As MundoRare, a shrine for all things Rare, Ltd., closes up shop (its farewell post lamenting the studio's decline is worth reading), the fan-site posted its final feature, an in-depth look at the company's cancelled Sabreman Stampede game.

MundoRare says the title was first introduced as Donkey Kong Racing, a GameCube sequel to Diddy Kong Racing, at E3 2001. After Microsoft purchased the British developer from Nintendo, Rare adapted the game's license to feature Sabreman, the hero of its ZX Spectrum/BBC Micro/C64/CPC/GBA series Sabre Wulf.

According to an anonymous Rare employee who spoke to MundoRare, the game was converted from "a racing game involving jumping from one animal to another" into more of a "sandbox adventure style" title for the Xbox in which Sabreman crash landed on an island, completed tasks for villagers, learned how to ride animals, and explored the area.

"[It was] basically Grand Theft Auto with animals," explained the source. "You have a huge open landscape and you can catch animals, and ride them around." Catching the animals to ride them was a controversial topic with the team, as it "involved catching animals that didn't want to be caught -- essentially it's a cruelty-to-animals simulator."

The Rare employee blames the game's eventual cancellation on a lack of design direction on the team: "... programmers and artists were constantly putting in more & more scenery, more animals with different handling, interesting features & mechanics. But, the skeleton of the game was just not there. It was severely lacking in major features, [such as] the game's progress, story, main tasks/objectives, etc."

You can read more about Sabreman Stampede's history and watch several new videos of the cancelled game at MundoRare.