After months of anticipation, Banjo and Kazooie have joined the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster. The dual protagonists of the 1998 Banjo-Kazooie platform game became available for download immediately after Nintendo’s Wednesday night Direct.
The character addition riled up the Smash Bros. community. The reveal that the fourth DLC fighter would be Terry Bogard from SNK’s Fatal Fury series and Nintendo’s plans to add more DLC fighters after the originally-planned five also took that hype to new heights.
For now, Nintendo has given fans access to Banjo-Kazooie after releasing a game-wide update (version 5.0.0). Less than a day after their launch, some of the most seasoned Smash Bros. pros have already taken the duo out for a spin.
While it’s still extremely early to definitively rank Banjo-Kazooie among broader Smash Bros. Ultimate tier lists, some of the game’s biggest personalities are optimistic about the character’s potential. At a glance, their special moves (B-Button Moves) can deal massive damage, be used to start combos, and help recover from off-stage.
If mastered Banjo-Kazooie can overwhelm their opponents, which meansSmash Bros. Ultimate could have another high-mid to high-tier character in its ranks.
ZeRo: “I think Banjo is good”
Considered the “best Smash 4 player of all time” Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios told his 265,700 Twitter followers that Banjo-Kazooie’s abilities could be devastating if used wisely. He has yet to post an in-depth character review, but he talked up his “Rear Egg” (Down Special) and “Wonderwing” (Side Special) abilities.
“[In] a nutshell, he’s got a great recovery that is boosted by his grenade,” tweeted ZeRo. “The grenade is an excellent neutral, ledge trap and combo tool. His side-B is busted if you don’t mash it on neutral too.”
Rear Egg drops a football-shaped grenade from Banjo-Kazooie’s backpack, which can be picked up and thrown. Players can toss these at enemies to create an opening or let them explode in their hands to extend their recovery, sort of like Link’s remote bomb or Snake’s grenades.
Meanwhile, Wonderwing is an incredibly powerful shoulder charge that moves Banjo-Kazooie horizontally, deals huge damage, but it can only be used five times per stock. It can K/O opponents as early as 90%-100% and can beat some of the most powerful moves in Smash Ultimate.
But if shielded, the move leaves Banjo-Kazooie extremely vulnerable. ZeRO called the ability “broken” in his first impressions video, but backtracked when he saw its weakness.
“It looks good as a recovery tool but it looks super easy to punish,” he said. So choose when you’re going to use the ability wisely.
Leffen: “Banjo Bomb and side-B Are super fucking stupid.”
One of the top Super Smash Bros. Melee players, William “Leffen” Hjelte, agrees that Banjo-Kazooie’s Rear Bomb and Wonderwing are the new fighter’s defining moves. He showed his 267,500 Twitter followers and Twitch viewers just what the combination is capable of Wednesday night.
He demonstrated how Rear Bomb can be used to pop opponents up in the air, which can then be followed-up with a Wonderwing to K/O at obscenely low percents if the enemy is off stage. He managed to slam a Falco into the blast zone at 51% on stream.
Aside from Banjo-Kazooie’s heavy-hitting potential, Leffen also discovered that Rear Bomb can also be used to greatly improve their recovery. By letting the grenade explode in Banjo’s hands Leffen can continuously use the character’s Up-B to propel himself upwards.
Any character that can indefinitely extend their recovery options on their own are already a cut above a lot of the cast. But other competitors aren’t convinced.
Dabuz: “Banjo seems…good? Not great?”
Samuel “Dabuz” Buzby, considered one of the best Smash Ultimate players in the world, agrees with ZeRo and Leffen’s assessments of Banjo-Kaoozie’s Rear Bomb and Wonderwing, but he isn’t keen on the rest of their move set.
“I’m having a lot of trouble getting over his poor double jump and generally lacking aerials expect up air,” he tweeted. “Recovery mixups, ledge mixups, and landing tools are amazing, and side-b is really strong. He might be a patient character, not a masher.”
Banjo-Kaoozie might best be played as a set-up character, like Pac-Man or Duckhunt, that relies on getting opponents right where they want them to secure the K/O.
Like Leffen demonstrated, his most powerful combos require some choreographing to pull off. It might be best to wait and punish opponents with Banjo-Kaoozie rather than go in swinging.
So while Banjo-Kazooie didn’t impress pros as much as Joker did in April, many of the Smash Bros. Ultimate’s best players agree that the dynamic duo has the tools to be a threat in competitive play.
All of the Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC fighters can be purchased with either the $24.99 Fighter Pass or individually for $5.99 upon their release.