Dream: The Game that Never Was

I started at Rare in October 1995 and when I got there "Dream" was already going. The core team from "Donkey Kong Country" had given DK to another team to carry on with and was working on this game which was going to be Rare's greatest SNES title. It was very secret and Tim Stamper was leading the team, nobody outside the team knew anything about it. Dave Wise was doing the audio on it at the time, Robin Beanland was doing "Killer Instinct" arcade, Graham Norgate was doing "GoldenEye" and "Blast Corp" on the N64 and Eveline Fischer was doing "Donkey Kong 3" on the SNES, me being the new boy was given DK 2 to convert to the Gameboy.

I finished my Gameboy conversion just before Christmas and Graham asked me to take over "GoldenEye" as he was really busy with "Blast Corps". Graham showed me how to get music and SFX into the N64 and left me to it. I did this for quite a while and then was visited by Tim and Gregg Mayles, who listened to my "GoldenEye" stuff and told me I was to stop doing "GoldenEye" and to come and work on their game with Dave Wise. I was shown the demo of the game running on the SNES and was blown away; it looked beautiful and was obviously going to be a big step up from "Donkey Kong Country". I was moved from my chicken shed into the block with the rest of the team and got to know them all. I spent most of my time with Gregg Mayles and Tim I suppose. I was given all the Lucas Arts games to play, ("Monkey Island", "Day of the Tentacle", "Full Throttle" etc) as Tim and Gregg were huge fans of the music and the way it channel faded depending on which area you were in. I really loved playing those games and the channel fading was something I would go on to use in the Banjo games.

Tim was really adamant that he wanted to have a very theme based game so as you could tell what character was around just by hearing a few notes of their theme, this is called "Leit motif" and is credited to Richard Wagner who used it a lot in his operas. So this is why the pieces I've put up on the site are all named after people in the game. Also Tim wanted to have real speech which was a pretty tall order at the time.

Pretty soon after I joined the game it was decided that it was too big for the SNES and was converted over to the N64, plus we were going to be using the extra "bulky drive" add on, that Nintendo told us they had in development. About this time too Dave Wise left "Dream" as he was also doing "Diddy Kong Racing" with Chris Stamper and was getting really busy with it, it was thought that this was going to be a huge title for Rare and Dave needed to be full time on it. So I had "Dream" all to myself and a lot to prove!

The game was a huge RPG, which I loved as I was a huge "Zelda" fan, and I tried to write some really strong themes for all the characters. The demos that I've put on the site are all using proper samples as opposed to the N64 versions which were obviously not as good quality due to memory restrictions. I was just learning how to use the gear really, I had a PC, a copy of Cubase and an old Ensoniq sampler with 32 Meg of memory!! I ended up writing 107 tunes for "Dream" in the end, quite a few of them have turned up in various guises over the years, but it was a real shame that the game didn't make it.

I think the final nail in the coffin for "Dream" came from another one of Rare's teams. The "Killer Instinct" team had started "Conker" and it looked and played fantastically. In "Dream" we had this elaborate floor system that meant we could stretch the polygons into any shape to create some really great looking landscapes that really hadn't been tried before, unfortunately the N64 just didn't have the power to run it at a decent frame rate and we were struggling to make it work. The "Conker" team had gone more the tried and trusted route as used in "Mario 64" and had left us behind. I remember Tim trooping us all across the courtyard to look at "Conker" and our hearts all sank as "Conker" was really good.

So we went back to our barn and tried their method, "Dream" started to run great. Then Tim was unhappy with the whole boy/hero thing and said we should change it to an animal. A bear was our first creature and "Banjo" the bear was born. So now we had "Banjo" running around in an RPG, I really can't remember when we added the back pack and "Kazooie" but it was around this time. Again Tim still didn't think it was all good enough and after seeing how good "Mario 64" was and with Rare's platforming heritage it was decided to scrap "Dream" and do a platformer with " Banjo" as the main character. Because I was writing RPG styled music it just didn't fit, and I had to find a more humorous approach. The first piece I wrote for "Banjo" was "Click Clock Woods", the spring version actually. It was until later that I started experimenting with the oddball style that became the signature sound for the "Banjo" games.

So that's the story of the game that never was........ sad really, but if it hadn't have been canned we'd never had made "Banjo-Kazooie"!

Here is a selection of Dream music that I have found.Just click on the links to hear them.

Hope you like them. Cheers, Grant.