Diddy Kong Racing, developer Rare's take on the kart, hovercraft and airplane-racing genre, is fondly remembered by many Nintendo 64 fans. Unfortunately the game's canceled successor, Donkey Kong Racing, never had a chance at earning the same sort of reputation. It's always interesting to learn more about projects that never reached the public though, and Nintendo Life's recent interview with Donkey Kong Racing Lead Designer Lee Musgrave shares details on what the game began and ended as.
Musgrave explained that Donkey Kong Racing swapped out standard vehicles for animals, which the above trailer suggests included Rambi the Rhino, Engaurde the Swordish and Ellie the Elephant from the Donkey Kong Country series. Players could swap out animals mid-race, which would let the player smash through obstacles or offer better handling depending on the animal's size.
When Rare was purchased by Microsoft, Musgrave said the Donkey Kong license was dropped as Rare made the racer an "open-world game with Tamagotchi-style features, in which nurturing your animal became a key mechanic." Musgrave explained that the animal-raising mechanic eventually became the game's main feature, resulting in a "cute version of Grand Theft Auto set in Africa."
This open-world adaption of Donkey Kong Racing was called Sabreman Stampede, but its development "went off into the woods a little bit," Musgrave explained. Sabreman Stampede was never released, but Musgrave added that despite the effort put into its development, he feels the final product would not have been worth the resources.