Rare says Minecraft helped get Banjo in Smash Bros Ultimate

Michael Gwilliam

Many fans were overjoyed when Banjo-Kazooie was announced he was joining the Smash Bros Ultimate roster as DLC, but as it turns out, an unlikely party helped make it all happen.

While Banjo was a Nintendo 64 star with two games on the system, his time in the spotlight was short-lived when Microsoft bought Rare.

Still, Banjo made such an impact in the 90s and early 2000s that many considered him a shoo-in to make the Smash Bros roster. There are some unofficial rules regarding parameters that a character must meet in order to be considered, but it largely boils down to the franchise having a history of some sort on Nintendo consoles.

Banjo was the second DLC fighter announced for Smash Ultimate.

That’s why, for instance, Cloud is in Smash Bros. While he may not have had an impact on Nintendo, Final Fantasy did.

As it turned out, however, Minecraft of all things helped bridge the gap between Microsoft and the gaming giant and paved the way for Banjo to return to a Nintendo console.

In an interview with Games Industry Rare studio head Craig Duncan explained how the partnership came about.

“Minecraft had paved the way for that relationship between Nintendo and Microsoft,” he revealed. “I met with Nintendo at the E3 before we announced it. And then we connected our teams, because we thought it seemed like a great opportunity.”

“We had an initial kick off call with Sakurai-san and some of his team,” he explained. “There was myself, Gregg Mayles… who is the father of Banjo, even though he hates it when we call him that. Andrew Wensley, who runs our business team. And a chap called Paul Cunningham, who runs our partnerships. Those people had a conversation, [Nintendo] talked through what their approach would be, and then that process started.”

After a year of sharing concepts and back-and-forth discussions, they “ended up with something that was really great.”

Many fans were shocked when Banjo was announced for Smash.

Duncan noted, that the execution of the whole partnership “came from the Smash team.”

Considering Minecraft’s global appeal and hype, one has to wonder if Steve – the game’s main protagonist – will ever be making it to Smash Bros himself.

With six new fighters announced for Nintendo’s flagship fighter, it will be fun to see what the future holds, especially considering the title already helped assist with bringing Banjo to Smash.

About The Author

Michael Gwilliam is a senior writer at Dexerto based in Ontario, Canada. He specializes in Overwatch, Smash, influencers, and Twitch culture. Gwilliam has written for sites across Canada including the Toronto Sun. You can contact him at michael.gwilliam@dexerto.com or on Twitter @TheGwilliam