Banjo & Kazooie belong in Smash but play rather poorly.

When last Wednesday night during Nintendo Direct it was announced that the Banjo-Kazooie Fighters Pack for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate could be downloaded the same night, I jumped a tiny hole in the air. The jolly bear Banjo and his bird buddy Kazooie couldn’t be missing from Nintendo’s big crossover fighting game and now they have finally arrived! The logical next questions were: how does the character play? Can he punch a little bit? And will eSporters flock to Banjo in tournaments?

It didn’t take long before big names like Armada and ZeRo threw their first impressions online and luckily Banjo didn’t cause as much controversy as the Dragon Quest Hero, which was quickly banned from major tournaments. Unfortunately, after half a week of playing, I have to conclude that Banjo and Kazooie are not the best Smash character. In fact, if you take the moves, they are currently quite mediocre. With the exception of two attacks, the character hardly breaks any pots, let alone against opponents like Mewtwo, Falco or Pokémon Trainer.

The two attacks with kill potential (the fire charge to the left and right and the grenade) both have disadvantages. The charge (side-B) does a lot of damage and takes priority over most attacks, but it can only be used five times, relatively easy to block and punish. You can also interrupt the charge with a well-timed grab attack.

Banjo & Kazooie belong in Smash but play rather poorly

The grenade (down-B) also does a lot of damage, but at first glance it seems a bit difficult to use. Banjo defecates the grenade, after which you can pick up the projectile and hurl it towards your opponent. This move is reminiscent of Snake’s grenade or Samus and Link’s bombs, but a big disadvantage is that Banjo’s explosive object detonates quite quickly. You almost always have to use the fast-fall input to pick up the grenade and immediately throw it at your opponent, but with some practice this move can just work.

The other moves of Banjo and Kazooie are hardly worth mentioning. Its projectiles barely deal damage, grab attacks have almost no kill potential at high percentages, and Banjo’s grabs are not (true) combo starters. In the air, their neutral melee attacks (with the exception of neutral-A) don’t seem to have the most favorable hitboxes. In terms of recovery, Banjo has a nice move (up-B) and unlike most characters, Banjo still has a normal jump left after his recovery move. The charge also offers options to return to the stage, but you will lose one of your five tries.

Banjo & Kazooie belong in Smash but play rather poorly

I think there will definitely be some competitive players who can make Banjo work in tournaments eventually, but for now the competitive Smash scene will mostly ignore Banjo, which is understandable. Maybe Banjo will change a bit when Nintendo poops out another patch that brings certain nerfs and buffs, but until then I think we should continue to enjoy the fact that this iconic character is finally here.

The fact that Nintendo is already coming with Terry Bogard in November and that there is just a new series of Fighters Packs to come is something I can only praise. I would love to see Professor Layton, Waluigi, Shantae, Doomguy and Geralt of Rivia coming to Smash Ultimate!

Banjo & Kazooie belong in Smash but play rather poorly