Saturday’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate World Championship ended with a bang. Japan dominated against Europe in the finals, Nintendo of America President Doug Bowser announced an Online Open with the winners going to EVO 2019, and Masahiro Sakurai made a video appearance to congratulate the winners. Additionally, the Smash Bros. director revealed that Nintendo will indeed introduce the next DLC fighter for the game real soon, at the E3 2019 Direct this coming Tuesday.

With that, community speculation is once again reaching fever pitch regarding the next mysterious newcomer. Now, Persona 5‘s Joker may have set community expectations a little too high. It can’t be denied that the leader of the Phantom Thieves of Hearts is a hell of a way to start as the first of five downloadable characters from the Fighters Pass. However, combine Smash excitement with E3 season, and this next showstopper might top Joker himself.

The possibilities are many, but if I had to pick one character I feel is the most likely for the E3 Direct? In that case, I would probably pick two.

Reunited, and it feels so good…

Full disclosure: as a GameCube kid, I did not grow up with the Banjo-Kazooie series. I have no personal attachment to the famous bear and bird duo that redefined the Collectathon genre for many others on the Nintendo 64. However, I feel that their inclusion in the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster — unlikely as it was for previous games — is more possible now than ever, thanks to the current collaborative atmosphere in the gaming industry.

Phil Spencer did not make his support for the idea of Banjo and Kazooie in Smash Bros. a secret. On Twitter, the head of Xbox approved of it back in 2015 for that iteration of Smash, and again last year post-Ultimate teaser. Additionally, Microsoft and Nintendo are working closer together like never before. Cuphead marks the first Xbox exclusive ported onto Nintendo hardware, and potentially the first of many if certains rumors are to be believed. Microsoft is even bringing Xbox Live services to the Switch and, supposedly, partnering with Nintendo on cloud streaming tech.

Add these with Exquisite Gaming teasing new Banjo-Kazooie merch, and the signs all but point directly at Rare’s beloved pair joining the brawl. It would be a hell of a memorable way to end Nintendo’s E3 Direct!

…or not

banjo

However, while the odds have never been more favorable for Banjo and Kazooie, it’s still no guarantee.

This is where you need to be for #XboxE3,” Xbox tweeted, pointing out this week’s upcoming Nintendo Direct for good measure. This means that Xbox content will almost certainly appear in Nintendo’s upcoming livestream in some form. As a Microsoft-owned property, Banjo and Kazooie could make their long-awaited return under the gaming spotlight as new Smash fighters. Alternatively, the Direct could also highlight Xbox Live, multiplatform/indie games, or other high profile Xbox exclusives coming to the Switch.

Regrettably, Banjo was also a total no-show during yesterday’s Xbox E3 2019 Briefing. While relevancy is not a deciding factor for a Smash Bros. potential, Microsoft’s own lack of focus on the property does not bode well on that front.

Finally, there are still so many other viable characters that can become fighters. Among third party all-stars, Erdrick from Dragon Quest was long speculated as another hopeful. Then there are potential tie-in characters with Nintendo’s upcoming titles, like, say, the axe-wielding Edelgard from Fire Emblem: Three Houses (you know I’m right!). Heck, even within Microsoft, Banjo faces competition from Minecraft‘s Steve and (perplexingly) Halo‘s Master Chief.

Banjo verdict: An uphill battle

Point being, even with Microsoft and Nintendo’s recently growing relationship, the bear and bird still face a number of obstacles before dreams become reality. The wait is almost over for Fighter #2, though, so only time will tell as to who our next approaching challenger is.

One thing is for certain. Should the prophesied day finally come, brace yourselves for Banjo fans heralding the return of this Nintendo 64 icon with this classic anthem:

But enough about my speculation, we want to hear from you now! Thinking rationally, who do you think Nintendo will announce as the next Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fighter? Or, if you’d rather let your imagination run wild, who do you want for Fighter #2? Share your thoughts and wild theories with us in the comments.

Jeffrey McDonell
Rare import from Canada, lover of all things video game music and remixes, desk jockey by day, and Nintendo Enthusiast by night. I grew up on Nintendo consoles since the Game Boy Advance and GameCube, with standouts like Sonic, Mario, and Zelda defining my childhood.

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