Donkey Kong Racing was one of those mysterious Nintendo titles that dropped off the map after its initial announcement. It was first revealed at E3 2001 – trailer/tech demo and all – but Rare ended up being acquired by Microsoft and the project was canned.
As for what Donkey Kong Racing could have offered, lead designer Lee Musgrave told Nintendo Life:
“You would move between different-sized animals; bigger animals could smash through obstacles, while smaller ones were much more maneuverable.
“Over the course of the next 18 months or so, it went from being a track-based animal racer to a more open-world game with Tamagotchi-style features, in which nurturing your animal became a key mechanic.
“(the project eventually turned into a cute version of Grand Theft Auto set in Africa. It was such a wide game in terms of content, and the development went off into the woods a little bit. It took a long time to do, and at the same time we were trying to build engines for consoles we weren’t familiar with.”
Interesting stuff. Sounds like Donkey Kong Racing went through quite a bit before the entire project was eventually scrapped.