One of the highlights of last year’s E3 Nintendo Direct was the surprise Jiggy bouncing across Donkey Kong’s hut, kicking off Banjo and Kazooie’s unlikely, long-awaited reveal in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Even with some prior friendliness between Nintendo and Microsoft, Microsoft’s explicit willingness to put Banjo in Super Smash Bros., and heavily popularized leaks, it never seemed likely to happen, until, of course, it did.
In a recent interview with Gamesindustry.biz, Craig Duncan (the studio head at Rare) discussed the team-up that led to Banjo in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, crediting Minecraft as the jump start to the relationship between the two companies.
Minecraft had paved the way for that relationship between Nintendo and Microsoft. I met with Nintendo at the E3 before we announced it. And then we connected our teams, because we thought it seemed like a great opportunity.
Evidently, discussion on Banjo coming to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate began around a year prior to his actual reveal, and six months before the game even came out. After the initial meeting, the two teams spent a year planning out Banjo’s triumphant Super Smash Bros. debut.
We had an initial kick off call with Sakurai-san and some of his team. There was myself, Gregg Mayles… who is the father of Banjo, even though he hates it when we call him that. Andrew Wensley, who runs our business team. And a chap called Paul Cunningham, who runs our partnerships. Those people had a conversation, [Nintendo] talked through what their approach would be, and then that process started.
And then a year goes by of sharing animatics and ideas and character concepts. It was a back-and-forth. We ended up with something that was really great. But the execution came from the [Super Smash Bros.] team.
Hopefully, the hype behind Banjo in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate can eventually parlay into a new game, a more developed partnership between Microsoft and Nintendo, or something of a future beyond fan-made mods for the legendary bear and bird.