The project was called Savannah and Rare planned on implementing Kinect when it was ready, despite having "no real info on how good it was". Think The Lion King meets Project Milo.
They took their time developing the models for the cub and other wildlife but in the end it was never greenlit by new owners Microsoft. A video leaked last year - see it below.
"We knew of the Kinect coming out but we had no real info on how good it was, but the plan was to try and use that technology in Savannah," explained former Rare Donnchadh Murphy. "We really tried to push the technology of the Xbox 360 to get the most out of the graphics. The lions and hyenas were using a custom shell system for the fur, and with the help of a great programmer called Cliff Ramshaw, I think we got some of the nicest looking in-game fur I've seen."
Savannah was envisioned by artist Phil Dunne, a notable veteran with Donkey Kong Country 3 and Killer Instinct 2 to his name, who now works at Starfire Studios. Other projects never got past the idea stage either which included a Kameo sequel and a number of ideas from Chris Seavor, creator of Conker's Bad Fur Day.
Microsoft bought the studio from Nintendo for a handsome sum.
"At first it seemed that they wouldn't interfere much, but it was soon clear that they were more interested in using Rare to help aim at a younger market," lamented Murphy. "This stifled a lot of creativity, Rare was renowned for their diverse portfolio, so to not be involved in making mature games was a real blow."
He continued, saying there were "numerous projects that were put forward that I believe would have been huge hits, but Microsoft rejected them one after the other. I remember seeing a couple of prototypes that Chris Seavor had designed and was working on that looked amazing, but alas they got shelved."
Killer Instinct 3 was something the studio was keen to pursue, but parent Microsoft was not as they were "more interested in broadening their demographic than making another fighting game. So it never got made, I doubt it ever will."
Rare's duties today are seemingly limited to the Kinect Sports franchise. For the creators of Donkey Kong Country, Banjo-Kazooie, Conker, GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark to be left peddling Kinect... it's heart-breaking.