“He always needs his tight shorts!" - The character designer behind Banjo Kazooie talks about his Smash debut

(Image credit: Rare)

It was a wild E3 for fans of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Two long awaited characters, Hero from Dragon Quest and Banjo-Kazooie, were confirmed as two of the new DLC characters for Nintendo's platform brawler. 

Steve Mayles, the character designer behind Banjo and King K. Rool, was surprised that Nintendo remained true to the original N64 character design. “I think it’s very true to the original concept,” he said in a recent interview with Youtuber Shesez. “I was surprised that they hadn’t made any tweaks, because with the K. Rool model they gave him a bit of a nip and tuck and he came out looking as good as he’s ever looked."

Mayles talked about what he would do if he was in charge of Banjo's Ultimate design. “He always needs his tight shorts! The proportions of the new Smash model are similar to the very original Banjo that nobody ever really saw that was in [SNES prototype] Project Dream," he said. “His head is a lot smaller, because when he made the transition from the adventure game to the 3D platformer that we know and love, I scaled his head up and made some changes to his proportions as well so he’d better fit the more cutesy style of the platformer.

“But this one has gone back a little bit to that adventure style game Banjo.”

It's fascinating to see the changes that different characters go through when including in different types of games, especially one as gigantic as Smash Bros. It's suprising that we got Banjo in Smash at all though. In an interview with Japanese magazine Famitsu Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai spoke about the challenge in bringing Banjo to Smash. 

"I’d say getting them to be able to be in the game was more difficult than any other fighter, though," he said. "Including them may seem natural since Banjo-Kazooie was originally on the Nintendo 64; Microsoft currently holds the rights to the characters, however."

"Speaking of Microsoft, it originated as a rival to Nintendo; with that said, however, there’s no sense in throwing salt at former business enemies," Sakurai said. "Bearing all of that in mind, they willingly loaned us the rights to the character for this game, and Rare’s employees were received with open arms. Thanks to that cooperation, we were able to help a lot of fans’ dreams come true!"

Missing the classic platforming days of Banjo? Check out the best platform games ever (that aren't Mario).

Freelance Writer

Aron writes for Upcomer covering the video games and eSports industries in-depth. He was previously a freelancer whose work appeared in Wired, Rolling Stone, Washington Post, and GamesRadar, among others.