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Last month, Playtonic Games, a newly minted developer from England, announced a "spiritual sequel" to Banjo-Kazooie. And today, we're getting our first look at some of the in-game visuals.
During a panel at EGX Rezzed, the folks at Playtonic showed off a couple of screenshots for "Project Ukulele," the yet-untitled "sequel" to Banjo-Kazooie. The shots don't give us much information, but they're already scratching a nostalgic itch for Banjo-Kazooie fans.
Check them out:
Even without the screenshots, Project Ukulele is already generating enough excitement to inspire a Kickstarter campaign. During the presentation, Playtonic studio head Gavin Price talked about the fan response (via Eurogamer):
We honestly weren't expecting as big a reaction as we got. We've had tons and tons of emails - a massive fan response. But it's good - we want that pressure, we're really happy with that reception.
Banjo-Kazooie is one of the most beloved platforming franchises in video game history. The original was developed by Rare in the mid-late 90s and released on the Nintendo 64. It spawned four sequels, but the series has been quiet since 2008.
This isn't exactly surprising. When Microsoft purchased Rare in 2002, the change in ownership had very little affect on the company's decision-making process. Rare was self-sufficient, and its titles were performing well, so Microsoft left them alone. But when Rare's numbers started sliding, Microsoft started rearranging the company's machinery, and focusing its development on the Kinect.
The stream of changes left many staffers without work, and fans were practically begging for sequels to many of Rare's former hits, which is why Playtonic's recent announcement was such a big deal.
Most upstart developers have to seek a publisher or find financial backing for their projects, but Playtonic is hoping to skip that step and work directly with its fan base.
Here's Gavin Price again:
Up until a few weeks ago [Kickstarter] wasn't really on our radar, but since we've had such a massive response from people - we're thinking that the game has to become a lot bigger, a lot broader, we want to do a lot more with it now to make people happy.
For Price, founding a development company with former co-workers means less experimentation. This is a company that already knows how to work together.
In an Interview with The Guardian, Price described it this way:
We’ve very purposefully set up the company to feel like old Rare. People are in close proximity to each other, we have conversations not documents going back and forth. We chat stuff through, we bounce ideas off each other. We haven’t got this grand design document that spells out what the end product is going to look like. Nothing like that. It goes back to what Tim and Chris Stamper used to do - they just trusted everyone.
Again, we really don't know how Project Ukulele will shake out. But when Playtonic's Kickstarter campaign launches next month, we should start seeing what the next generation of "Banjo-Kazooie" titles will look like.
If you'd like to check out the entire presentation, just press play on the video below: