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Banjo-Kazooie (universe)

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Banjo-Kazooie (universe)
Banjo Kazooie logo.png

Official symbol for the Banjo-Kazooie series.
Developer(s) Rare Ltd.
4J Studios
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Xbox Game Studios
Designer(s) Gregg Mayles
Steve Mayles
Genre(s) Platformer
Console/platform of origin Nintendo 64
First installment Banjo-Kazooie (1998)
Latest installment Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts (2008)
Article on Wikipedia Banjo-Kazooie (universe)

The Banjo-Kazooie universe (バンジョーとカズーイの大冒険, Banjo and Kazooie's Great Adventure) refers to the Super Smash Bros. series' collection of characters, stages, and properties hailing from the series of platformers created by the UK-based development studio Rare Ltd. The games feature the titular duo, the bear Banjo and the bird Kazooie, collecting various items in sandbox-like environments in order to progress. They are often considered to be among the most popular and recognizable titles Rare has ever developed, alongside the original Donkey Kong Country series, GoldenEye 007, and Sea of Thieves. Originally a second-party Nintendo franchise, the series and its developer have remained under the ownership of Microsoft since their acquisition on September 24th, 2002.

Franchise description[edit]

Concept artwork of Banjo from Project Dream.

With the massive critical and commercial success of the first two Donkey Kong Country games, recognized for their use of pre-rendered CG graphics created on Silicon Graphics workstations, developer Rare wanted to produce more titles utilizing this advanced graphics technology as their groundwork. Among the new games in production was Project Dream (also known as Dream: Land of Giants), a role-playing game being developed in tandem with Donkey Kong Country 3. Inspired by other action-adventure titles like Nintendo's own The Legend of Zelda series, this game would have starred a lone human boy named Edson[1] in a pirate-themed fantasy adventure to stop the ambitions of Captain Blackeye and his band of pirates. The game was planned to be Rare's swan song for the SNES, but as the console neared the end of its lifespan and the game's size and scope increased, it was eventually decided to move production to Nintendo's then-upcoming console, the Nintendo 64.

In an attempt to appeal to a more mature audience, the game's fantasy themes were de-emphasized and its pirate themes strengthened. As development progressed, the team decided that Edson was losing his relevance and replaced him with a different protagonist. He was first swapped for a rabbit, and eventually, a honey bear, whom they gave a backpack to store his belongings. The development team soon realized their game was becoming too ambitious for its own good, so they chose to retool it into a linear 2.5D platformer. When the team saw an early build of Nintendo's Super Mario 64, they realized it would set the standard for 3D gaming and make Dream look outdated in comparison. As a result, they restarted its development one last time, restoring the fantasy themes and using Super Mario 64 as their basis. This final iteration was what eventually became Banjo-Kazooie.

While designing a moveset for the titular Banjo, the team experimented with various ideas on how to improve and expand upon Mario's moveset in Super Mario 64; namely, the ability to double jump and run faster. As Banjo's character model did not apply itself easily to these ideas, they were initially accomplished by simply having wings and legs sprout out of his backpack when necessary. This eventually led to the logical conclusion of a separate character living in Banjo's backpack: a bird named Kazooie. Variation was added to the gameplay through the shaman Mumbo Jumbo, who transforms Banjo into different creatures and objects with unique abilities. With the game's pirate themes gradually diminishing, the role of antagonist was passed from Captain Blackeye to a green witch named Gruntilda. At one point full voice acting was considered, but the team quickly realized how much dialogue would have to be recorded and how much it would slow down development. Instead, they opted for garbled voice clips that sync up to the text, becoming a series staple ever since. To help promote the upcoming title, as well as fill in the vacant holiday release schedule, Banjo was added as a playable character and made his video game debut in Diddy Kong Racing in November 1997. While Kazooie is not present or mentioned in-game, she is mentioned in the instruction manual.

Banjo-Kazooie was initially released in June 1998 to critical acclaim and strong sales relative to the size of the Nintendo 64 owner-base, with praise to its detailed graphics, witty dialogue, dynamic soundtrack, colorful cast of characters, and improvements over the foundation laid by Super Mario 64 across the board. Along with other recognizable titles such as GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark, Donkey Kong 64, and Conker's Bad Fur Day, this game cemented Rare's reputation as a top-tier developer for the platform. The eponymous duo became synonymous with not only the company but also the Nintendo 64 itself. Owing to this success, a direct sequel titled Banjo-Tooie was released in November 2000, featuring a more elaborate plot with a darker tone, Mumbo Jumbo as an additional playable character, multiple new gameplay styles including first-person shooter segments, local multiplayer, and a large interconnected world. The duology confounded the gaming community for many years with the mysterious "Stop 'N' Swop" feature, originally meant to use an unintentional quirk of the N64 hardware to transfer data between different cartridges for unlocking special bonuses. However, the feature was removed at the last minute both at Nintendo's behest and due to newer N64 models making it infeasible. A Game Boy Color spin-off title called Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Curse was also in development at the same time as Banjo-Tooie, but it ran into development issues, and ended up being moved to the upcoming Game Boy Advance.

