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Prerelease:Banjo-Kazooie/Banjo Kazoo

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This is a sub-page of Prerelease:Banjo-Kazooie.

This article is a work in progress.
...Well, all the articles here are, in a way. But this one moreso, and the article may contain incomplete information and editor's notes.


Following the demise of Dream, the team had spent the early part of 1997 working on the 2.5D platformer Kazoo. Everything changed about two months in, however, when Nintendo offered them a look at their premier N64 title, Super Mario 64.[1][2][footnote 1] The team saw the footage as a wake-up call:

"It was like, clearly... our technology [...] looked really old in comparison, and literally overnight we just thought 'That's gonna be the future of what 3D games are gonna look like'."

- Gregg Mayles[1]

As that generation of games would prove, he wasn't wrong. And so, Stamper and Mayles decided to shake things up yet again and bring the game into full 3D.[3] Within a week, the team had scrapped everything, overhauled the graphics engine (no more mesh system), and had the game's first "recognizable" level[footnote 2] in a playable state.[1][4] Its name would change again to reflect this-- from Kazoo to Banjo Kazoo.[3]

It is here where the game starts to resemble its final incarnation. Development from this point onward was described as "like pushing [a] boulder down a hill", as everything began to come together.[4]

"We suddenly had impetus, there was direction, everybody was committed..."

- Paul Machacek[1]


Ever since the original Donkey Kong Country, Rare had gained a reputation for employing various tricks to squeeze as much performance as possible out of their platforms, and Banjo was no exception.


  • The game's character models were deliberately kept "clean and simple" with minimal texturing to create a striking contrast against the heavily textured area models.[5]
  • On that note, making the levels as detailed as they were was itself a feat. An infamous bottleneck of the N64's hardware was its meager 4KB of texture memory. This meant any individual texture could be no more than 4KB large, which (for the CI4 format that made up most of Banjo's environment textures) was equivalent to a maximum resolution of 64x64 pixels.[5][6] The team got around this by cutting up large textures into 64x64 segments and UV mapping them together, in a similar fashion to the tilesets and tile maps of a typical 2D game.[5]
    • Furthermore, "decal" textures could be overlaid and blended into the background to allow for extra detail.[5]
  • The game's use of frustum culling[footnote 3] led to major memory fragmentation issues, which degraded performance. To avoid this they wrote a custom algorithm to defragment memory on the fly, which freed up space that could then be devoted to pushing polygon counts even further.[5]
Multi-segment textures
Textures In-game
BK prerel TTC tex.png
BK prerel TTC ingame.png

Decal blending
Textures In-game (without vertex shading) In-game (with vertex shading)
BK prerel GL tex.png BK prerel GL ingame noblend.png BK prerel GL ingame.png


The characters were originally intended to be voice acted, but the team decided not to go through with this after realizing how much dialogue they had actually written, the recording of which would have cut extensively into development time.[3] Additionally, there was some fear of botching the effort, as voiceover was still a relatively new concept to video games, and they felt the subpar acting seen in some titles "didn't [...] add to the experience".[5] As a compromise, they settled on short grunts played at various pitches to convey a character's voice and personality, giving birth to the now-famous "mumble-speak" associated with the series.[5]

Adding onto this, the team "thought it [would be] funny" if the characters sang as well (an idea going back to Blackeye's introduction in Dream). Banjo and co. were initially going to introduce themselves in song during the "hoedown" sequence, but the notion fell by the wayside and ended up unused.[7]


To do:
Tee-Hee heads and tower room door knockers-- mention here or in Dream?

"We swapped to a witch because she promised that she had more levels in her lair than the giant had in his castle. She claimed her levels were really good and the players would love them, whereas the giant was little more than a hopeless fool who was still trying to construct level 1."

- Gregg Mayles (probably)[8]

While Banjo, Kazoo, and Piccolo naturally made it across from Kazoo, most of the final game's characters only debuted in this iteration.

