Banjo-Kazooie Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC review: The love letter to bear and bird fans I've always dreamed Nintendo would write

Posted by Steven 'Dreamking23' Chavez • September 13, 2019 at 7:41 p.m. PDT

It wasn't long ago that Nintendo set the internet ablaze after announcing that iconic video game duo Banjo-Kazooie would be joining the cast of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The thought of ever seeing the crossover come to fruition seemed like an impossible feat due to the bear and bird being under Microsoft's umbrella, but despite the potential hurdles and many years of doubt from fans, both companies were able to make it happen.

Banjo-Kazooie have been in the hands of the public for about a week now, and as someone who has wanted to see them in Super Smash Bros. since the very beginning, I have taken the opportunity to spend ample time with the new DLC character to see how they hold up in the latest entry in the series. I am thrilled to find that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's version of Banjo-Kazooie is the love letter to fans of the duo that I always dreamed Nintendo would write.

Right out of the gate, it's easy to see that Nintendo nailed Banjo-Kazooie's look. With a design that takes its inspiration from the original games, the two inseparable fighters have made a seamless transition into the modern generation, and they look right at home among the other characters on the Smash Bros. Ultimate roster.

Seeing the duo in action with their updated look just makes me yearn for a full-fledged adventure game, and the Smash Bros. rendition of Banjo-Kazooie's stage, Spiral Mountain, only further increases that feeling. The new backdrop looks fantastic, bringing memorable characters from the Banjo series such as Mumbo, Bottles, Tooty, and Gruntilda back as cameos.

If you play the duo's stage in its normal form, throughout the course of the match Spiral Mountain will live up to its name and the camera will spin around. This changes the set up, and we get to see Gruntilda's Lair in the background, the witch herself flying around, and other familiar faces from the franchise.

The presentation of this new DLC fighter is top notch, and that same motif is kept when looking at Banjo-Kazooie's animations and moves. From Banjo holding Kazooie like a rifle and firing eggs to the taunt that sees Banjo bow just like he did when opening a new world in the original game, everything the bear and bird do seems fluid and jam-packed with nostalgia.

While I had no doubt that Nintendo would knock Banjo-Kazooie's look, stage, and music out of the park, their gameplay was something I found myself concerned about going in. Despite what was shown in their initial reveal trailer looking great, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's previous DLC character came loaded with quite a bit of controversy.

Hero from Dragon Quest, who also had great presentation, hit Nintendo Switch consoles equipped with randomness being a major factor in his move set. With the ability to summon spells that randomly generate, and some spells having the chance to KO in one hit at 0%, fans quickly became torn on whether or not the character is tournament viable, or even if he should be banned from tournaments altogether.

Thankfully, Banjo-Kazooie is much more straight forward than Hero, and overall the duo plays great. With three jumps at their disposal and their run being Kazooie's Talon Trot, the two have excellent mobility and feel just how you'd expect them to in Smash Bros. — fun and easy to use.

The bear and bird utilize several very useful tools in their arsenal, including their Up Special that sends them soaring high into the air and is great for recovering, as well as fast, hard-hitting attacks like forward Smash that have strong KO power.

Two different projectiles also help make up their repertoire, and switching between the standard egg shot and grenade eggs make for a scary zoning game. Dropping grenade egg down often causes the opponent to turn their attention to not being blown up, which allows you to run in and go for a mix up or throw regular eggs on screen to cause more chaos. It's extremely satisfying putting grenade eggs into play, and I encourage any Banjo-Kazooie players to put some time into experimenting with its potential.

Of course, we have to address the elephant in the room... Wonderwing. Banjo-Kazooie's Side Special is an attack that travels a great distance horizontally, blows through nearly everything, and has incredible KO power.

"Thankfully, Banjo-Kazooie is much more straight forward than Hero, and overall the duo plays great. With three jumps at their disposal and their run being Kazooie's Talon Trot, the two have excellent mobility and feel just how you'd expect them to in Smash Bros."

It was hard to imagine how Nintendo would regulate such a move when first seeing it in the trailer, but the drawbacks they put into place work well to keep it from being broken. For starters, this move can only be performed five times per stock, and once it's gone, it's gone, so you'll have to get KO'd to get it back.

Secondly, Wonderwing does lose to throws, so if you have a ranged throw with a character like Samus or can time your close-range throw correctly, you'll beat it clean. This attack also feels a bit slower on start up, so if a Banjo player tries to randomly toss it out from too close, you have a good chance of stopping them in their tracks.

One of the most important things to know about Wonderwing is how punishable it is. Due to how far it travels, blocking this attack gives you plenty of time to run up and counterattack. In addition to that, this special move is often used as a recovery option when thrown off the stage, which means you can properly space the attack out and punish as the Banjo-Kazooie player lands.

It's really hard to find any gripes with Banjo-Kazooie in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but one thing I was fairly disappointed in was the fact that their Forward Air doesn't have the ability to spike. The attack looks very similar to Mario's Fair — which does spike — yet it doesn't have the same property. That's a nitpick at most, especially considering Banjo's attack does have some KO power, but if I were going to change anything about the character it would be that.

Nintendo has introduced another amazing DLC character into the world of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and did a fantastic job with their development. Banjo-Kazooie is exactly the character I always hoped they would be in the crossover fighting series.

The bear and bird look better than ever, and their play-style is both easy to use and extremely fun to dive into. Egg grenades make for a scary mix up game, while Wonderwing is a very strong, yet very manageable attack.

This fan-favorite duo that hails from the Nintendo 64 era comes with a move set, stage, and music that will certainly trigger feelings of nostalgia within you.

If you play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, you can't go wrong picking up Banjo-Kazooie. You can purchase them through the Fighters Pass for $24.99 USD, which gives you access to all five DLC characters, or pick them up individually for $5.99 from the Nintendo eShop.

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