Former Rare dev on redesigning Donkey Kong, Star Fox Adventures changes, meeting Miyamoto, more - Nintendo Everything

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Former Rare dev on redesigning Donkey Kong, Star Fox Adventures changes, meeting Miyamoto, more

Posted on December 24, 2016 by (@NE_Brian) in GameCube, General Nintendo, News

Kevin Bayliss left a huge mark on Rare during his nearly 20-year run at the studio. As a designer and art director, he contributed to Donkey Kong Country, Diddy Kong Racing, Star Fox Adventures, and much more.

UK magazine GamesTM spoke with Bayliss (who is now at Playtonic) this month, and asked him plenty of interesting questions about his time at Rare. The topics we’re mainly interested in focus on Nintendo specifically. Bayliss commented on the process of redesigning Donkey Kong for Donkey Kong Country, the initial changes that Star Fox Adventures went through, meeting Shigeru Miyamoto, and more.

We’ve included Bayliss’ comments below. You can pick up GamesTM now for the full interview.

On redesigning Donkey Kong…

“It was straightforward, surprisingly! I got the word from Tim that we were going to be resurrecting Donkey Kong for our 3D project, and, after receiving some black-and white drawings from Nintendo showing the classic DK character, I got started. I wanted to make a heavy but compact-looking character and some of the first sketches were very chunky. There were a few concepts that a guy at Rare – James Ryman, a fantastic artist – produced, but Tim wanted to use the design I had sketched up as a starting point because DK’s proportion suited the platform game that we were going to create.”

On how the inventive designs for Donkey Kong Country’s other characters came about…

“Being located near to the famous Twycross Zoo meant that we had a collection of wild animals to explore just a few miles up the road. So we’d take our cameras and study the specimens they had there, which helped us come up with ideas. None of the crocodiles had crowns or body armour, but we just tried to make them look funny and memorable! Steve Mayles, Mark Stevenson, Ed Bryan [and I] all had wacky imaginations when it me to coming up with typical ‘Rare’ characters, and we still do – as you’ll see in Yooka-Laylee. Luckily we are still located close to the zoo, and so if we need to study behavior, we can take a ‘working trip’ to watch animals with an ice cream!”

On going from Killer Instinct to Diddy Kong Racing for the N64…

“I was excited to begin working on another genre that I love, and there was a new kid in town – the N64. This changed everything, and after seeing Mario 64 I just wanted to create something that really felt as though you were immersed in a little world inside the console. 3D was new, and after working on a violent game, it was nice to focus on something that was cheerful, rather than something with a menacing undertone. It was very refreshing, and a welcome change for me.”

On the background to all the changes made to Star Fox Adventures…

“The game started off with a tiger character running around and I’m sure we had a small dinosaur running around with him. After looking at Ocarina pf Time we wanted to create a huge 3D adventure that would [have] him travelling through a world filled with prehistoric monsters. However, soon we changed it in to a Wolf, it caught Nintendo’s eye. It was suggested that rather than try to build a new universe, we should create a new Star Fox adventure. The game was looking fabulous, even on N64, but with the system coming to the end of its time, the decision was made by Nintendo for it to be released on the new GameCube system, which was sensible.”

On meeting Miyamoto…

“I loved that trip, but to begin with I must admit I was a little homesick and slightly concerned about the language barrier. But immediately upon arriving there with Lee Schuneman and Phil Tossell, we were made to feel extremely welcome. The next morning, we went to the Kyoto office to discuss ideas for the story that would explain Fox McCloud embarking on his next adventure. We were taken to the Fushimi Inari Shrine for a little sightseeing and learned some Japanese myths about animals. Foxes in Japan are seen as heroic animals, and any seen around the temple are viewed as guardians. This was a real eye-opener into Japanese culture [and] showed us why certain animals are chosen as specific characters in Japanese videogames. We spent the whole week in the meeting room, with drawings all over the place, and I swapped ideas with the creator of the Star Fox characters – Takaya Imamura. We all came up with the story behind the game, and Shigeru Miyamoto very politely gave his input, before eventually reaching a design plan.”

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  • JasonBall

    IMO the Rare staff from the 90’s are the second-best developers ever. Great to see one of their prominent members talk about the design process!

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  • Διονῦς84

    I hope some Rare devs explain at some point why they replaced Dixie with Tiny, why they replaced Donkey in DKC3 with Kiddy and why they ditched Donkey for Chunky in DK64.

    • Max Bell

      Ditched Donkey for Chunky? What? They’re both in DK64.

      • Διονῦς84

        What I mean by that is that Chunky being a strong Kong was pointless. He wasted Donkey’s time by being an extra playable character.

        • Max Bell

          Ah I see. But they needed Chunky in there so there’d be another 50,000 collectibles to hunt down!

          • Διονῦς84

            hahaha true

    • James Jackson

      According to YouTuber Guru Larry’s most recent video, this was done to spite Miyamoto following his infamous statement in a 1995 EGM interview, “Donkey Kong Country proves that players will put up with mediocre gameplay as long as the art is good.”

      • Διονῦς84

        You know what? I had just watched that video before seeing your comment and it does explain a lot of Rare’s bizarre choices!

  • Tlink7

    I’m glad Kongs like Candy don’t appear anymore though… xD

  • That’s a fun read, and I’m so glad for him that he found some space in Diddy Kong racing after Killer Instinct, lol, I totally feel that. (After I spend a while catching up on Berserk, I go watch Aikatsu!, because by the goddess. . .)