  • During the initial stages, a giant was planned as the main villain. He may have originated from Dream, or he could have been a new character. Regardless, he didn't last long before Grunty took his place.[8][9][10]
  • Besides the obvious Wicked Witch of the West/Snow White parallels, Gruntilda was also inspired by the character of Grotbags from the 80s British children's shows Emu's World and The Pink Windmill Show.[5][11][12]
  • Mumbo Jumbo's metaphorical birth can be traced to mid-April of 1997; texture file metadata left on a DAT[footnote 4] tape unearthed by Bryan in 2022 reveals that his skin texture was implemented on April 15th. In the Rare Replay video "Dreaming of Banjo", Bryan also notes that a character such as Mumbo could go from concept to implementation in a matter of days, so his actual conception likely happened not long before.[13]
    • This same backup also shows that his skin was originally green, if only briefly.[13]
    • As can probably be surmised by looking at him, his body is simply a Jinjo's with a skull stuck on it. Bryan joked that this was merely done to be "cheap", but it didn't stop fans from running with it and theorizing that this makes him a Jinjo (he's not).[7][14]
    • His voice clips were derived from the chant in Mayahem Temple's theme (or what would eventually become it-- see below);[footnote 5] when it was pushed forward to Tooie, Kirkhope decided to repurpose the chant for Mumbo, and so cut it up into short samples that would play randomly at a random pitch. His catchphrase "eekum bokum" emerged as a result of this ("if-come-go-come").[15][7]
    • His other catchphrase, "oomenacka", is a corruption of "Ooh, me knacker", something Kirkhope—who was being treated for a certain medical condition at the time—would often shout on his way into the studio after having come in late from a doctor's appointment. (He tells the story in lurid detail during his Guest Grumps appearance.)[16][7]
  • Several years before that, he also divulged the origin of Kazoo(ie)'s trademark "Breeee":

"The noise in question was a creation of [Chris Sutherland]: by day mild-mannered Banjo programmer, by night mad deranged person who sits and makes funny noises whilst happily coding away. We on the team have learnt to ignore his insane gibberings but have found it useful to have a sampler nearby so as to record any strange utterings that might be handy for the game.
    BREEEE came from a particularily loud outburst during Banjo-Kazooie when, while he was bending over to pick something up off the floor, one of the other team members inadvertently slipped with a large broom they just happened to be carrying and the handle ended up lodged in a rather painful place. The extraction was another matter altogether!"[17]

(Of course, given Kirkhope's penchant for strange responses on Scribes, this could well be a joke, but considering that the even wilder "oomenacka" story is actually true...)
  • Banjo's goldfish Roysten gets his name from the middle name of one of the artists, which the whole team was "astounded" by.[7]


To do:
Integrate the Rare Revealed stuff below.

"We wanted players to be able to travel to places that were larger than life, but still relatively believable in a fantastical way. Once a theme for a world had been chosen, we brainstormed as many ideas as possible that you would expect to see in such a location, then used these ideas to shape the world, before adding a twist of humour as the finishing touch."

- Chris Sutherland[5]

Multiple prerelease sources dating back to E3 1997 state that sixteen worlds were planned, but only nine exist in the final game. That leaves seven cut worlds, of which at least four are known:

  • Mount Fire Eyes (retooled into the lava side of Hailfire Peaks in Tooie),[5][footnote 6]
  • "mine" (ditto for Glitter Gulch Mine),[5][19]
  • "fairground" (ditto for Witchyworld),[5]
  • Fungus Forest (ditto for Donkey Kong 64's Fungi Forest),[5]
  • Hammerhead Beach (if it didn't become Treasure Trove Cove in the end; Sutherland claims it had something to do with Stop 'n' Swop),[5]
  • And (possibly) Mayahem Temple.[footnote 7]

The identity of the seventh world, if there was one, is a mystery.

The worlds after Mad Monster Mansion (as well as the deferred Tooie worlds) weren't drafted up until after the game was announced, so head here to find the rest.

Temple Test

After the new engine was built, the team put together a basic temple-themed environment to test its performance and refine the player's moveset.[1] This area actually appeared in screenshots and footage from E3 1997, leading fans to believe it was a scrapped "Giant's Lair" world (or Mount Fire Eyes, depending on who you ask). However, "Rare Revealed: A Rare Look at Dream" finally made it clear that this was just a test map.

The area consists of a large temple complex of vaguely Mesoamerican design, hemmed in by a massive wooden barrier wall and gate. Two large doors sit on the top and bottom floors of the main structure, while the middle level is dotted with crudely-modeled gargoyles. Surrounding the main building are various stone structures that Banjo can jump on. There appear to be no actors or objects on the map, though apparently there were meant to be some pickups (see below).

Concept art
BanjoKazoo 97-3-14.jpg
  • A few areas are marked as being intended for the Shock Spring Jump, indicating the move was already in place by then.
  • There are blue and green pickups on the ledges that strongly resemble the Crystal Coconuts from DK64 (though given the gargoyles are represented by orange blocks, it's possible these were stand-ins for something else).
    • The fact that both of them are strategically located before Shock Spring moments suggests that they may have been temporary Shock Spring powerups (much like the Springy Step Shoes in Tooie).

Spiral Mountain

No concept map for this area has ever been shared to date; all that is known comes from the Rare Revealed footage.

