Ah, Rare, you ever-deceptive bunch of crafty gamemakers, you! Don't you be thinking you can get anything past us, we're onto you!
It's a well-known fact, and many stalwarts of the Donkey Kong Universe will no doubt already be aware, that in very early beta incarnations of 1994's Donkey Kong Country, an important role was to be played by popular cockney Hollywood actor Bob Hoskins, right down to his face being the original design for the extra life balloons. Sadly, though, the whole Hoskins strain of the Donkey Kong Country mythos has since been lost; seemingly forever.
This is absolutely, definitely a real pre-production sketch and not a crude MS Paint job. Definitely.
The story goes something like this: Rare were originally quite enthusiastic about Hoskins' role in the game (early design sketches actually suggest a bikini-clad Hoskins was meant to have his own hut on the map screens, ultimately being usurped by Candy Kong), but Shigeru Miyamoto--who'd held a lifelong grudge against Hoskins ever since that one embarrassing incident in Tokyo, Japan--vetoed it, and all remaining Hoskins content was removed from DKC. Indeed, there would be no further appearances of Bob Hoskins in the DKC series.
Or so we thought.
DK Vine has learned that key members of Rare's creative team felt Hoskins' removal a severe blow to their artistic integrity; this was war. Hoskins War. With that, the Hoskins counterstrike began with DKC semi-sequel Donkey Kong Land.
It was felt that by hiding Hoskins in the snowy hills of Rope Ravine (get your copy of DKL out right now and check for yourself! It's a hard-to-make-out image, but it's definitely him, be in no doubt!) would both satisfy the creative vision on Rare's side whilst appeasing none-the-wiser Miyamoto.
I couldn't find any more appearences from Bob in the game, but I did feel as though I was onto something. The Search For Bob continues!
Come fan favourite Donkey Kong Country 2, there was a little-reported company-internal controversy a few days prior to its release. It transpires that eagle-eyed Miyamoto caught wind of the Twycross team's Hoskins-themed intentions and had the game throughly searched by Nintendo's newly-formed specific-to-purpose Bob Hoskins Vetting Team. And find him, they did! Miyamoto immediately halted manufacture demanding all Hoskins appearances be removed. They were, but that didn't stop a few leaked copies of the coveted "Hoskins Version" to hit the shelves in some parts of the UK. Would you believe, he's in my copy! There he is, on the map screen of Krazy Kremland:
At this point, however, Miyamoto presented the Rare team with an ultimatum: "no more attempted Hoskins-inclusion or I set your studios on fire" (exact quote). Rare begrudgingly complied, and that was supposedly the last anyone would ever hear of Bob in the DKU.
OR SO WE THOUGHT.
Fastforward ten years or so, to the Game Boy Advance re-release of Donkey Kong Country 3 in 2005. At this point Nintendo's initially 300-strong Bob Hoskins Vetting Team had faced severe cuts following new management of the company (which brought with it a new "Not Indulging Shigeru Miyamoto's Every Whim Regardless Of Expense" policy). Nonetheless it was generally felt that a port of Donkey Kong Country 3--the first completely Hoskins-free DKC game on the SNES--was a reasonably safe bet. Oh how wrong they were!
I did some extensive research into the game's new world--Pacifica--and, well, guess what? Hoskins was hiding in those drain pipes all along! The screengrab on the left is taken from Dingy Drainpipe:
Easily the most heinous Hoskins appearence to date, I find it frankly shocking that nobody's ever been able to identify him before. An off-the-record interview (which I will now proceed to put on the record), with a Totally Real And Not Made-Up member of Rare's GBA team had this to say: "Yeah, dat whole 'oskins fing? It's somefin' we's bin wantin' t' do wiv them Donkey Kon' games for some time, but up till now it's not been possible 'cause o' dat bloody Miyamoto bloke, cor blimey!" I asked him if there'd been any repercussions following the DKC3 incident. "Yeah, he set me bloody face on fire, di'n't he? Silly wozza! Still it wuz proper worth it!"
As far as we know, Hoskins has since been sighted as a star constellation in Diddy Kong Racing DS, but with the DK series now in the hands of Retro Studios many now assume that'll be the last we see of Bob in the DKU.
OR SO WE THOUGHT!!
For only last Wednesday, Hoskins was photographed walking in and out of Retro's HQ in Austin, Texas. What will become of these negotiations, we can never know. All we do know is that Kinect Sports: Hoskins Edition is DKU.
An article-of-lies by Matt