Sakurai says securing Banjo-Kazooie for Smash Bros was ‘quite easy’

Thanks to Rare, game director says he was “able to satisfy many fans’ requests”

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate director Masahiro Sakurai has explained how Banjo-Kazooie and Dragon Quest’s Hero ended up in the Nintendo fighter.

During the Nintendo Direct E3 livestream earlier this month, it was revealed that the two new fighters will be added to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as DLC later this year.

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.

“While Banjo and Kazooie was originally an N64 game, and their inclusion should’ve been a natural one, they are now owned by Microsoft,” he wrote.

“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.

In an interview with VGC, Banjo-Kazooie composer Grant Kirkhope – who supplied a music track for the Smash Bros. DLC – revealed that Rare was likely involved in negotiations late last year.

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 his collaboration with Kirkhope, the first Western composer on the series.