Early Final
BKEarly-spiralmountain1.png BKFinal-spiralmountain1.png
  • The wall platforms go all the way into the water. In the final, they stop before they reach the water.
  • The waterfall isn't present.
Early Final
BKEarly-spiralmountain2.png BKFinal-spiralmountain2.png
  • Conga the gorilla and three bull enemies are present here. These enemies don't appear until Mumbo's Mountain in the final game.
  • An extra tree is present that was removed in the final.
  • The Spiral Mountain is made out of bricks.

Jungle (Mumbo's Mountain)

Likewise, Mumbo's Mountain (which according to Mayles was "revamped" at some point during development)[20][21] has no concept art available. It appears to be a more overtly tropical area in the Rare Revealed build.

Early Final
BKEarly-mm1.png BKFinal-mm1.png
  • Most of the textures were changed. instead of a greyish-brown, rock-like texture on most walls and slopes, there is a grey and green texture, which appears to be stone covered in moss. the walls that enclose the level were originally much higher, and sported jagged rocks and mountains at the top.
  • The bridge is made out of logs in this build. In the final, it's made of rope.
  • There are 6 notes on the bridge. The final has 7 notes on it.
Early Final
BKEarly-mm2.png BKFinal-mm2.png
  • Mumbo's skull looks like one of the huts. The final design was changed to resemble his head.
  • The Juju totem pole doesn't rotate.
  • The Mumbo Token under the ramp leading to Mumbo's hut isn't present (though it might have already been collected in this footage).
Early Final
BKEarly-mm3.png BKFinal-mm3.png
  • A closer view of Mumbo's hut.
Early Final
BKEarly-mm5.png BKFinal-mm4.png
  • Conga is wearing a white tanktop. In the final, his tanktop is red.
  • Conga's orange blocks aren't present.
  • The platforms to the left are made of stone and don't extend all the way to the ground.
  • There are 6 blue eggs on the platform behind Chimpy. The final has 10 blue eggs on this platform.

A masked enemy standing in a T-pose which appears to be an early design for the Grublin enemies.

Early Final
BKEarly-mumbo.png BKFinal-mumbo.png
  • Mumbo's eyes were yellow and much smaller in the prototype, with his eyesockets being larger, his nostrils smaller and his mouth/teeth being larger, overall looking more menacing. His eyes have become blue and his face has changed to become more cuddlier and less threatening in the final.

Beach (Treasure Trove Cove)

Concept art In-game
BKprerel 97-3-24 1.jpg BKprerel TTCfinal 1.png
  • The starting platform is L-shaped, which can also be seen in prerelease footage.
  • Immediately after it is a field of giant clams. In-game, this area is mostly barren, and the Yum-Yums are instead scattered throughout the level.
  • Instead of plugging Leaky the bucket, switches had to be "bombed" (with eggs, presumably) to drain the sandcastle pool.
  • The lighthouse walkway is described as "rickety [and] collapsing". However, in the final game the segments are already pre-collapsed.
  • The flight pads were originally conceived as birds' nests.
  • There are rocks in front of Nipper that are not there in-game.
  • The pool north of Nipper is accessed by a set of steps. The final game uses a Shock Jump Pad.
  • Jiggy #9 is said to be found in a giant clam. This likely became the final game's Lockup Jiggy.
  • There is a bridge connecting the two ends of the inner arch that is not present in-game.
  • Interestingly, the only palm tree on the concept map (on Little Lockup's island) is not present in the final game.

Concept art In-game
BKprerel 97-3-24 2.jpg BKprerel TTCfinal 2.png
  • The walkway to the rock pier with the first X appears to be made of wood. In-game, it is mainly brick.

Early Final
BanjoKazoo Sandcastle.png BanjoKazooie Sandcastle ingame.png
  • The arrangement of the letter tiles is completely different.
  • The alcove is only one tile wide and contains nothing in it. In the final game, it's two tiles wide.
  • The water texture is different.
  • And of course, the game's earlier name is written on the wall. It seems the space/hyphen between "Banjo" and "Kazooie" had to be removed in order for the extra letters to fit.

Early Final
BKEarly-ttc.png BKFinal-ttc.png
  • Banjo is able to walk up the ropes by himself. In the final, he must use the Talon Trot.
  • There are rails on the crow's nest which were removed in the final.
  • The sides of the platform were extended in the final.
  • There are only 4 red feathers on the crow's nest. The final has 8.
  • The red feathers have a different design.
  • The flight pad has a different design.
  • Bottles' molehill isn't present.

