Playtonic has made no secret of its lineage at old-school Rare. In fact, that was a principal marketing point for the studio’s first project: Yooka-Laylee, a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie. After some personnel shifts at the studio, fans started to speculate that Playtonic is working on a proper Banjo sequel as part of Microsoft Game Studios, and that speculation has gotten far enough out of hand that the developer had to shut it down.
“We hate to be the bearers of news that isn’t what you want to hear,” Playtonic says on Twitter, “but we thought it best to come out and say – we aren’t working on a new Banjo-Kazooie game and we remain an independent studio.” Just in case that wasn’t clear enough, the studio follows up to say “We’re not at all working on the Banjo-Kazooie IP.”
The speculation stems from a ResetEra thread, after Playtonic announced that Ed Bryan – character artist for Banjo-Kazooie – had joined the studio. Bryan posted a photo of a Microsoft-branded bag and said “it’s come out of retirement!” Clear evidence that Microsoft is buying the studio, right?
“At first, we found it amusing that Ed Bryan’s bag is being used as serious ‘evidence,’” Playtonic says, “but we reckon it wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t set the record straight.”
While this is apparently not meant to be, such an announcement at next week’s X019 event wouldn’t have come as a total shock. Microsoft’s bolstered its first-party development with some smart indie acquisitions, Rare is getting in touch with its roots with Battletoads, Banjo and Kazooie made a comeback in Smash, and Playtonic certainly has the pedigree – even if the studio’s 2D effort has turned out quite a bit better than its 3D one.
But hey, that’s all speculation, and we’ve learned today how easily that can get out of hand. There are loads of other platformer games to enjoy on PC, though admittedly modern options for the sort of colourful collectathons that defined the N64 era are a bit thin.