Since Rare was bought out by Microsoft over a decade ago, fans have been wanting a new Banjo-Kazooie game. While the Xbox 360 did get a release of both games with an HD upgrade, Nuts and Bolts left a bit of a foul taste in everyone’s mouths. It contained a bit of platforming, but was more of a vehicle-tinkering game than a platformer, and with its commercial failure, it seemed liked there was no hope for a modern-day version of Banjo-Kazooie. Playtonic is formed by ex-Rare devs and has tried to keep Rare’s original vision of a company alive.
At EGX, they revealed what they hope is the rebirth of the 3D platformer. Chris Sutherland appeared on stage with a beautiful graphic behind them showing off their logo evoking the blue and gold classic Rare logo and using the BK font for “A Rare Reunion of the 3D Platformer”. The console war of the mid-’90s were run through with games positioned as ammunition. In an amusing bit, even the Backstreet Boys get a bit of a mention and he talks about how Playtonic is formed by six Rare veterans who worked on many of their SNES and N64 classics as well as Kameo and the arcade Battletoads game.
A graphic was shown with five characters and Chris stated that each character will be able to be in their own games even if they’re just NPCs in another game because they want to make a rich universe. Playtonic vows to not have ads, will not use a free to play model, and there won’t be any whale hunting either. Chris throws it to another member of the team talking about what their goal is. Ukelele will be keeping what works and won’t shoehorn things in, so there won’t be any nuts and bolts in weird places. Collectibles will be featured as well as wacky voices. The world will be explorable and the heroes will learn new moves.
We got our first look at the world beyond the initial slide that has been out for quite some time. The first world is a lush tropical area full of foliage, while the second world is a bit more industrial in nature with pipes, but still featuring a natural look with stone and leaves. Project Ukulele will be coming to Kickstarter in May in 2015, and they’ll be listening to fan feedback about what kind of reward tiers fans want. They’re open to the idea of using replica N64 carts, or maybe even doing a multi-platform release. In the first background slide, you can see a little green character hidden underneath a white flower – it’s got a bit of a sinister look in its eyes and the head shape is similar to the fourth character shown in the character silhouette slide. There appears to be another eye behind that character as well.
In a post-presentation Q&A, the team revealed that the game will be made with Unity and even if the Kickstarter doesn’t succeed, Project Ukulele will be developed. They talked about their inspiration for the goal to have each character be able to star in one game, have their own rivals, and then be a side character in another game being the Marvel cinematic universe and how each character can be in its own film or a co-star in another. The Ukulele name came from Banjo, and it led to an amusing exchange on if there would be a slide whistle instead of a kazoo. This presentation was fantastic as a whole and it was really easy to see potential for this creating not just one IP, but several – much like how Rare would tie IPs together in a single game as a bit of a stealth pilot to get you used to a character.