Whale (Clanker's Cavern)

Concept art In-game
BanjoKazoo 97-3-25.jpg BanjoKazooie ClankerMouth.png
  • In the concept art, the two broken teeth are top teeth on the outside but bottom teeth on the inside. This inconsistency is not present in-game.
  • One of the teeth was intended to be Beak Barged in. In the final game, both of them must be dislodged with eggs.
    • The other tooth is depicted as cracked.
  • The pool of water containing Clanker's tongue is much wider and shallower in the concept art.

Snow (Freezeezy Peak)

Concept art In-game
BanjoKazoo 97-4 TL.jpg BanjoKazooie FP ingame.png

Concept art In-game
BanjoKazoo 97-4 BL.jpg BanjoKazooie FP snowman.png

Concept art In-game
BanjoKazoo 97-4 TR.jpg BanjoKazooie FP snowman2.pngBanjoKazooie FP snowscarf.png

Concept art In-game
BanjoKazoo 97-4 BR.jpg BanjoKazooie FP presents.png

Mad Monster Mansion

Interestingly, this world appears to have no working name.

  • While the church bears a rough resemblance to the St. James Parish Church in Twycross (which was, at the time, located directly across from Rare's offices), it was not intentionally modeled after it.[22]
Concept art In-game
BanjoKazoo 97-5-2.jpg BanjoKazooie MMM ingame.png
  • The roof of the shed was originally accessed via a stack of crates. In-game, Banjo uses a Shock Jump Pad.

Rare Revealed Build

  • None of Bottles' mole hills can be seen, so it's likely that he wasn't implemented yet.
  • All animated collectibles are static in this build.

Banjo's Jiggy Dance

Early Final
BanjoKazoo JiggyDance.gif BanjoKazooie JiggyDance.gif
  • The dance Banjo does upon collecting a Jiggy is longer and more exaggerated. It also had a longer jingle to go with it:
  • The early dance alters Banjo's position/rotation, so afterwards he has to snap back to face the camera.
  • The Jiggy magically reappears in Banjo's hand after Kazoo swallows it.
Early Final
BKEarly-jiggydance2.png BKFinal-jiggydance2.png
  • The Jiggy icon was originally a pre-rendered sprite with an image on one side of the Jiggy. In the final, it was replaced with a 3D model.

Clanker's Cavern

This level is the one with the most drastic changes compared to the final. It appears to be in an extremely primitive state, using default assets from Spiral Mountain/Mumbo's Mountain. It was changed into a sewer in the final game. This level was first seen in some very early footage of the game along with its early theme, later used in Donkey Kong 64's Fungi Forest. Clanker himself appears to also be in a critically primitive state; not only is he rendered as an organic shark, but he barely looks textured.

Early Final

Bubblegloop Swamp

The early version of Bubblegloop Swamp looked more mountainous than in the final. It also takes place at dusk rather than at night. This level also appears to be in a fairly primitive state, with many untextured and rough objects.

Early Final
BKEarly-bgs1.png BKFinal-bgs1.png
  • These wooden walkways were replaced with tree branches in the final.
Early Final
BKEarly-bgs2.png BKFinal-bgs2.png
  • An early design for the giant crocodile head. Again, the character is early in design and his eyes aren't textured.


  1. Mayles has claimed on multiple occasions that the footage in question was of a "really, really early" development build, before the game was even properly known as Super Mario 64, but this conflicts with almost every other piece of date-related information out there. Super Mario 64 launched alongside the N64 on June 23, 1996 in Japan, during which time the team (assuming everything else they've said is accurate) would have still been working on the N64 version of Dream. Backing this up are the dates on the Kazoo documents, which range from January 16 to February 23, 1997-- long after Mario had come out in Japan and North America. The game wouldn't reach Europe (where Rare is based) until March of that year, which makes Mayles' story more believable if he's talking about the final game, or a build close to it. Either Nintendo had shown them very dated footage (for some reason), or Mayles simply mistook a later build for an earlier one. (See also Super Mario 64's Prerelease page for info on that game's development cycle.)

    Muddying the waters further, Kirkhope states that Mario was one of the games that spurred the change from Dream to Kazoo (along with Conker, which—again—he claims was progressing so well because it was aping Mario), which makes more sense time-wise, but doesn't explain why the team would spend months making an "old-fashioned" side-scroller in response to Mario's "revolutionary" (as they themselves saw it) gameplay.

