Banjo Kazooie
Image: Rare

Banjo-Kazooie made their triumphant return in 2019 as downloadable fighters for Super Smash Bros Ultimate, but it turns out we could have potentially seen them make a return much sooner than that.

During a recent Twitter AMA, the former Playtonic writer Andy Robinson (now editor-in-chief at the video game publication VGC) confirmed that Banjo-Kazooie was at one point going to appear in the spiritual successor Yooka Laylee, which was released on multiple platforms back in 2017.

When a user named @cyberknight94 asked for Robinson's favorite behind-the-scenes story from when Yooka-Laylee was in development, he responded: "When Banjo-Kazooie was going to be in it, and then wasn't".

People obviously reacted to this news with a mixture of shock and excitement, wanting to know more about how the bear & bird would have featured in the game, though Robinson has yet to elaborate on the story and what happened to pull the plug on plans. A potential clue about their involvement, however, comes in the form of an old forum post from 2015.

Back when the project was still called Project Ukulele, Playtonic's studio director Gavin Price took to the Playtonic forums to clarify comments he'd made about collaborating with his former employer Rare in an earlier Guardian interview.

Here Price said it was unlikely that Rare and Playtonic would work on a game together in the future, but that they could potentially cross-promote, with Banjo and Kazooie appearing in the Xbox One version, while other mascots could cameo on other platforms. This is similar to how Shovel Knight appears in Tribalstack Tropics in the finished game.

Price was talking theoretically at the time, but it's possible that Playtonic later reached out to Microsoft and Rare to see about making this a reality.

You can read Price's full comment, dated March 24th, 2015, below:

"Hi all, Gavin here; time for a more thorough explanation of my comment in that Guardian interview;

It was a great question by Keith at the Guardian (who is a lovely chap by the way, it was amazing to have him visit). I wanted to get across with my Rare comments how that even though we've left them, lots of people are still there who we consider to be our friends and of course we wish them well with whatever they do in their future careers.

I don't see us collaborating on a game in future, more a sense that we help cross-promote each others games in fun ways if the chance arose either in Ukulele or other games we do in future. For example, IF Rare and MS were up for it, it would be great to have a certain Bear and Bird lost in one of our worlds and needing the help of our new heroes to get back (in return for a pagie of course! Maybe there'd be a single Jiggy in Ukulele hidden to give to BK and they give you back a Pagie). These could even be linked in to a stop and swap bit of fun between Ukulele and a Rare game, obviously all exclusive to an XBOX ONE version.

Maybe other platform holders would agree to other mascot cameo's's all just hypothetical right now!

That's all I meant by collaborating (in a nice little fun way aimed to give fans a little bit of fan-service!). Is Phil Spencer on these forums? If so I'd love him to read this (Hi Phil!). He's been a massive ally for Rare over the years so it's great to see him heading up the XBOX business - good times ahead all around I hope and the ultimate winner will be the fans!"

Obviously, this turnabout will be a bummer to those who wanted to see the bear and bird and lizard and bat team up, but at least we got to experience the N64 characters make a return two years later in Smash. As for what the future holds for them now, we'll just have to wait and see.

What do you make of this news? Let us know in the comments!