When thinking about potential studios to work on a Donkey Kong project, Vicarious Visions, now known as Blizzard Albany, may not have been at the top of many fans’ lists. However, new details have surfaced about a now-cancelled Donkey Kong project that the studio was working on. According to reports, Vicarious Visions had expressed interest in collaborating more closely with Nintendo after their work on Skylanders: Superchargers, which featured characters like Bowser and Donkey Kong. The studio had even received developer kits for the Nintendo Switch and was eager to create something unique for the system.

The cancelled Donkey Kong project was said to be set on an open-world island, focusing on character movement and fluidity. In addition to Donkey Kong’s traditional abilities like climbing and swinging on vines, the studio had incorporated a grinding mechanic inspired by their experience with Tony Hawk games. However, there were concerns raised by none other than Miyamoto himself regarding this mechanic. Reports suggest that Miyamoto was worried about DK potentially getting rope burn on his feet while grinding, leading Vicarious to incorporate makeshift banana peels as a protective measure.

Rumors surrounding the project included the possibility of Pauline being a playable character and a storyline involving an ecological disaster polluting Donkey Kong’s home. While some referred to the game as ‘Donkey Kong Freedom’, it was revealed that this was merely a codename and no official title had been chosen. Despite the promising direction of the project, it ultimately never came to fruition.

The cancellation of the Donkey Kong project was reportedly not due to Nintendo, but rather to Activision, the publisher involved. After just six months of development, Activision decided to pull the plug on the project due to declining sales of Skylanders and a shift away from single-player titles. The setting of the game had evolved into a jungle-infested cityscape where players could build momentum to reach higher levels. Unfortunately, this intriguing concept never saw the light of day.

Following the cancellation of the Donkey Kong project, Vicarious Visions went on to collaborate on projects like Destiny and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2. The studio has also provided support for franchises such as Call of Duty and Diablo and has since been rebranded as Blizzard Albany. Despite the disappointment of the cancelled Donkey Kong project, Vicarious Visions has continued to make a mark in the gaming industry.

The cancelled Donkey Kong project by Vicarious Visions represented a missed opportunity for a unique take on the iconic franchise. While the project showcased innovative ideas and potential for creativity, it ultimately fell victim to external factors beyond the studio’s control. Fans can only speculate on what could have been and appreciate the glimpses of creativity and collaboration that emerged during the short-lived development process. Would the Donkey Kong project have been a game-changer for the series, or was it destined to remain an intriguing footnote in the history of video games?


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