    All in all, it seems any info pertaining to what games inspired which phases of development is unfortunately rather vague and contradictory, and should not be taken as gospel (despite the affirmative wording in these articles).
  2. The video footage implies this to be Spiral Mountain, but Machacek could have also been referring to the temple test level, which showed up in prerelease screenshots after the game was announced.
  3. The practice of loading and unloading geometry as it enters and exits the view of the game's camera.
  4. Short for Digital Audio Tape, a magnetic cassette format developed by Sony in the 80s. A variation called DDS (Digital Data Storage) was used to store backups of Silicon Graphics workstations, such as those used by Rare.
  5. A.K.A. "Come and have a go, if you think you're hard enough", a phrase commonly associated with football/soccer hooligans in Britain.
  6. Mayles claims not to recall the Mount Fire Eyes name, and says that it and "Giant's Lair" were likely alternate names for the temple test level, but Sutherland states in the Retro Gamer article that Mount Fire Eyes went on to become Hailfire Peaks, which would indeed make it the unused lava level.
  7. It isn't entirely clear whether or not Mayahem was originally intended for Banjo-Kazooie: Kirkhope claims it was (due to the Mumbo-chant thing mentioned above), but Mayles denies it.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Rare Revealed: A Rare Look at Dream - YouTube, Dec. 22nd, 2015
  2. How ‘Banjo-Kazooie’ Became a Bridge Between Marios - The Ringer, Jun. 19th, 2018
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Dreaming of Banjo - Rare Replay, Aug. 4th, 2015
  4. 4.0 4.1 Rare Vintage: Part One - Edge, Oct. 11th, 2010
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 Pgs. 19-25 - Retro Gamer #36, Mar. 2007
  6. Nintendo 64 Architecture | A Practical Analysis - Copetti.org, Sep. 12th, 2019
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Rare Revealed: Five Things You Didn't Know About Banjo-Kazooie - YouTube, Mar. 17th, 2016
  8. 8.0 8.1 Scribes - Rareware.com, Sep. 3rd, 2001
  9. Gregg Mayles on Twitter: "@SeriousMatter20 That's the original 'Temple' scene we had at the very start of dev. Planned bad guy was a giant. Wasn't used in the game." - Twitter, Jul. 1st, 2015
  10. Gregg Mayles on Twitter: "@Junneclay @WinkySteve the giant never existed beyond just an idea. There may be early Tooty somewhere." - Twitter, Aug. 6th, 2015
  11. Scribes - Rareware.com, Dec. 21st, 2005
  12. Gregg Mayles on Twitter: "Sad news, the inspiration for #banjo-kazooie's Gruntilda has passed on to the great cauldron in the sky" - Twitter, Jul. 6th 2017
  13. 13.0 13.1 Ed Bryan on Twitter: "So digging through this old DAT tape again. According to the time stamp, Mumbo had his skin texture at 14:44 on Tuesday, 15th April 1997. I can't confirm whether this is the EXACT one on his model, but I can confirm that 24 minutes earlier ... it had been this lovely shade of green! ... And, before that. At 14:11 it had been this strange thing." - Twitter, Jan. 31, 2022
  14. Scribes - Rareware.com, Sep. 25, 1998
  15. Special Guest Grant Kirkhope - Guest Grumps - Game Grumps, Mar. 25th, 2013
  16. Rarewhere: Scribes - rareware.com, Apr. 11th, 2001
  17. Rarewhere: Ask Uncle Tusk - Rareware.com, Jul. 28th, 2000
  18. Ed Bryan on Twitter: "Here's a treat for being so kind. A furry Jinjo! From May 1997. I must have been trying to figure out what they're made of! Maybe it was because we were making promo things for E3. Maybe. Not sure. Any way ..." - Twitter, Mar. 25th, 2022
  19. Gregg Mayles on Twitter: "No 14: Design for one #RareReplay game can end up in another. Tooie's mine world was originally planned for Kazooie." - Twitter, Jul. 1st, 2015
  20. Gregg Mayles on Twitter: "@Twulfster That's really interesting. I had to redesign the 1st world of #BanjoKazooie because after doing a few it wasn't good enough." - Twitter, Jun. 15th, 2015
  21. Gregg Mayles on Twitter: "Mumbo's Mountain was the only level I had to redesign. The first version was rubbish, more a test that went a bit wrong" - Twitter, May 11th, 2017
  22. @Rare_Gamer: "Did you know that the look of the church in Mad Monster Mansion is inspired by a real-life location in Twycross? It's not far off from where Rare would have been situated during their time at Manor Farmhouse. Art imitating life!"
    @MitchTwitrKD: WOW! How cool!! @grantkirkhope @WinkySteve Any truth to this?
    @Ghoulyboy: "Afraid not! While it would make for a nice story, I just made up the design of the church. There are many churches in England that look like this"
    - Twitter, Apr. 13th, 2020