When thinking of studios to tackle a Donkey Kong project, Vicarious Visions, now known as Blizzard Albany, may not have initially come to mind. However, a recent video from Did You Know Gaming, with information sourced from DK Vine, sheds light on a now-scrapped DK venture at the studio. Following their work on Skylanders: Superchargers – which featured Bowser and Donkey Kong on multiple platforms – Vicarious Visions expressed a desire to collaborate more closely with Nintendo. Armed with Nintendo Switch dev kits, the studio aimed to create a truly unique Donkey Kong experience for the upcoming console.

Reports reveal that within Vicarious Visions, select developers were secluded to brainstorm and discuss the project. The demo showcased a new Donkey Kong game set on an open-world island, emphasizing character movement and fluidity. Drawing from their expertise in Tony Hawk games, the team introduced a grinding mechanic. Interestingly, there were concerns from Miyamoto himself regarding DK potentially getting rope burn from grinding. To address this, Vicarious Visions proposed a quirky solution – DK wearing makeshift banana peels while grinding. Rumors also floated around about Pauline being a playable character and a storyline involving an ecological disaster polluting DK’s home.

Despite the promising premise, the fate of the Donkey Kong project took an unexpected turn. Activision, not Nintendo, ultimately halted development after just six months. As Skylanders sales declined, Activision shifted focus away from single-player titles, leading to the abandonment of the DK project. What was envisioned as a jungle-infested cityscape with momentum-based gameplay to reach higher levels never saw the light of day. Vicarious Visions would pivot to assisting Bungie with Destiny and later worked on remastering Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2. Renamed Blizzard Albany, the studio has since contributed to major franchises like Call of Duty and Diablo.

The cancelled Donkey Kong project by Vicarious Visions leaves fans wondering what could have been. The blend of innovative gameplay mechanics, unique setting, and beloved characters hinted at a fresh take on the Donkey Kong franchise. However, industry shifts and internal decisions led to its premature demise. Despite its cancellation, the brief glimpse into what could have been serves as a reminder of the creative risks and challenges in the world of game development. What are your thoughts on the unrealized Donkey Kong project? Are you disappointed by its cancellation, or intrigued by the glimpse into its development process?


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