While the Banjo-Kazooie intellectual property was initially a second-party Nintendo franchise, and Banjo and Kazooie were marketed as "Nintendo characters" alongside first-party creations such as the aforementioned Super Mario 64 as well as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Star Fox 64, the property was transferred in full to Microsoft upon its purchase of Rare on September 24th, 2002. However, since Microsoft had no stake in the handheld gaming market, Rare was permitted to develop two spin-offs for the Game Boy Advance. The first was the retooled version of Grunty's Curse, Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge — an "interquel" with a time-travel plot that takes place between the two N64 games. The other was Banjo-Pilot, an airplane-based racing game retooled from a Diddy Kong Racing sequel following the 2002 acquisition. Neither of these titles were released outside of North America and Europe, marking the first time the series has not had a release in Japan.

Rare also teamed with mobile phone game producer In-Fusio to create a port of Grunty's Revenge titled Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge Mobile, and a collection of minigames titled Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge Missions. A puzzle game titled Banjo's Jiggy Juggle was also in development, but was scrapped and later became It's Mr. Pants.

A third console entry was greatly contested within Rare, as the team initially struggled to find a central focus. Concepts for this third game included an expanded remake of the first game with certain gameplay segments altered (internally called Banjo-X), and a game focusing more directly on the duo's rivalry with Gruntilda wherein they would compete in a series of rapid-fire challenges. Another project, titled Banjo-Karting, was in development as an early Xbox 360 title. Unrelated to Banjo-Pilot, this title was a more standard kart racer with a high emphasis on vehicle customization.

The kart racer project was ultimately the basis for the team's final concept: constructing vehicles to traverse large, sandbox-like hub worlds and complete missions. This became the foundation for Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, released for the Xbox 360 in November 2008, which prominently features a 3D editor in which the player can construct a multitude of vehicles ranging from four-wheelers to hovercrafts to biplanes. The art style and character designs were also updated for this new game, as it was thought that using high-resolution versions of the Nintendo 64 models lost a lot of the charm in the translation. Thus, everything became more angular and cuboid to match the building-block aesthetic, and the environments and hub worlds were designed to complement the themes of construction. Though it received mostly positive reviews from critics, it was highly polarizing due to its deviation from the traditional 3D platforming formula of the original duology. The game became infamous in the following years as fans felt their expectations were subverted, and in the meantime, Rare temporarily shifted focus away from its original properties to develop games for the Kinect starting in 2010.

Between 2008 and 2010, Nuts & Bolts was followed up by downloadable HD remasters of the two N64 titles on Xbox Live Arcade courtesy of 4J Studios (while also implementing a retooled Stop 'N' Swop feature), as well as Banjo and Kazooie's guest appearance in the Xbox 360 version of Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. Banjo-Kazooie series characters also appear as downloadable skin packs in all versions of Minecraft. Finally, at E3 2015, Rare temporarily shifted focus back to its existing intellectual properties when they announced Rare Replay, a compilation of thirty titles from across Rare's storied history in celebration of their 30th anniversary as a development studio. Released exclusively for the Xbox One in August 2015, this collection featured all three home console installments in the Banjo-Kazooie series, including achievements, developer interviews, and remixed challenges. The original Nintendo 64 version of Banjo-Kazooie was released on the Nintendo Switch for subscribers of Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack on January 20th, 2022, making its first rerelease on a Nintendo console. It was the first release of any Banjo-Kazooie series game on a Nintendo console since Banjo-Pilot 17 years prior.

However, apart from these rereleases, the Banjo-Kazooie series has stayed largely dormant since the release of Nuts & Bolts. In that time, the majority of the original creative team had split away from Rare to form an independent studio, Playtonic Games; they crowdfunded and released their first project, a spiritual successor titled Yooka-Laylee, in 2017 to generally mixed reception.

