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For fighter info, see Banjo & Kazooie (SSBU).
For the Canadian smasher, see Banjo.
Official symbol for the Banjo-Kazooie series.

Official artwork of Banjo from Banjo-Tooie.

Universe Banjo-Kazooie
Debut Diddy Kong Racing (1997, video game debut)
Banjo-Kazooie (1998, home series debut)
Smash Bros. appearances Ultimate
Most recent non-Smash appearance Rare Replay (2015)
Console/platform of origin Nintendo 64
Species Honey bear
Gender Male
Place of origin Spiral Mountain
Designed by Steve Mayles
Voice actor Chris Sutherland
Article on Wikipedia Banjo & Kazooie

Banjo (バンジョー, Banjo) is one of the co-stars of the eponymous Banjo-Kazooie series, alongside Kazooie.


Banjo is a laid-back, well-mannered brown bear who loves honey and, as his name suggests, playing his banjo. He is generally non-confrontational, desiring peace and quiet, and he often helps those in need, but he is strong enough to defend himself if need be. He is a foil to the sarcastic and loudmouthed Kazooie, his best friend whom he (often unwittingly) goes on adventures with. He lives with Kazooie and his younger sister Tooty in a small house near the foot of Spiral Mountain.

Banjo chronologically debuted in Diddy Kong Racing as one of the eight starter characters, which takes place before his partnership with Kazooie. He and Conker the Squirrel were recruited by Diddy Kong to help defeat the intergalactic pig wizard Wizpig. He is the second-heaviest character and races in aqua-colored vehicles. Although Kazooie does not appear, she is mentioned within the game's instruction manual.[1]

Banjo's first proper adventure, however, occurrs in Banjo-Kazooie. The evil witch Gruntilda, upon hearing that Tooty is the prettiest girl of all, kidnaps her and attempts to use a machine to steal her youth and beauty. Banjo oversleeps while this is happening, but soon awakens and begins his journey to rescue his sister. With the help of Bottles, the move-teaching mole, Banjo and Kazooie navigate through Gruntilda's Lair, a complex cavern in Spiral Mountain with links to many disparate worlds.

Throughout the lair, Banjo primarily runs, swims underwater, and talks to the various inhabitants of each world. Although Kazooie performs most of the duo's abilities, Banjo is nevertheless capable of performing a few attacks, such as the Claw Swipe and Forward Roll, while the friendly shaman Mumbo Jumbo can also transform him into various creatures and objects that allow him to bypass certain obstacles. After the pair get through the lair and confront Grunty at its peak, they ultimately summon The Mighty Jinjonator to push her off the tower to her doom; she crashes into the ground and is buried by the ensuing debris.

Two months later in Grunty's Revenge, Gruntilda's ogre-like minion Klungo creates a robotic body for her spirit to possess while her body remains underground. This newly-built "Mecha-Grunty" kidnaps Kazooie and travels 20 years into the past to stop the two from meeting, thus preventing her defeat. Mumbo uses his magic to send Banjo back in time and stop her. Banjo is necessarily more of an independent character in this adventure, able to defend himself alone until he manages to rescue Kazooie. The duo eventually send Grunty's spirit back to the future into her real body, restoring the timeline mostly back to normal.

Two years later in Banjo-Tooie, Gruntilda's sisters appear to rescue the now-skeletal witch, who promptly attacks Banjo's house and kills Bottles. Banjo and Kazooie set out again to chase down the witches, who are attempting to restore Grunty's flesh by using a Big-O-Blaster to suck the life out of the entire Isle O' Hags. Bottles' brother Jamjars helps the duo learn to work independently, giving Banjo several Kazooie-free moves that utilize his backpack to attack, relocate unwilling cargo, sleep to regain energy, and protect him from dangerous liquids. Banjo and Kazooie triumph over Grunty once again, and use the B.O.B. to revive Bottles.

Eight years later in Nuts & Bolts, the duo has become lazy and out of shape from their lack of exercise, having forgotten their moves from the previous games. Grunty reappears as just a skull and attempts to start a fight, but before they can, they are interrupted by the Lord of Games (L.O.G.), the supposed creator of all video games. He creates a robotic body for Grunty and a series of vehicular challenges for Banjo and Kazooie to go through. Banjo acts as the driver for all vehicles and can train at Boggy's Gym to improve his physical attributes, though with the game being vehicle-based, this is of dubious usefulness. After eventually having been defeated in a battle against the pair, Grunty is forced to work in L.O.G.'s video game factory. In the end, the duo have earned back their powers.

