Writing in his regular Japanese Famitsu magazine column (translated by PushDustIn), Sakurai explained that Banjo and Kazooie were very highly requested by fans in the West. “Even after King K. Rool and Ridley, requests were still coming in,” he said.
However, the game director stated that it was difficult for them to join Smash due to the complexity of their IP ownership.
“In the early 2000s, Rare was sold to Microsoft, and Banjo’s games came out on the Xbox 360. Microsoft and Nintendo are rivals in the console space. It’s usually thought that you shouldn’t help our your rivals. However, this time [we] were able to get the character quite easily.”
Sakurai’s comments echo those recently made by Xbox head Phil Spencer, who claimed Microsoft has “always been open” to putting Banjo and Kazooie in Smash Bros.
In the Famitsu column, Sakurai thanked developer Rare for its assistance too. “Thanks to them, [I] was able to satisfy many fans’ requests,” he wrote.
On the subject of Dragon Quest, Sakurai said he initially felt nervous about including such a “legendary series” in Smash Bros. He decided that Hero’s Final Smash would feature past characters from Dragon Quest to showcase the series.
Sakurai has previously spoken of his satisfaction with the result of Grant Kirkhope’s Smash Bros. music.