Banjo & Kazooie were particularly popular character requests for the Super Smash Bros. series as far back as the release of the original Nintendo 64 installment; on an official Japanese poll regarding characters for a potential sequel, they placed 8th, above characters such as Marth and Meta Knight.[2] Similarly, after the release of Super Smash Bros. Melee, Masahiro Sakurai noted in response to a fan that Banjo & Kazooie could be considered a natural inclusion, but including them was "unlikely for a variety of legal and financial reasons".[3] The duo were meant to cameo as a trophy, but had to be cut for similar reasons.[4]

Ultimately, the duo would finally be included as DLC fighters for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, roughly 17 years after the Microsoft buyout due to popular demand. Requests for the characters to appear as playable fighters persisted even after the additions of other highly requested characters like Ridley and King K. Rool.[5] The developers at Rare were aware of the long-running demand and, with work starting in 2018 and spearheaded by artist Paul Cunningham, worked closely with Nintendo in developing Banjo & Kazooie for Ultimate, including their designs, moveset, and music selections.[6][7] In addition Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox brand, stated in an interview following the reveal that he was open to including the characters in the Super Smash Bros. series for a long time (even stating as such on his Twitter account[8]), and doing so as part of Ultimate's Fighters Pass Vol. 1 was an "easy deal to make" due to Microsoft's strong third-party relationship with Nintendo leading up to their reveal.[9]

In Super Smash Bros.[edit]

Banjo and Kazooie make no appearance in Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64. However, in an official poll held on Smabura-Ken (the game's official Japanese website) regarding characters for a potential sequel, Banjo & Kazooie ranked eighth with 33 votes.[2]

In Super Smash Bros. Melee[edit]

In the Japanese version of Super Smash Bros. Melee, Banjo & Kazooie's names can be randomly generated on the Name Entry screen.[10]

Based on responses from fan questions confirming that Banjo & Kazooie would not be appearing in Melee,[3] a popular rumor of the duo being cut from the game manifested, claiming that they (along with James Bond from GoldenEye 007[11]) were planned for inclusion, but ultimately cut because Sakurai could not secure the rights from Rare. However, Sakurai only said that the characters would be difficult to include, not that he had planned to include them.

In Super Smash Bros. Brawl[edit]

Both Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie are mentioned among the titles listed in the Chronicle in PAL versions of Brawl. However, no other content from the series is seen anywhere else in the game.

In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate[edit]

The Banjo-Kazooie franchise makes its highly-requested debut as the third DLC franchise in the Fighters Pass Vol. 1, being officially announced in the E3 2019 Nintendo Direct alongside the Hero from the Dragon Quest series. In addition to Banjo & Kazooie appearing as a single playable fighter, their series is represented with a stage with multiple cameo appearances, ten music tracks, and nine Spirits. All of the representation from this series was released on September 4th, 2019 as part of the version 5.0.0 update and its associated new content.


  • 73.
    Banjo & Kazooie (DLC): The easy-going honey bear and his snarky breegull sidekick make their long-awaited debut together as the third newcomer from the Fighters Pass Vol. 1. Like Duck Hunt, Banjo & Kazooie work in tandem for their attacks as a single unit, utilizing abilities taken from their Nintendo 64 appearances such as the Beak Buster, Rat-a-Tat Rap, Breegull Bash, Egg Firing, Breegull Blaster and Wonderwing, and summoning The Mighty Jinjonator for their Final Smash. They were released alongside Spiral Mountain and its ten music tracks on September 4th, 2019 as part of Challenger Pack 3.


  • SpiralMountainIconSSBU.png
    Spiral Mountain (DLC): A stage based on Banjo & Kazooie's homeland, which has appeared in every Banjo-Kazooie game since its debut. Several characters from the Banjo-Kazooie series make cameos in the background, such as Banjo's sister Tooty, the nearsighted-but-smart mole Bottles, the eccentric magic shaman Mumbo Jumbo, and the rhyming witch villain Gruntilda Winkybunion, in addition to the recurring dragonfly-like enemies Buzzbombs and the collectable Jinjos. The main spiral structure in the center of the stage will occasionally turn, bringing in additional terrain onto the plane of battle. Several notable landmarks are fully rendered, such as Banjo's house and Gruntilda's Lair. Like Umbra Clock Tower and Yggdrasil's Altar, some floating platforms will appear as the spiral stops. The stage was released on September 4th, 2019 as part of Challenger Pack 3.


Original Tracks[edit]

Arrangements and remixes unique to Ultimate.

