Rare created a smash hit franchise when it came up with Banjo-Kazooie for the Nintendo 64 (and, later, remade for the Microsoft Xbox 360), but the famous 3D platformer adventure didn't begin with a bear and a bird in the starring roles, nor were collectible jiggies and captive Jingos in the mix. As Game Informer details, the project began as a Super NES role playing game featuring a boy named Edison crossing paths with a nasty pirate by the name of Captain Blackeye. My, how things change!
As audio designer Grant Kirkhope talked about on his blog, Project Dream had an "elaborate floor system that meant we could stretch the polygons into any shape to create some really great-looking landscapes that really hadn't been tried before, unfortunately the N64 just didn't have the power to run it at a decent frame rate and we were struggling to make it work."
At the same time, Rare was really impressed with the work being done on the game that would eventually become Conker's Bad Fur Day, so the decision was made to turn Project Dream into a more traditional platformer in line with proven hits like Mario 64. Rare co-founder Tim Stamper also decided that the main character should be changed from a boy into an animal. A bear had been one of Project Dream's minor side characters, so Rare took his design and evolved him into Banjo. Rare loved the design of Banjo so much that they included him in Diddy Kong Racing more than six months before the release of his own game.
Captain Blackeye didn't just disappear into the mists of lost game characters. Rare found a place for him in the form of little unexplained cameos in a few of the Banjo titles. While he appeared as pictures or portraits in Banjo-Kazooie and Nuts and Bolts, he turns up in the flesh in Banjo-Tooie drinking himself stupid in Jolly Roger's Tavern. Talk to him and he'll whine that a bear stole his glory in reference to Banjo and friends usurping the captain's game as their own. Poor Captain Blackeye. At least he found a place in Banjo's world as a development gag. Edison is still missing and presumed undeveloped.