While nostalgic gaming characters may bring to mind images of early Mario, Sonic and Generation One Pokémon, there’s two notable characters who’ve sadly been missing from the last generation of console gaming: Banjo and Kazooie, stars of the iconic Banjo-Kazooie games.
Whether you first experienced them on their maiden voyage back on the Nintendo 64 in 1998, or if you’ve been enjoying their most-recent outing in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, there’s a lot of love for the bear-bird duo, begging the question – when will we get a new Banjo-Kazooie game?
Could a new Banjo-Kazooie happen?
According to Xbox’s Phil Spencer, the decision to resurrect the team lies solely with Rare, the Microsoft-owned studio who owns the IP.
“I leave it up to the studios in terms of the things that they want to go work on,” Spencer told Kotaku earlier this year.
“I have a lot of respect for Rare and the work that they do. They do like building new things, and they’ve seen success with Sea of Thieves. I think they’re really excited about Everwild. But also the response to Battletoads was nice. And I think [partner studio] Dlala did a good job with the game. And so I think it’s just always a balance. My inbox is full of: ‘Let every studio do new [intellectual property].’”
While Rare’s main focus is currently the ever-expanding Sea of Thieves, it can’t be denied that gamers are crying out for a new Banjo-Kazooie adventure.
‘Put Banjo in Smash!’
After it was announced in 2019 that Banjo would be a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, gamers even made a thank you letter go viral following the reveal.
“We, the fans of Banjo & Kazooie, send our deepest and heartfelt thanks to you for making our dreams come true. No words can express how extremely happy, satisfied, and grateful we all are to you for including our beloved bear and bird among the pantheon of video game all-stars on the Super Smash Brothers: Ultimate roster. We thought this day would never come, but our dreams have come true, thanks to you,” said the letter.
“…No words can express the exultation and elation we feel at the sight of our beloved bear and bird back in action once again.”
Although it would definitely be odd to see yet another Xbox-exclusive Banjo-Kazooie (the game was, after all, made famous by the Nintendo 64), it’s hoped that we’ll still get to see one in the future.
It seems as though Rare and Nintendo seem to be on good terms despite issues with the Banjo IP in the past.
How DID Banjo end up in Smash?
Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz earlier this year, Rare studio head Craig Duncan explained how Banjo and Kazooie ended up in Smash, praising the team behind the Nintendo brawler.
“Minecraft had paved the way for that relationship between Nintendo and Microsoft. I met with Nintendo at the E3 before we announced [Banjo in Smash]. And then we connected our teams, because we thought it seemed like a great opportunity,” Duncan told the publication.
“We had an initial kick off call with Sakurai-san and some of his team. 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.
“And then a year goes by of sharing animatics and ideas and character concepts. It was a back-and-forth. We ended up with something that was really great. But the execution came from the Smash team.”
Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie in 2020
Along with playing as Banjo and Kazooie in Smash, you can currently play the original games through the Rare Replay Collection. The Collection is available via Xbox Game Pass and as a standalone game.
The Collection includes classic gems like Perfect Dark, along with Banjo-Kazooie, its 2000 sequel Banjo-Tooie and even the NSFW Conker’s Bad Fur Day.
Despite the old titles being pretty accessible for anyone who subscribes to Xbox Game Pass, it’s still not quite the same as delving into a brand new adventure with the beloved duo.
The last new game we saw was 2008’s Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, a title which was met with fair reception from fans. It’s now 12 years later and the closest we have is Banjo in Smash, which is great and all, but it’s not quite the same.
With Phil Spencer firmly putting the Banjo-Kazooie ball in the hands of Rare, we ask from the bottom of our hearts:
Rare, please, please give us a new Banjo-Kazooie for Xbox Series S/X!
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Featured Image Credit: Rare