In the year in which Donkey Kong returned to the scene alongside Mario in the Nintendo Switch remake Mario vs. Donkey Kong, we discover that Vicarious Visions ( studio now known as Blizzard Albany ) spent time developing a Nintendo ape game that never saw the light of day.

We owe the discovery to a report by DK Vine and to further insights carried out by the YouTube channel Did You Know Gaming?. The game in question had the working title Donkey Kong Freedom and was aimed at the Nintendo Switch . It was set on a huge open world island and aimed to emphasize mechanics already seen in Donkey Kong Country, but in three dimensions . The developers of Vicarious Visions had implemented a mechanic called “vine grinding” , which allowed Donkey Kong to slide on vines and ropes with his feet, conveniently protected by banana peels at the behest of Shigeru Miyamoto, worried that his character could burn his feet.

Donkey Kong sported a look true to his origins, only with bigger arms and smaller legs. The story revolved around the opening of a factory on Donkey Kong Island and the construction of a dam on a river that would deprive the island’s inhabitants of water. Supporting characters included Diddy Kong and Rambi the Rhino, and there were even plans to make Pauline playable in some way, but the game was canceled before the villain could be cast .

According to the report, Nintendo had expressed interest in completing the project (as also evidenced by Miyamoto’s intervention above), but unfortunately Activision was not of the same opinion. The abandonment of the founders of Vicarious Visions Karthik and Guha Bala (among the biggest promoters of the partnership) in April 2016 did not help the cause, so at the end of the same year Activision canceled Donkey Kong Freedom and directed the studio towards the development of Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy , a project that later proved to be a huge success by definitively relaunching the orange marsupial.