  • Main Theme - Banjo-Kazooie (DLC): A faster-paced trap arrangement of the opening cutscene theme from Banjo-Kazooie. Does not stop looping unlike the original composition. Arranged by Masafumi Takada.
  • Spiral Mountain (DLC): A faster-paced orchestral arrangement of the theme of the starting area from Banjo-Kazooie, Spiral Mountain, while also incorporating elements of Treasure Trove Cove, Freezeezy Peak, Gruntilda's Lair, and Rusty Bucket Bay from Banjo-Kazooie, as well as Mayahem Temple from Banjo-Tooie. Arranged by Grant Kirkhope, the long-time composer of the Banjo-Kazooie series.
  • Mumbo's Mountain (DLC): A faster-paced jazz-inspired remix of the background track for the first level in Banjo-Kazooie, Mumbo's Mountain. Arranged by Hiroki Hashimoto.
  • Treasure Trove Cove (DLC): A techno remix of the background track for the second level in Banjo-Kazooie, Treasure Trove Cove. Arranged by Yoko Shimomura.
  • Gobi's Valley (DLC): A surf rock remix of the background track for the sixth level in Banjo-Kazooie, Gobi's Valley. Also contains an extended remix of the theme of Gruntilda's Lair. Arranged by Yuji Masubuchi.
  • Mad Monster Mansion (DLC): A bombastic pop remix of the background track for the seventh level of Banjo-Kazooie, Mad Monster Mansion. Arranged by Michiko Naruke.
  • Vs. Klungo (DLC): An orchestrated remix of the background track for the boss fights against Klungo, Gruntilda's personal henchman, in Banjo-Tooie. Arranged by Hideki Sakamoto.

Source Tracks[edit]

Tracks sourced directly from the Banjo-Kazooie games.

  • Freezeezy Peak (DLC): The background track for the fifth level of Banjo-Kazooie, Freezeezy Peak. Sourced from the original game.
  • Vs. Mr. Patch (DLC): The background track for the boss fight against Mr. Patch, the boss of Witchyworld, in Banjo-Tooie. Sourced from the original game.
  • Vs. Lord Woo Fak Fak (DLC): The background track for the boss fight against Lord Woo Fak Fak, the boss of Jolly Roger's Lagoon, in Banjo-Tooie. Sourced from the original game.

Victory Theme[edit]


Games with elements appearing in the Super Smash Bros. series[edit]

The Banjo-Kazooie universe has games represented throughout the Super Smash Bros. series with a total of 4 games. The latest game represented in this universe is Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, released on November 11, 2008.

Diddy Kong Racing[edit]

  • Playable character:
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Banjo made his debut as a playable racer in this game, and Kazooie is mentioned in the instruction manual. Several design choices seen in this game did not carry to Ultimate, however.


  • Playable character:
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate The designs and proportions of both Banjo and Kazooie are based on their appearances in this game. Kazooie made her physical debut in this title as well.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Many of the duo's voice clips are taken from this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate The duo utilizes several moves from, or inspired by, this game, including Claw Swipe, Rat-a-tat Rap, Beak Barge, Forward Roll, Beak Buster, Egg Firing, Rear Egg, Wonderwing, and Shock Spring Jump. Additionally, the duo summon The Mighty Jinjonator, which appeared in the final battle against Gruntilda in this game, for their Final Smash.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Banjo & Kazooie's down taunt, their entrance animation and one of their victory animations, where they bow twice as Banjo laughs, can be seen in this game whenever they collect all ten Jiggies in a level or open a Note Door.
  • Stage:
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Spiral Mountain first appears in this game, and the lively, largely undamaged appearance of the stage appears to be based on this game's iteration of the Mountain.
  • Stage elements:
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Mumbo Jumbo, Tooty, Bottles, Gruntilda, the Jinjos, Buzzbomb, the Extra Life Trophy and the Empty Honeycomb Piece all make cameos on the Spiral Mountain stage.
  • Spirits:
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Banjo & Kazooie, Mumbo Jumbo, Tooty, Bottles, Gruntilda, the Jinjos, The Mighty Jinjonator, Buzzbomb, and Jiggy appear as spirits.
  • Music:
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate "Main Theme - Banjo-Kazooie": A new faster-paced trap arrangement of the game's title sequence theme.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate "Spiral Mountain": An arrangement of the background track for the opening Spiral Mountain area, composed by the game's original composer, Grant Kirkhope. This track also contains brief excerpts from other songs from this game, such as Gruntilda's Lair, Treasure Trove Cove, Rusty Bucket Bay, and Freezeezy Peak.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate "Mumbo's Mountain": A jazz-inspired remix of the background track for the first level in this game, Mumbo's Mountain.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate "Treasure Trove Cove": A techno remix of the background track for the second level in this game, Treasure Trove Cove.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate "Freezeezy Peak": The background track for the fifth level of this game, Freezeezy Peak. It also includes the wind sound effects. Sourced from this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate "Gobi's Valley": A surf rock remix of the background track for the sixth level in this game, Gobi's Valley. Also contains an extended remix of the Gruntilda's Lair theme, used for the hub world in Banjo-Kazooie.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate "Mad Monster Mansion": A bombastic pop remix of the background track for the seventh level of this game, Mad Monster Mansion.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate "Victory! Banjo & Kazooie": A remix of the track that plays when collecting a Jiggy in this game.


