Earlier this month, a playable build of the unreleased Nintendo 64 game Dinosaur Planet emerged online – spurring much fanfare for its developer Rare and Star Fox Adventures (the game that Dinosaur Planet would eventually become on GameCube). Well, even more interesting tidbits about the game’s mysterious development have now emerged, courtesy of one of its original designers!
In a recent retrospective, ex-Rare developer Kev Bayliss shared about his time working on Dinosaur Planet. Most fans will know by now that Fox McCloud replaced Sabre, who was Dinosaur Planet‘s original male protagonist alongside Krystal. However, Bayliss revealed that there was actually another hero being considered for Dinosaur Planet long before that – a character from the Rare-developed Diddy Kong Racing!
“Fox wasn’t actually the second protagonist we tried for Dinosaur Planet, but the third…
After finishing work on Diddy Kong Racing in 1998, I started work on a project that was to become a 3D adventure game based in a fantasy style world, similar to that of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time but in a prehistoric environment.
The main character was originally going to be – believe it or not – Timber, the cute tiger from Diddy Kong Racing. That’s because he was intended to be the star of the previous year’s racing game, when it was originally known as R.C. Pro-Am 64
In Dinosaur Planet, Timber was going to be a ‘time-travelling tiger’ with a rucksack, little fingerless gloves, a baseball cap and a small dinosaur for a sidekick.”
Of course, this character soon made way for the canine heroes that Star Fox Adventures players will be familiar with:
“After rethinking the design a little, it was decided to change Dinosaur Planet’s main character to a wolf (Sabre), and also to include a 2nd playable character (Krystal), each with different abilities. At this point, there were no comparisons drawn with Fox Mcloud, and it never even crossed my mind that there was already a very popular “Star’ fox out there in a universe of his own.
About a year into development, we put a demo together for E3 2000 and I was looking forward to the game being shown. But once we got out to Los Angeles for the event, we were told that we were going to keep a lot of our work under wraps because we had a meeting scheduled with Nintendo to discuss the demo.
Apparently, NCL were very impressed with what they had seen of the game and so during the show we met and discussed the possibility of a ‘marriage’ between the “Star Fox” and “Dinosaur Planet” IPs to create something really special. The idea was to create Star Fox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet (as it was initially known) for the N64, but of course we eventually ended up transferring to GameCube as that platform released.”
Along with this interesting nugget of information, Bayliss also shared some his old concept sketches for the game. These include early concepts of Krystal, some dinosaur NPCs, and even Krystal with the Star Fox team!
You can get a quick look at the sketches in the gallery below:
As it stands, it looks like there are still many aspects of Dinosaur Planet that are waiting to be unearthed to this day! Let’s hope other developers of the game eventually step up and share their history with the game’s development in the future!