Banjo-Kazooie (universe)

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Banjo-Kazooie (universe)
Banjo Kazooie logo.png

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 the most popular and recognizable titles Rare has ever developed, next to the original Donkey Kong Country series. Once 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 human boy named Edison and his dog companion Dinger 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 the upcoming Nintendo 64 console.

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 Edison 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 in Diddy Kong Racing in November 1997.

Banjo-Kazooie was initially released in June 1998 to strong sales and critical acclaim, with praise to its detailed graphics, dynamic soundtrack, and improvements over the foundation laid by Super Mario 64. 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 mascots for 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. It was removed at the last minute both at Nintendo's behest and due to newer N64 models making it infeasible.

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 Mario and Link, 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: Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge, a "midquel" with a time-travel plot that takes place between the two N64 games, and Banjo-Pilot, an airplane-based racing game retooled from a Diddy Kong Racing sequel following the 2002 acquisition.

Official artwork of Banjo and Kazooie from Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts.

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, and a game focusing more directly on the duo's rivalry with Gruntilda wherein they would compete in a series of rapid-fire challenges. None of these ideas came to fruition; instead the team landed on the concept of 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 character designs were also tweaked, becoming 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 shifted focus back to its 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 features all three home console installments in the Banjo-Kazooie series, including achievements, developer interviews, and remixed challenges. 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.

Banjo & Kazooie were a particularly popular character request 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 eighth, above characters such as Marth and Meta Knight.[1] 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".[2] The duo were meant to cameo as a trophy, but had to be cut for similar reasons.[3]

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 kept coming in even after the additions of other highly requested characters like Ridley and King K. Rool.[4] The developers at Rare were aware of the long-running demand and, spearheaded by artist Paul Cunningham, worked closely with Nintendo in developing Banjo & Kazooie for Ultimate, including their designs, moveset, and music selections.[5][6] 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[7]), and doing so as part of Ultimate's Fighters Pass was an "easy deal to make" due to Microsoft's strong third-party relationship with Nintendo leading up to their reveal.[8]

In Super Smash Bros.[edit]

Banjo and Kazooie make no appearance in Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64, but appeared on a poll held on the official website regarding a potential sequel, ranking eighth place out of 20.[1]

In Super Smash Bros. Melee[edit]

Based on responses from fan questions confirming that Banjo would not be appearing in Super Smash Bros. Melee,[2] a popular rumor of Banjo being cut from the game manifested, claiming that Banjo (along with James Bond from GoldenEye 007[9]) was 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. 4[edit]

While the exact figures are unknown, Banjo & Kazooie were strong contenders in the Super Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot, particularly after Xbox head Phil Spencer stated he would not mind seeing the duo appear in Smash. This was particularly due to the time frame of the Fighter Ballot being somewhat of a renaissance for Rare titles, both within and outside of the company. The duo also received 4.9% of the votes in an unofficial Japanese ballot.[10]

In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate[edit]

The flagship franchise of Rare makes its long-requested Super Smash Bros. debut as the third DLC franchise in the Fighters Pass, being officially announced in the E3 2019 Nintendo Direct alongside the Hero from the Dragon Quest series. In addition to one new fighter, the 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: The easy-going honey bear and his snarky breegull sidekick debut together as the third newcomer from the Fighters Pass. Like Duck Hunt, Banjo & Kazooie work in tandem for their attacks as a single unit, utilizing abilities taken from their Nintendo 64 outings such as Breegull Bash, Egg Firing, and Wonderwing and even summoning The Mighty Jinjonator for their Final Smash. They were released alongside Spiral Mountain and its 10 music tracks on September 4th, 2019 as part of Challenger Pack 3.


  • SSBU-Spiral Mountain.jpg
    Spiral Mountain: A stage based on Banjo & Kazooie's homeland, which has appeared in every Banjo-Kazooie title thus far. In the background, Banjo's one-game sister Tooty, the nearsighted but smart mole Bottles, the crazy magic shaman Mumbo Jumbo, and the rhyming witch villain Gruntilda will cameo, in addition to the recurring dragonfly-like enemies Buzzbombs and the collectible Jinjos. The main spiral structure 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": 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": 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. It was arranged by Grant Kirkhope, longtime composer of the Banjo-Kazooie series.
  • "Mumbo's Mountain": A jazz-inspired remix of the background track for the first level in Banjo-Kazooie, Mumbo's Mountain. Arranged by Hiroki Hashimoto.
  • "Treasure Trove Cove": A techno remix of the background track for the second level in Banjo-Kazooie, Treasure Trove Cove. Arranged by Yoko Shimomura.
  • "Gobi's Valley": 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 Gruntilda's Lair theme. Arranged by Yuji Masubuchi.
  • "Mad Monster Mansion": A bombastic pop remix of the background track for the seventh level of Banjo-Kazooie, Mad Monster Mansion. Arranged by Michiko Naruke.
  • "Vs. Klungo": An orchestrated remix of the boss theme when fighting Klungo, Gruntilda's minion, in Banjo-Tooie. Arranged by Hideki Sakamoto.

Source Tracks[edit]

Tracks sourced directly from the Banjo-Kazooie games.

  • "Freezeezy Peak": The background track for the fifth level of Banjo-Kazooie, Freezeezy Peak. Sourced from the original game.
  • "Vs. Mr. Patch": 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": 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 Fanfare[edit]

  • "Victory! Banjo & Kazooie": A remix of the theme that plays when collecting a Jiggy in Banjo-Kazooie.