  • Playable character:
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Banjo & Kazooie utilize several moves from, or inspired by, this game, including Beak Bayonet, Breegull Bash, Bill Drill, Twirling Wing Whack, Breegull Blaster, and the Grenade Eggs utilized for the Rear Egg move.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Many of the duo's voice clips are taken from this game, including clips that were re-purposed for moves originating in its predecessor.
  • Spirits:
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Banjo & Kazooie's fighter spirit uses artwork from this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Mumbo Jumbo appears as a spirit using artwork from this game.
  • Music:
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate "Spiral Mountain": This arrangement contains a brief excerpt of the background track for the first level of this game, Mayahem Temple.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate "Vs. Klungo": An orchestrated remix of the background track for the boss fights against Klungo, Gruntilda's minion, in this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate "Vs. Mr. Patch": The background track for the boss fight against Mr. Patch, the boss of Witchyworld, sourced from this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate "Vs. Lord Woo Fak Fak": The background track for the boss fight against Lord Woo Fak Fak, the boss of Jolly Roger's Lagoon, sourced from this game.

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts[edit]

  • Playable character:
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Banjo & Kazooie's up taunt in Ultimate is based on an idle animation from this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Banjo grabs ledges with one hand in Ultimate similar to how he does in Nuts & Bolts, as opposed to doing so with both hands as in Banjo-Tooie.
  • Stage elements:
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Spiral Mountain's physical layout is largely based on its appearance in Nuts & Bolts, with notable examples of this including Banjo's house, the shapes and abundance of trees, and the geometry of the mountain and landscape as a whole. However, unlike its appearance in Nuts & Bolts, the stage's Mountain appears much more lively and largely undamaged, more akin to its original Banjo-Kazooie appearance.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate One of Mumbo Jumbo's animations, in which he removes his eyeballs from his skull and juggles them around, is based on one of his idle animations from this game.


  • Banjo-Kazooie is:
    • The first of two playable character-based universes to have been created outside of Japan and owned by a Western publisher - the series was created in the United Kingdom and is published by Microsoft, an American company and current hardware competitor of Nintendo. Minecraft, also owned and published by Microsoft, is the second universe with this distinction.
    • One of three primary third-party universes with games published by Nintendo worldwide, as Nintendo published the original Nintendo 64 releases of the first two games; the other two being Final Fantasy and Bayonetta.
    • One of two playable universes that debuted on the Nintendo 64, the other being Animal Crossing.
    • The second third-party universe with a playable female character, the first being Bayonetta.
    • The only primary third-party franchise to have never had a game released on a PlayStation console.
  • During Mr. Sakurai Presents "Banjo & Kazooie", Sakurai encouraged viewers to play the Banjo-Kazooie games via Xbox, specifically in Rare Replay on Xbox One. This subsequently sparked a surge of searches in Japan, causing the word "Xbox" to become the #1 trending word on Twitter in Japan during that day.[12]


  1. ^ Rare on Twitter: Not sure if that's news, but the boy hero of Project Dream (pre-Banjo) was called Edson, not Edison.
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b The Definitive List of Unused Fighters in Smash | Source Gaming
  4. ^ PushDustIn on Twitter: In an old Nintendo Dream (from 2002) Sakurai confirmed that Banjo & Kazooie were planned to be a trophy in Melee. However, since Rare is a company in England it became difficult for them to approve the trophies and still have Melee on schedule. Joanna Dark was also mentioned.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Rare Ltd. on Twitter: You asked. We listened. Nintendo were listening too, and we were happy to work with our old friends to make this one a reality. Banjo and Kazooie are coming to Super #SmashBrosUltimate!
  7. ^ Adam Park (2019-06-27). Rare Adventures at E3 2019. Rare. Retrieved on 2019-06-28.
  8. ^ Phil Spencer on Twitter: I think it would be cool if Banjo was in the next SSB DLC. We've worked with Nintendo on Rare IP before, no issues.
  9. ^ Stephen Totilo (2019-06-11). Xbox Boss Phil Spencer Says Banjo In Smash Was An Easy Deal To Make. Kotaku. Retrieved on 2019-06-11.
  10. ^ BK's names in Melee
  11. ^
  12. ^

External links[edit]