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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A More Constructive Banjo

By RAWKHAWK2010 - Get with the times, Banjo fans.

As I mentioned in my #IStandWithPhils article, we at KoopaTV have a healthy respect for a man by the name of Phil Spencer. Not just any man by the name of Phil Spencer (since there are at least two), but the recently-appointed new Head of Xbox who has made an earnest effort to get Rare and its IPs back on the right track. And the same Phil Spencer who, just last month, expressed his desire (or unusually-enthusiastic compliance) of seeing everyone's favorite hillbilly bear in Smash.

Phil Spencer Banjo Kazooie SSB DLC Super Smash Bros. 4 Rare

Of course, this immediately opened up the #BanjoForSmash floodgates since the Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot was announced just two days prior. And with Conker's Big Reunion having shown the world that it's never too late for a Rare character to resurface, this development been viewed by many as a dream-already-come-true, where they will at long last be reunited with the classic Banjo of their childhood.

...But wait a minute, classic Banjo? Huh?

Thinking Banjo will actually even be in Smash in the first place may be deluded, but it's also innocent. However, being predisposed enough to think Nintendo would call all the shots in such a scenario is downright disrespectful to the man (#IStandWithPhil) who put the offer on the table in the first place. And Banjo too, for if we assume A) that Rare is planning to appropriate the Nuts & Bolts designs for the next main entry of the franchise (with them most recently appearing in Banjo-Kinectie™, however shittily), and B) that Rare is currently abstaining from hopping aboard the 3D platformer renaissance wagon (as evidenced by this weird-looking creative director telling a platform-begger that the company is about "new things"), then pretending Banjo never progressed past his fledgling Nintendo 64 days would be nothing but an affront. An affront towards Banjo, an affront towards Phil (#IStandWithPhil), and quite frankly, an affront towards all that I hold holy. 

Because newsflash, Banjo's not just your personal blank-slate platforming avatar (more on that in a future article), but a character. A character with development, a character with growth, a character who has gone through rough spots just like any other hero. And the idea of scrubbing him of all his "undesirable" history to please JonTron and his ilk is honestly the most toxic thing that could ever happen to him.

Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts Gruntilda RawkHawk2010
Not your childhood Banjo, but he's as real as real gets. 

A continuity-altering cleanup won't just make it look like Nuts never happened (which would be bad enough), but will leave Banjo in a permanent catatonic state where he'll NEVER again have the opportunity to change or evolve, lest Rare incur the yet-unprecedented wrath from the JonTron collective. It will seal Banjo's fate as two distinct entities, one the "real Banjo" and one the "not really Banjo", where the latter will be seen as stealing the former's glory at the first murmuring of innovation or boundary-pushiness; a terrible fate which may be awaiting Team Star Fox at this year's E3 if Miyamoto the Menace has done enough string-pulling.

And speaking of strings, I guess now is a good time to show what I've strung together -- a more constructive Smash pitch for a more constructive Banjo:

Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts buzzsaw
B: Allows Banjo to buzzsaw a dude into shreds. 

Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts cannon
Up B: Allows Banjo to shoot himself at dudes and recover.

Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts hurler launcher
Side B: Allows Banjo to haul ass with a dude in tow.

Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts Final Smash garbage trash fall
Final Smash: Allows this.

As you can see, Banjo's attempt to put a chink in George Ice Cube straight sucked. And that's the beauty here, because while your typical Mario or Pac-Man player might be able to get what he wants by repeating the same tired tactics until muscle memory reaches a certain threshold, a Banjo player will have to embrace a way of playing that's far evolved from his less sophisticated Smash brethren. Like in Nuts & Bolts, the player won't get better with time, the player will get better with sheer ingenuity and resourcefulness when they're tasked with constructing their own moves from the ground up. And if Scarf Boy wants this mechanic banned from tourneys? Well, too bad! 'Cause Banjo won't have a L.O.G.'s Choice default move to speak of.

Nintendo can take it or leave it, but if Phil is the man I think he is (#IStandWithPhil), then he'll set the offer with whatever Banjo design he damn well pleases. And while the end result may not be totally like the above, I believe in my heart that it will still be a Banjo based less on petty retro nostalgia-pandering and more on continuing from where he last left off. A Banjo who pulls himself up by his bootstraps and looks to the future instead of the past. 

A Banjo...who matters.

Does Rawk's vision match up with the Banjo YOU want in Smash? Let Nintendo know via the Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot!

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