There were plenty of people who thought getting Banjo-Kazooie into the world of Smash Bros. would be impossible. I thought like that at some point as well. Then Microsoft and Nintendo started to buddy up, and the window of opportunity was cracked open just a tiny bit.
Eventually we did get the bear and bird in Smash Bros. Ultimate, and even though it came in a time when the collab was more likely, it was still super surprising to see. In an interview with GamesIndustry, RARE Studio head Craig Duncan explains how it all went down.
"We had an initial kick off call with Sakurai-san and some of his team. There was myself, Gregg Mayles... who is the father of Banjo, even though he hates it when we call him that. Andrew Wensley, who runs our business team. And a chap called Paul Cunningham, who runs our partnerships. Those people had a conversation, [Nintendo] talked through what their approach would be, and then that process started. And then a year goes by of sharing animatics and ideas and character concepts. It was a back-and-forth. We ended up with something that was really great. But the execution came from the Smash team."