What Do Japanese Fans Think of Banjo-Kazooie in Smash Bros.?

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Banjo-Kazooie joins the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster
During the Nintendo Direct for E3 2019, two new DLC characters were announced for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, one of which was Banjo-Kazooie from the Banjo-Kazooie series.

Banjo-Kazooie was developed by Rare, a company based in England, and debuted on the Nintendo 64 in 1998. Microsoft took ownership of the series later on and even released an Xbox 360-exclusive game in the series.

Given this mostly Western background, the recent Super Smash Bros. announcement left Western fans wondering “was Banjo-Kazooie even popular in Japan?” and “do Japanese gamers even know who these characters are?”.

Naturally, there were also a lot of questions about how Japanese fans reacted to Banjo-Kazooie’s surprise announcement. So let’s take a look!

Rare Games in Japan

The first question is: was Banjo-Kazooie even popular in Japan?

I didn’t live in Japan at the time so I don’t have personal experience to draw from, but in general I hear that Banjo-Kazooie and other Rare games were well-received there.

I don’t think these games were megaton mega-hits like they were elsewhere in the world, but it sounds like they were definitely a solid part of the Japanese Nintendo 64 experience back in the day. At the very least, Banjo-Kazooie did well enough to have its sequel released in Japan too.

Before Reading

I’ve translated a bunch of Japanese reactions below, from a variety of sources, including Twitter, this article, this article, this reaction video, and this other reaction video. In fact, both of those videos having amusing Japanese reactions – here’s the second one:

Anyway, as always, keep in mind that these are just random comments I’ve chosen and that there are so few listed here that they shouldn’t be considered representative of all Japanese gamers. That would be silly. This is only meant to satisfy readers’ curiosity.

Japanese Reactions

I got so excited about Banjo-Kazooie that I cried! Now I gotta go buy me a Switch!!

Sakurai is really kindhearted. He listens too much to what players say. He clearly listened to the foreign audience with Banjo and stuff.

I might have to buy a Switch for Banjo and Kazooie lol

I seriously cried at Banjo-Kazooie

I never played Banjo but I did hear the bird felt really heavy to hold, so I laughed when I saw that the bird really does look heavy in the promo video.

I only remember Banjo-Kazooie from the old commercial, which had Banjo punching in time to someone singing “Banjo! Kazooie!”.

I believe this is that commercial, incidentally:

I wonder if there’ll be a remake of Banjo and Kazooie

Coming from the N64 generation, having Banjo-Kazooie is so great. I was overjoyed when he did the peace sign. Please do a remake too.

I never knew Microsoft owned the rights to Banjo-Kazooie until now

I don’t know much about Banjo, but they were made by Rare who did Donkey Kong, right?

Now there’s a third monkey in the game.

I’m so happy about Banjo-Kazooie!

The sound effect when Diddy wakes up K. Rool sounded so much like the balloons in Diddy Kong Racing that I cried

OK, so Sans announcement this winter (yeah right just kidding not gonna happen)

Holy crap!!! Banjo and Kazooie!!!

I remember playing Banjo-Kazooie a tiny bit a long time ago

Dunno who Dungeon and Kazui are but I can tell they’re good from how excited everyone is lol

I haven’t seen Banjo-Kazooie since the commercials. It sure takes me back. I can’t wait to see them in action!

I can’t way to play as them!

Banjo-Kazooie? I have no idea who they are. Who are they?

I was very surprised when I learned Banjo-Kazooie was joining the roster. It might be my favorite game for the N64.

I totally loved Banjo and Kazooie, so much so that I might actually buy this lol

The Banjo-Kazooie announcement felt so shocking and miraculous and moving and like a dream come true that I felt like I was gonna lose my mind.

Wow! I should play their game before they’re released!

I hope there’ll be a Banjo-Kazooie game

I go to bed and wake up shocked by the news that Banjo-Kazooie’s in Smash too

I’m happy with Square’s long-awaited Dragon Quest representation, but Rare’s Banjo-Kazooie addition makes me many times happier. I can’t believe we can finally see Donkey Kong and Banjo-Kazooie together at last!

DQ Hero announced!
Foreigners: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!

Banjo announced!
Foreigners: Whoooooooooa!!

What a joke. They should add characters from Splatoon, not these characters nobody knows!

They should really release Banjo-Kazooie on the Virtual Console or something. I’d like to play it again after all this time…

I cried

I’m so happy Banjo-Kazooie are in the game!

Banjo-Kazooie!

Yes! Banjo and Kazooie!!

Banjo-Kazooie, whoa!

I had lost all hope for Banjo-Kazooie, so I’m so happy that they made it in!

I can’t believe Banjo and Kazooie are in now. I was in early grade school when the N64 Banjo-Kazooie came out, so I remember them. But I’ll probably wait to get them via amiibo rather than downloading their DLC and Joker’s DLC.

