Donkey Kong Country (Game Boy Advance)
June 06, 2003
In the Game Boy Advance version of the game, refernces to other Rare games have been added in Cranky's Cabin. This includes Sabreman's hat, that can be seen lying on a barrel in the background, and Sabre Wulf's head, that's mounted on a wall. Despite being decapitated, Sabre Wulf can be seen blinking. Another reference is Mumbo's skull from Banjo-Kazooie.
Apart from it being unexplained how it could still be alive, the fact that he's alive, and therefore the actual Sabre Wulf and not an imitation, makes this an in-universe link.
UNRELEASED (around 2005)
The unreleased game Sabreman Stampede was created after evolving from the never released Donkey Kong Racing. Like it, it's based on riding animals, specifically rhynos, possibly referencing Rambi, but it would be centered around adventure alements instead of racing.
The connection between the two was confirmed in intervews with the developing team, such as this one with Lee Musgrave which reads:
- Donkey Kong Racing was obviously pretty heavily tied to Nintendo as a franchise, and as Rare approached the finalization of a buyout deal with Microsoft it was clear that the game had no future, at least with the ape’s as characters. We switched it around to be a Sabreman game...
Rare developed Donkey Kong Country, so they were free to include elements from their own series in it.
Donkey Kong Racing was going to be created by Rare, but was cancelled due to a buyout deal with Microsoft. They were free to use gameplay elements they created in their Sabreman game, but it was never released for various reasons.