developed (except the new Jetpac... need points).
     However, I believe that possibly the most overlooked game of the generation is Viva Piñata, and I'd like to ask if that's a franchise that Rare will continue working on, or if the franchise will spill to different companies (i.e. Party Animals) as I really liked what I could only call... the Rare touch to the game.
     So, will there be more in the form of colorful Piñatas from everyone's favorite studio?
     Thanks for reading,
     Glen (known as FlubbedTripod online)
Master Justin the Designer says: "Well, for a start there's the Rare-developed DS game. That's due out his year and it most definitely has the 'Rare touch'. The Viva Piñata team is working on a new title that we hope to be able to tell you about soon, and should be in the shops before the end of the year (it's not Banjo).
     "I'm going to hide now as I've almost definitely given away too much information. Too late... No, Uncle Tusker, don't make me watch Tom Hanks in The Da Vinci Code again... please..."
Dear Scribes,
     I think that Grant shouldn't use an orchestra to perform the songs in the new Banjo-Kazooie game – he should create the music the way he did in past games. I'm probably the only one who thinks this but I don't care. Sometimes I hear a video game song that's been created with an orchestra (e.g. the Undead MP3) and it just doesn't sound as good as the original. The tunes and chorus just aren't as clear, you know what I mean? But you guys have more knowledge in this – I'm only suggesting by my experience with the orchestra version of Conker's Bad Fur Day in Conker: Live & Reloaded. Or the Zelda games. Actually, using an orchestra is good, but I noticed when converting a song previously created with a keyboard or something, just doesn't come out as nice when performed by an orchestra. Maybe it's 'cause creating tunes with an orchestra has limitations to what it can achieve, which the keyboard can easily execute (except for realistic drums, etc., which is why an orchestra is needed in these areas). What I'm really trying to say is: use an orchestra when creating most of the music, but use the keyboard when creating tunes that an orchestra struggles to achieve. I'll stop with the orchestra talk now.
     Imagine how good a game's soundtrack would be if you got Robin Beanland, Grant Kirkhope and Dave Wise all working on it. Well I thought it'd come out nice.
     I notice that people easily misinterpret what is said in Scribes so I'm just gonna say something and see what happens: oh my God! Listen up people! The new Banjo game is coming out mid-2008! And Perfect Dark Zero is going to be made for the PC! And so is everyone's favourite game, Anticipation! I'M g01Ng InSaNe!!!111!!!$#%
     Darren Borg
Replace Banjo, Perfect Dark Zero and Anticipation with Conker, Kameo and Wizards & Warriors, and... it still wouldn't be at all accurate. "Oh, Rare!" you cry. "You lovable pranksters!" We know, we know.
     Grant says: "I'm still not decided on whether to use orchestra on the new Banjo game or not. The Banjo games have always been a real mixture of instruments, some orchestral, some not. You'll just have to wait and see, won't you... but, would you believe it, Robin is helping out on the music with Banjo so your dream is two thirds complete... hehe!"
Dear Scribes,
     I'm a longterm fan. Well. Longterm enough. You had me at Banjo-Kazooie's release, so there.
     I'm not here to be critical or pose questions that have been asked to you lot till the words begin to haunt your dreams, but to ask this. My gaming future may rest upon the answer. Basically you lot ruined platformers for me. I could hardly play anything last gen without your logo, or that of a certain company you were 2nd party for a while on the box. Why? Your games are too good (as are theirs).
     I'm writing to ask you all what you consider the future of the platform game to be? Recent efforts of other companies have ended up falling into a schematic that involves no exploration, no collecting and a short, linear experience with virtually no reward, with single-button combat being the bulk of the game(s). Please Rare, assure me that this same folly will not befall the new Banjo-Kazooie game. I need notes, Jinjos, secret honeycombs and sickeningly hard Jiggy challenges!
     Also, I'm sure you guys aren't the sorts to turn down a good idea, but how about reviving an ancient cartoon called Pirates of Dark Water? You guys could turn a story like that into the kind of game that makes a Zelda title look undeveloped.
     Anyways. Me ruv you rong time. Forever an' that. Honest.
     Alan Herron
I would go into a lengthy discussion of the future of 3D platforming at this point, but it'd have to be tongue-in-cheek because I don't actually have any deep thoughts on the subject, and I'm pragmatic enough to know that you couldn't give a toss what I think anyway. So then: Banjo team?
     "I think it would be brash and very un-British to claim that the new Banjo is the future of platforming games. So we will modestly claim that we are trying to offer something that takes platforming games in a new direction. Whether this direction is a one-off or does create a future remains to be seen. But I totally agree with you that this genre has lost its way in current years. Despite pulling out hair on a daily basis while wrestling with issues that Banjo has never seen before, I love the fact that we are committed to making something different rather than more of the same.
    "Dream (the game that eventually became Banjo-Kazooie) was a story about pirates. We had Captain Blackeye, Grim Jim and Flintlock Jock. As it was never finished we can loftily claim that it would have been the best pirate game ever. And there would not have been a pesky ninja in sight."
  It comes to my attention that in Diddy Kong Racing DS, Banjo was dropped and replaced with a Kong? If there ever was a sequel to DKR (on any console) could Tooty fill that bear-shaped gap?
We'd probably go for a more charismatic character... like Mr. Vile, or Leaky, or the giant onion.
  Do you think you can add your chacracters from the n64,super nintendo, and gba to the new super smash bros. Such as banjo, kazooie, mumbo jumbo, diddy kong, conker, joanna, and mr. pants
Asad Melton
Sadly, no, I don't think we can. And do you know why? Because of your typing.
  I wanted to know if Banjo-Kazooie Three was coming out for the PS3. I am a big fan of the Banjo-Kazooie series and I think you have done a great job. I have every game. I want to get Banjo-Kazooie Three but I only see it coming out for the Xbox 360. Will it come out for the PS3?
Friendly Costumer
No. Do you do any unfriendly costumes? Like a Predator or Simon Cowell or something?
  At the end of Banjo-Tooie, Grunty's head gets knocked off. In your most recent Christmas card, Grunty's head is not showing. This means Grunty will appear in Banjo-Threeie without a head! I'm a genius!
King Tipington III
You're right! It's absolutely true! And I can see you're clever enough not to distrust us in any way!
  What the heck? I saw you guys in the Halo 3 credits! When were you planning on telling us? ;)
Kathryn Hadley
Okay, cards on the table. We did Halo and Bungie did Grabbed by the Ghoulies. Are you happy now? Sorry Bungie.
  seriously what is the deal with no n64 games on your sites game timeline?
The deal would seem to be you drinking yourself insensible and imagining things.
  This is a funny e-mail with lots of interesting questions for you to answer.
Thanks Jo! God knows it makes a change.
  Can you give some hint(s) on what Grunty will be? Example... skull head with cyborg body, skull head on some sort of animal or just her or something.
Mr. Jasius Johnsius Jackalton
Brilliant. Other possibilities: skull head on a massive banana, skull head with David Hasselhoff's body.
  Is there ever going to be another Snippets X Special? I'll write 30 Snippets myself just to get another special.
Bryan Skinner
Not unless we have a really bad few months.
Scribes – February 13, 2008