I never imagined for a minute that Banjo would ever make it in, so I’m filled with shock, excitement, and anticipation. Oh, I can’t wait!

They didn’t add Sans from Undertale, but they did add the Hero from Dragon Quest and Banjo-Kazooie! So it was still great!

I had the same reaction. When that jigsaw puzzle piece came flying by, I literally teared up.

Banjo-Kazooie were announced for Smash, but I really want to play a Banjo-Kazooie game! I know there are various issues, but I’d love to at least play a remake!

Banjo-Kazooie really takes me back

I’m so happy Banjo and the Hero are in Smash! I always wanted to play as Banjo!

Banjo-Kazooie brings back so many memories! I played the N64 game when I was in grade school~

Donkey Kong’s reaction is probably pretty much the same way foreigners reacted I bet

Now we just need Geno!! Please, give us Geno!!

Japanese people have no interest in Banjo-Kazooie, and foreigners have no interest in Dragon Quest. So it’s a win-win.

I’m very happy about the Banjo-Kazooie announcement

I would’ve preferred them to add Yangus, Angelo, or Jessica from Dragon Quest 8 instead of Banjo-Kazooie

Banjo for the foreigners, Dragon Quest for the Japanese. It’s a pretty good balance, I’d say.

I played Banjo-Kazooie 1 and 2, so I’m really happy. Also, I checked and Banjo-Kazooie was apparently released 21 years ago, on Dec. 6, 1998. I was a kindergartener at the time.

When I try to remember Banjo-Kazooie, Crash Bandicoot keeps coming to mind instead

As one born in this modern age, I’ve not heard of Banjo and Kazooie before… but I am genuinely delighted with retro characters such as these being added. Learning about characters you never knew before is fun, also.

Banjo and Kazooie, yes!

I saw a lot of (Japanese) tweets saying “who?” so I’m glad to see a reaction like this

To be honest, I’m way more excited for Banjo-Kazooie than the Dragon Quest character

I never thought Banjo-Kazooie would be in Smash

I’ve never played Banjo and Kazooie, but I remember watching my friend play it at their house lol I never thought I’d feel nostalgic for it like this

Banjo? Hero? Forget them, just make Takeshi [note: Brock in English] playable already!

I got so excited when they re-created the final scene from Banjo-Kazooie 1.

I never thought it was possible, and they never got announced before, but now my childhood dream has come true. The moment I saw this, I laughed and cried lol

Seriously, please add Geno

I think I’ll probably only ever use Banjo from now on

Feels like the Hero is for Japanese, and Banjo-Kazooie is for foreigners

Me, when Microsoft bought Rare: “Banjo…! Kazooie…!”

Me, when Banjo-Kazooie was announced for Smash: Banjo! Kazooie! You’re alive!

Final Thoughts

Everywhere I looked, I saw positive Japanese comments about Banjo-Kazooie’s addition to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. There were some occasional “who?” comments, and some occasional negative comments. But I get the feeling Banjo-Kazooie is going to be a popular character choice among Japanese Super Smash Bros. fans.

Again, this is a pretty small sample size of reactions, but hopefully it’s been interesting or enlightening in some small part!


If you liked this article, you'll like this one about Japanese fan reactions to Metroid: Other M, or what Japanese fans think of that Sonic movie trailer. You can also see all my reaction articles here!

24 Comments
  1. I enjoyed the back and forth over Banjo Kazooie vs. DQ Hero. It would be funny if that ended up being the perennial matchup.

    Reply
  2. When someone said “make Brock playable”, did they mean as in Takeshi from Pokémon? Or is there a character who’s known as Brock in Japan and if so what series?

    Reply
    1. Yeah, they originally said Takeshi, I localized it into Brock here. I guess I should probably edit it with a note to avoid confusion.

      Reply
  3. It’s kind of remarkable how closely this mirrors reactions over here.

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  4. “Now there’s a third monkey in the game”

    Did this person skip biology class?

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    1. All brown Rare characters are monkeys

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  5. Those two sans comments made My day.
    Also, nice that there’s not nearly as much negativity, though perhaps a slight part in that is due to getting Dragon quest, but I feel like I see more respect for Banjo than the West has for DQ. Seeing the people who are happy just warms my heart, regardless of country of origin.

    Reply
    1. Reading the Sans comments after the September Direct is funny probably.

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  6. No joke, I’ve been waiting for this article since the reveal!

    It was always my understanding that Banjo had a pretty dedicated/sizeable fanbase in Japan, even if the games aren’t as iconic of the N64 era as they are here. I’ve certainly seen a lot of Japanese fanart of them, at any rate.

    Either way, it really does feel like we got the best of both worlds with these reveals–a long-beloved Japanese franchise and a long-beloved Western franchise both got some representatives in Smash.

