Earlier this month during their E3 presentation, Nintendo unveiled two new characters for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the first character reveals since Persona 5’s Joker was shown in December. The two reveals, Hero from Dragon Quest and Banjo-Kazooie, appealed to both Japanese and western fans who were happy to see the third-party characters come to Smash Bros. One might expect that Banjo and Kazooie, owned by Nintendo’s competitor Microsoft, might be the harder of the two characters to secure, but that isn’t the case according to directer Masahiro Sakurai.
In his latest column for Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu (thanks to @PushDustin on Twitter for the translations), Sakurai commented on the complications of getting Dragon Quest’s heroes into Smash Bros. While he didn’t go into too much detail, getting Hero into the game is described as “difficult.” Specifically, Sakurai explained that Square Enix had restrictions on how many of Dragon Quest’s Heroes could interact, meaning Smash Bros. had to get a special exception.
This would make sense as Square Enix is often extremely hesitant to use the protagonist characters in spin-offs. Even in Dragon Quest Heroes, the protagonists are nowhere to be seen among the playable characters. While this is just speculation, these restrictions might also explain the lack of female skins for Erdrick and Sofia, as Smash Bros. typically offers them when available. Sakurai does comment that Dragon Quest VIII’s hero was added because of requests from western fans specifically for him, as the eighth game is the most popular outside of Japan.
The director also says that, while he expected Banjo-Kazooie to be a problem because the former N64-debuting characters are now owned by Microsoft, it was pretty much smooth sailing. The developers at Rare even helped out with getting the bear and bird into Smash Bros., though Sakurai does not detail how. While he admits he was worried about working with Grant Kirkhope, Banjo-Kazooie’s original composer, due to a language barrier, he was happy with the way it worked out.
Related to that, Sakurai closes the column by mentioning that he has no interest in the console wars of Nintendo vs. Sony vs. Microsoft. He believes all consoles have great games and thus he will respect that, the games, over where they come out.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is available on Nintendo Switch.