In Super Smash Bros.[edit]

Although Banjo & Kazooie do not make any sort of appearance in Super Smash Bros., the game's Japanese website included them in a poll to gauge interest for potential playable characters in a sequel.[2] They ranked eighth in a poll on Smabura-Ken, with 33 votes.[3]

In Super Smash Bros. Melee[edit]

In the Japanese version of Super Smash Bros. Melee, Banjo's name, as well as Kazooie's, can be randomly generated on the Name Entry screen.[4]

Despite Banjo & Kazooie collectively being the second-most requested Rare characters in the aforementioned SSB sequel poll (surpassed only by the GoldenEye 007 version of James Bond), they were not included as playable characters.[5] Super Smash Bros. series creator Masahiro Sakurai stated the following: "Incidentally, including a character from Rare in Smash would be difficult for various reasons. I know there are some people who think that Banjo & Kazooie are an obvious inclusion, but that's unlikely for a variety of legal and financial reasons."[6]

In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate[edit]

As a playable character[edit]

Banjo & Kazooie, as they appear in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Banjo & Kazooie make their debut as newcomers in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, with their and the Hero's inclusions being announced during the E3 2019 Nintendo Direct on June 11, 2019.[7] He and Kazooie are collectively the third DLC characters of Fighters Pass Vol. 1, and were released on September 4, 2019.[8]

Like in Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, Banjo provides the duo's basic movement and uses his Claw Swipe and Forward Roll, the latter of which function as his neutral attack and dash attack, respectively. However, he also performs a few maneuvers by himself that are unique to Ultimate, with the most notable examples being his forward aerial, down throw, and back throw.

According to Masahiro Sakurai, Banjo & Kazooie were heavily requested characters for a long time even leading up to Ultimate's launch, particularly in the West. Even after character reveals like Ridley and King K. Rool, requests for Banjo & Kazooie still kept coming in.[9] Sakurai later mentions that the duo placed closely behind Sora in the Smash 4 Fighter Ballot (with the latter being the overall winner).[10][11] While their inclusion would have been a natural one in the past, this was complicated by Microsoft's purchase of Rare Ltd. in 2002, during which it was originally thought that Nintendo shouldn't collaborate with their console competitors.[12][13]

However, thanks to Rare and Microsoft's cooperation, the rights to Banjo & Kazooie were easily secured, as Microsoft had developed a strong third-party relationship with Nintendo leading up to their reveal in Ultimate.[14] Phil Spencer, the head executive of Microsoft's Xbox division, had actually voiced his support for their inclusion in the Super Smash Bros. series in 2015 around the introduction of the Fighter Ballot and again in 2018 following Ultimate's teaser announcement.[15][16] Soon after their official reveal, Spencer said, "There wasn't anything kind of CEO-to-CEO that had to happen" in order for Banjo & Kazooie to join Ultimate, courtesy of Microsoft's increasingly positive relationship with Nintendo's third-party team.[17]

In their gameplay showcase on September 4th, 2019, Sakurai openly acknowledges the fact that the Banjo-Kazooie intellectual property is completely owned by Microsoft. He also acknowledges Rare and Microsoft's cooperation in bringing the franchise into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, as they were happy to see the duo in the game and saying Rare welcomed Nintendo with open arms. He even notes that if those interested in the series want to play the original titles today, they should do so in Rare Replay on the Xbox One.[18]


In other languages[edit]

Language Name
Japan Japanese バンジョー, Banjo
UK English Banjo
France French Banjo
Germany German Banjo
Spain Spanish Banjo
Italy Italian Banjo
China Chinese 阿邦, Banjo
South Korea Korean 반조, Banjo
Netherlands Dutch Banjo
Russia Russian Банджо


  • Banjo and Kazooie are one of only four foreign-created characters to be playable in Smash Bros.: they alongside Diddy Kong and King K. Rool were created by British developer Rare Ltd., and Dark Samus was created by American developer Retro Studios. They are the first third-party fighter to be created outside of Japan, and the first fighter in general to belong to a completely foreign franchise.
  • Banjo and Kazooie are one of only three playable characters in Smash to belong to a non-Japanese company, that being Microsoft; Steve (also from Microsoft) and Sora (from Disney) are the only other characters with this distinction.
    • Banjo and Kazooie are the only playable characters to have once been part of a second-party franchise, partially owned by Nintendo, before becoming third-party.
    • They, along with Steve, are the only fighters to hail from a current console rival of Nintendo.
    • Banjo and Kazooie are also the only third-party characters to have been created by the same company as first-party characters. Banjo, in fact, debuted within the Donkey Kong franchise in Diddy Kong Racing; Kazooie was not playable, but she was mentioned in the instruction manual.
  • Banjo & Kazooie and Dark Samus are the only playable fighters whose games of origin were neither released first in Japan nor simultaneously worldwide, with both (Banjo-Kazooie and Metroid Prime 2, respectively) releasing in North America first.


External links[edit]