    I didn’t know the Geno-in-Smash obsessiveness was a thing in Japan, too, though… I’ll be honest, I don’t “get” it. I don’t really see why Geno would be more worthy or popular than any other Mario RPG character. Why not Prince Peasely or Goombario or Starlow or Vivian or, heck, even Mallow, for that matter?

    Reply
    1. I unironically want Mallow more, but I don’t really get Super Mario RPG in general.

      Paper Mario or retooling Mario, Luigi or Bowser into using their RPG moves would be nice, though.

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      1. Poor Mallow keeps getting overshadowed and I love that character more than Geno. Mallow gets a nice character arc from this scared crybaby to a confident person ready to take on his responsibilities.

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  7. Even in Japan people ask for Geno lol

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  8. I may not be from Japan, but i personally was way more excited over the Dragon Quest reveal than for Banjo. That’s not to say that Banjo-Kazooie isn’t an awesome inclusion, but i just feel much more strongly for Dragon Quest.

    Reply
  9. Did that one Japanese comment actually say “Dungeon and Kazui”?
    Now I’m thinking of Grandpa Simpson “I wrote the Iggy!”

    Reply
    1. Yeah, it was something like ダンジョンとかズイ

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    2. Haha! I was thinking of a DIFFERENT Simpsons quote! “That’s the best Ippy and Bippy I’ve ever seen!”

      Reply
  10. I was waiting for this article! 😀

    Glad to see that Japan’s excited for Banjo as well.

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  11. It seems like Japanese fans are completely unaware of the Microsoft connection.

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  12. Hey Clyde,
    Not so much a Banjo question as a suggestion for something interesting to look at.
    With the Granblue Fantasy fighting game being released in the West, we’re starting to see more attention towards the original game and its translations.

    There’s a lot of strange localisation and translation stuff in this game and series, not all of which have a discernible reason. As a translator, you might find this interesting due to the multiple stages this game has gone through
    * No English translation available
    * (Rumoured as) Google Translate based version
    * Multiple successive localisation companies, creating weird sort of ‘archeological layers’ of translation. Old content uses old translations, even if they’re kinda gibberish, and they sit side-by-side with new translation content.

    The game is also fully voiced for the most part, so when things get changed they are super obvious. You can also switch to Japanese text at any time using the same account.

    Some of the translation weirdness includes
    * Random, unexplained name changes. Name changes are not applied to everyone, and there doesn’t seem to be a set of rules for them. For example, one of the very first characters you meet is named Vii, but is renamed Vryn. The Eternals endgame set of characters are all renamed, and so are some of the primal beasts you meet. “Chevalier” becomes “Luminera”. “Godguard Brodia” being renamed to “Godsworn Alexiel” etc.
    * Speaking of the primal beasts, the name seems to have been a mistake, given their heavy lore association with the stars. I’d translate them as ‘starbeast’ or something similar, but how would you handle it?
    * Apparent reluctance to directly say “kill” in many places. Eg, in one scene in a side story you can hear a woman *screaming* that she’s going to kill you, but the translation puts it as “take you down”. Nearly every use of 殺す is softened in some way.
    * Gender/sex politics stuff. For example, one of the characters you can get named “Fatista” is a combination of something like a huge buff wrestler and a okama type. In the translation they are referred to as “she” and the girlish manner of speaking is taken out (even though another character directly references it and starts a fight over it!).

    I’d love to hear your take on some of these.
    For example, I’d love to hear how you would handle Farrah’s unusual speech pattern, which I can’t think of an English equivalent of.

    Reply
  13. I’m surprised there isn’t any mention of the resurgence of “那覇☆” in tweets and comments. For those who are unfamiliar, 那覇☆ (Naha☆) is basically the Japanese equivalent of “Guh-huh!”, a transcription of Banjo’s signature laugh that became a meme. I guess Japanese players thought his laugh sounded like the name of the capital of Okinawa.

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  14. Hopefully this is a sign that Sakurai’s willing to include Crash Bandicoot at some point…

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  15. The 2 Sans comments don’t surprise me since I think he’s hugely popular in Japan,even ranking high in favorite Nintendo characters in a magazine.And Sakurai has played Undertale and the 1st DLC was Joker,a game Sakurai has also played,

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  16. “I saw a lot of (Japanese) tweets saying ‘who?'”

    Western Twitter had a similar reaction to some suggesting the hero of DQ3 (of course, way before the actual announcement) being the next announced fighter, either that or “it’s Goku”. Very original.

    Also, I know Undertale is massive in Japan too, but I wonder if Sans has the same… “reputation” over there as here in the west. My first instinct when I saw those Sans comments was that they were ironic, but maybe they really meant it.

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  17. In relation to Banjo Kazooie’s popularity in Japan, I just want to point out that the N64 was not a success there, where it came third behind the PSX and Saturn in terms of sales. Common estimates have it selling around 5.5 million units, less than a third of what either the Famicom and Super Famicom had sold. So “a solid part of the N64 experience” might amount to a relatively niche game.

    Reply

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