I can bearly believe it’s finally happening.
The gaming industry is filled with people that are either passionate or disinterested in the topic you’re discussing. If they’re disinterested, the discussion will wrap up immediately. If they’re passionate, they’ll have a strong opinion. Sometimes that disinterest turns to annoyance, and sometimes that passion leads to disagreement. The points of passion for me are Banjo-Kazooie and Super Smash Bros., and the point I’m making is that I’ve been met with disinterest or disagreement on this topic for my entire life. For years, I was told that Banjo-Kazooie won’t ever return, let alone ever appear on a Nintendo console again. Now, here we are.
At E3 2019, Nintendo pulled the curtain back on a number of upcoming games, but it was the DLC for Smash that had the whole of my attention. As you’re aware, the opening confirmed that Hero from Dragon Quest will be joining later this summer–someone who was less surprising and more expected after months of industry chatter. Then Nintendo dusted off its penultimate announcement, confirming that the Microsoft-owned Banjo and Kazooie will be added to the pantheon of playable gaming icons in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
For fans, Banjo is a long overdue addition to the fight title, and the reveal trailer felt like a homecoming of sorts when “Raring to go” splashed across the screen–confirming that they’ll arrive as DLC this fall. It’s odd to think that the pair were once so prominent in the Nintendo 64‘s marketing, only to fade into obscurity after Rare was acquired by Microsoft. In many ways, the bear and bird had become the elephant in the room when discussing Nintendo’s history–a once flagship franchise redacted from the records. But the fans never stopped talking about it, and eventually, Nintendo couldn’t ignore them.
What followed is some of the best fan service ever seen in gaming. Banjo and Kazooie are finally joining Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and gamers are ecstatic. If the reaction videos and expressing gratitude for Microsoft and Nintendo’s willingness to make this happen aren’t enough, then the reactions from the creators of Banjo should be. Even they’re floored to see Rare’s platforming icons return. Nintendo pulled out all the stops to, going so far as to bring back Banjo-Kazooie composer Grant Kirkhope to handle the music that played in the pair’s reveal trailer–with more yet to come him in regards to Smash. The attention to detail in their moves and stages is nothing short of perfection either, and it’s enough to bring a tear to my eye when looking over it all.
It can be seen as silly, I know. Being so passionate about a fighting game series and a forgotten 90s mascot sounds like a waste of energy. But thinking back to Banjo-Kazooie and its sequel on Nintendo 64 takes me back to a very different time in my life. A time when my brothers, my dad and I would gather around the tv to take turns playing through the game. We’d mimic the goofy sounds that the cast of Banjo would make, reciting “guh huh” and “bree” long after we’d put the game away. I remember all of those moments, and because the IP has been left dormant for so long, those are the rose-tinted memories that come flooding back now.
I don’t just see a cartoony bear collecting golden puzzle pieces and bashing baddies with his bird friend in a slapstick manner. I see me. I see my family. I see childhood friends that I haven’t spoken to in years. That’s what nostalgia does, and I know that I’m a sucker for it–but I think others are too. After nearly two decades, fans won out and their voices have been heard. Banjo-Kazooie is finally back home amongst Nintendo’s Allstars, but more importantly, its arrival brings with it the opportunity to make new memories.
You might want to check this out: Banjo-Kazooie: Japan’s Fashion Trends Lead to Banjo Wearing a Backpack
You can find Riley on Twitter via @TheRileyLittle. He’s been tweeting about Banjo in Smash a lot, so if that’s your scene then feel free to join in.