“I don’t know if there’ll ever be a new Banjo,” says Grant Kirkhope.
Banjo-Kazooie is, to this day, considered one of the greatest 3D platformers of all time, but the series has been slumbering for many, many years. Though Microsoft attempted to bring it back with Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, that was deemed a disappointing sequel by fans of the series, while indie attempts at making “spiritual successors” – like Yooka-Laylee – have also yielded mixed results.
Recently, however, Nintendo made the announcement that the iconic platforming duo would be returning to the limelight by being added to the roster of fighters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (a move that was easier on both, Microsoft and Nintendo’s sides than one would expect). Fans were elated about the announcement, in light of the fact that this was something the Smash community had been demanding for years. But considering just how rapt the response to this has been, does this mean Microsoft might now consider greenlighting a proper sequel?
Grant Kirkhope, composer of the franchise and one of the people most commonly associated with the series, doesn’t know if that’s the case. “My honest opinion is I don’t know if there’ll ever be a new Banjo,” he said while speaking with VGC. “It’s easy to go, ‘look at these numbers’, but it might be a drop in the ocean for Xbox.
“Is there a market for it? I just don’t know. I would think that Rare probably doesn’t have the appetite for it. They’re super busy with Sea of Thieves and that’s a gigantic game: it’s going to take the whole studio to keep making content for that.”
“Maybe the E3 reception has made Microsoft think about it,” Kirkhope continued. “But the trouble is, if I say anything more definitive than that then the fans will think I’m in the know! When really, I’m just a composer.
“I have no connection to that decision what-so-ever. Gregg Mayles and Tim Stamper are the real inventors of Banjo… I’m just the most visible on social media.”
We do know that Rare is working on something else beyond their continuous support for Sea of Thieves, while Microsoft’s recent push for first party exclusives would also give one hope that a Banjo revival might not be that far-fetched. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking. Let’s just hope Microsoft sees value in the brand, especially after the reaction to the Smash announcements, and decides that it’s worth one more go after all.