1,337. Banjo & Kazooie
1,338. Tooty
1,339. Bottles
1,340. Mumbo Jumbo
1,341. Jinjos
1,342. The Mighty Jinjonator
1,343. Jiggy
1,344. Gruntilda
1,345. Buzzbomb

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


  • Playable Characters:
    • Super Smash Bros. UltimateKazooie made her debut in this game. This marked her first game co-starring with Banjo (who previously debuted in Diddy Kong Racing).
    • Super Smash Bros. UltimateMost of the duo's voice clips are sourced from this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. UltimateThe duo utilizes several moves from this game, including Claw Swipe, Rat-a-tat Rap, Beak Barge, Forward Roll, Beak Buster, Egg Firing, Wonderwing, and Shock Spring Jump. Finally, the duo summon The Mighty Jinjonator, who appeared in the final battle against Gruntilda in this game, for their Final Smash.
    • Super Smash Bros. UltimateBanjo & Kazooie's down taunt and one of their victory animations, where they bow twice while laughing, originates from this game whenever they collect all ten Jiggies in a level or open a note door.
  • Stages:
  • Stage Elements:
    • Super Smash Bros. UltimateMumbo Jumbo, Tooty, Bottles, Gruntilda, the Jinjos and the Buzzbomb all make cameos on the Spiral Mountain stage.
  • Spirits:
    • Super Smash Bros. UltimateBanjo & 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 elements from other Banjo-Kazooie songs, 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 Banjo-Kazooie, Mumbo's Mountain.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate"Treasure Trove Cove": A techno remix of the background track for the second level in Banjo-Kazooie, Treasure Trove Cove.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate"Gobi's Valley": 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 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 Banjo-Kazooie, Mad Monster Mansion.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate"Victory! Banjo & Kazooie": A remix of the track that plays when collecting a Jiggy in Banjo-Kazooie.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate"Freezeezy Peak": The background track for the fifth level of Banjo-Kazooie, Freezeezy Peak. Sourced from the original game.


  • Playable Characters:
    • Super Smash Bros. UltimateSome of Banjo & Kazooie's attacks in Ultimate are taken from this game, such as Beak Bayonet, Breegull Bash, Bill Drill, Twirling Wing Whack, Breegull Blaster, and Rear Egg.
  • Spirits:
    • Super Smash Bros. UltimateBanjo & Kazooie's Fighter Spirit uses artwork from this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. UltimateMumbo Jumbo appears as a Spirit using artwork from this game.
  • Music:
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate"Vs. Klungo": An orchestrated remix of the boss theme when fighting Klungo, Gruntilda's minion, in Banjo-Tooie.
    • Super Smash Bros. UltimateThe "Spiral Mountain" arrangement contains a brief excerpt of the background track for the first level of Banjo-Tooie, Mayahem Temple.
    • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate"Vs. Mr. Patch": The background track for the boss fight against Mr. Patch, the boss of Witchyworld, in Banjo-Tooie. Sourced from the original 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, in Banjo-Tooie. Sourced from the original game.

Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge[edit]

  • Playable Characters:
    • Super Smash Bros. UltimateThe way the Shock Spring Jump is executed in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, with Banjo jumping off of the Shock Spring Pad from a standstill, resembles how it is performed in this Game Boy Advance interquel.

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts[edit]

  • Playable Characters:
    • Super Smash Bros. UltimateBanjo & Kazooie's up taunt in Ultimate is based on an idle animation from this game.
    • Super Smash Bros. UltimateA few of Banjo & Kazooie's voice clips in Ultimate are sourced from this game.
  • Stage Elements:
    • Super Smash Bros. UltimateSpiral Mountain takes some cues from its appearance in Nuts & Bolts, such as the design of Banjo's house.
    • Super Smash Bros. UltimateOne of Mumbo Jumbo's animations, which has him removing his eyeballs from his skull and juggling them around, is based on one of his idle animations from this game.


  • During the Banjo & Kazooie presentation video, Masahiro Sakurai encouraged viewers to play the original Banjo-Kazooie game through Xbox, specifically through Rare Replay for 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.[11]
  • Banjo-Kazooie is the first third-party universe, and the first character-based universe overall, to consist solely of a playable character that originated outside of Japan.
    • Additionally, it is also the first character-based universe to be created outside of Japan, being created in the United Kingdom. Finally it is the only third-party universe to be owned by a Western publisher.
  • Banjo-Kazooie is one of four primary third-party universes with games published by Nintendo worldwide, as Nintendo published the Nintendo 64 versions of both the first installment and Banjo-Tooie; the other three are Final Fantasy, and Bayonetta.
  • Banjo-Kazooie and Animal Crossing are the only playable universes that debuted on the Nintendo 64.
  • Banjo-Kazooie is the first third-party universe to belong to a current hardware competitor of Nintendo, in this case Microsoft; however, Rare was once a second-party subsidiary of Nintendo, and Banjo debuted in the Donkey Kong franchise via technicalities.
  • Banjo-Kazooie is the second third-party universe with a playable female character, the first being Bayonetta.
  • Banjo-Kazooie is the fifth third-party universe to debut on a Nintendo console, and the only one to debut on a Nintendo console other than the NES (being the Nintendo 64). The others, which all debuted on the NES, are Mega Man, Final Fantasy, Castlevania, and Dragon Quest.
  • Despite being owned by Microsoft, Banjo-Kazooie did not debut on a Microsoft platform. Coincidentally, the Metal Gear and Bayonetta universes did debut on Microsoft platforms, specifically the MSX2 and Xbox 360 respectively.
  • Banjo-Kazooie is the first DLC universe in Ultimate to lack any related Mii Fighter DLC costumes in the corresponding wave.


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b The Definitive List of Unused Fighters in Smash | Source Gaming
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^
  5. ^ 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!
  6. ^ Adam Park (2019-06-27). Rare Adventures at E3 2019. Rare. Retrieved on 2019-06-28.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^