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Banjo with Kazooie in Nuts & Bolts.
Game(s) Diddy Kong Racing,
Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie,
Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge,
Banjo-Pilot, Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts,
Sonic & SEGA All-Stars
Racing with Banjo-Kazooie
Home Banjo's house, Spiral Mountain
Talking head icon(s) BanjoHeadHD.pngBanjo & Kazooie Heads BTXBLA.pngBanjoHeadGR.png
Additional Info

“I'm Banjo, and this here's my buddy, Kazooie!”
Banjo, Banjo-Kazooie

Banjo is one of the two eponymous stars of the Banjo-Kazooie series, alongside Kazooie. He has also appeared in the Donkey Kong series.


Banjo is a brown honey bear who tends to get into a lot of adventures, although he has been known to stop and race in planes, cars, and hovercrafts. He lives in his house in Spiral Mountain. Usually, his time is spent fighting Gruntilda the witch. He is always to be seen wearing his trademark tight yellow shorts, blue backpack and shark-tooth necklace. He is notably lazy, and always carries around his best friend, Kazooie the Red-Crested Breegull, in his backpack. According to Banjo-Kazooie's manual, he enjoys sleeping, swimming and occasionally, even dancing.[1]

History and development

Early conceptual artwork of Banjo.

According to an interview in RetroGamer magazine, in Banjo-Kazooie's original version, Project Dream, the hero was not Banjo, but a young boy named Edison. However, the development team decided this character was too generic. They changed him to a bipedal rabbit and then finally a bear, the latter of which was the best-received and was the first version of Banjo as he's known today. Banjo was named so simply because he plays the banjo and they felt it suited him as a name. Originally, Banjo's backpack was purely for keeping items in during his adventures. As the game developed, they decided they needed a way to make a workable double jump. They then decided that he would have magic wings in his backpack that could carry him short distances for just such a purpose. They also needed a way for him to move around more quickly, at which point they added fast feet which would come out of the backpack and carry him around. Eventually, these ideas developed into Banjo's best friend and constant companion, Kazooie. Mark Betteridge of Rare stated during the 2008 Tokyo Game Show that Banjo's backpack was inspired by backpacks used by Japanese schoolchildren.[2]

In the Games

Diddy Kong Racing

Diddy Kong Racing was Banjo's first appearance in a video game, although this was largely done as a form of advertisement for Banjo-Kazooie (same case as with Conker for the unreleased Twelve Tales). The game apparently takes place long before Banjo ever even met Kazooie.


In Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo and Kazooie set off to save Banjo's sister, Tooty, when she is kidnapped by Gruntilda. They happen upon Bottles, a long-time friend of Tooty's, who decides to help them out by teaching them various teamwork moves, which help them get through the evil witch's lair. They also meet Mumbo Jumbo, a shaman who helps them by turning them into various animals and objects to help them traverse to areas they normally would be unable to.

With the help of the Jinjos and their Jinjonator, they succeed in knocking her off her tower and burying her deep into the ground under a large boulder.


In Banjo-Tooie, taking place two years after Banjo-Kazooie, Gruntilda is resurrected by Mingella and Blobbelda and plans to destroy the entire Isle o' Hags to restore her self to flesh. Banjo succeeds in killing her two sisters and reducing Grunty to a head.

Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

Banjo returns once more as a primary protagonist in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, the series' third installment. In this game, Banjo is brought out of his eight-year retirement after Tooie when Gruntilda attempts to have Spiral Mountain built over with tower blocks and malls. The Lord of Games, sick of the constant squabbling between the duo and Gruntilda, creates a showdown between them, the winner getting Spiral Mountain's deeds, and the loser toiling in L.O.G.'s video game factory for all eternity.

Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge

Banjo returns as the main playable protagonist, although initially on his own, he is soon reunited with Kazooie.


Banjo appears as a playable racer in Banjo-Pilot. His stats are as follows:

  • Top Speed: 3/5
  • Acceleration: 3/5
  • Handling: 2/5

Conker's Bad Fur Day (Cameo)

In Conker's Bad Fur Day and its remake, Conker: Live & Reloaded, Banjo's head can be seen as a trophy above the fireplace in The Cock and Plucker on the game selection screen.

Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing with Banjo-Kazooie

In Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing with Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo and Kazooie appear as playable racers in the game. This marks Banjo and Kazooie's first appearance in a non-Rare game, and their first appearance alongside characters such as Sonic the Hedgehog.

Banjo and Kazooie's racing vehicle is a buggy known as the Bolt Bucket (modeled after the vehicles in Nuts & Bolts), and their All-Star Move is the "Jiggy Rain," during which Kazooie sticks her head out of the backpack, pecks Banjo, and then uses the Magic Wrench to summon Jiggies which fall from the sky.

Relations with other characters

  • Kazooie: She and Banjo are best friends, rarely seen apart. It is unknown how they first met. Banjo seems to be held in a high respect by Kazooie, as chiding her for being rude will usually make her stop or apologize, and he is not often the butt of her jokes. She does sometimes purposefully annoy him, however, and if pushed far enough, he'll get her back.
  • Bottles: He and Banjo are very good friends. They seem to have great respect for each other, and Banjo seems appreciative of Bottles' willingness to help. Banjo has a picture of Bottles above the fireplace in his house. Bottles seems to be one of the characters Banjo invites over frequently. He appears upset when Bottles dies during the beginning of Banjo-Tooie, getting onto Kazooie for saying he "wasn't the favorite character anyway," and when talking to Bottles' wife and kids, seems reluctant to talk about his death.
  • Mumbo: He and Banjo also seem to be good friends. They don't speak ill of each other, although Mumbo does joke about eating or skinning Banjo during certain transformations in Banjo-Kazooie. Banjo seems to invite Mumbo over frequently, as with Bottles.
  • Tooty: Banjo is Tooty's older brother, and seems to care for her greatly. When he awakens at the beginning of Banjo-Kazooie, he walks outside and asks Bottles what happened, and where she was. After learning about her kidnapping, he sets out with Kazooie to rescue her from Gruntilda. As usual, when Kazooie insults Tooty near the end of the game, he makes her stop.
  • Gruntilda: Banjo and Gruntilda are, of course, enemies. Banjo greatly dislikes Gruntilda for her evil nature and constant trouble-making. He seems most affected by the things she does, such as kidnapping his sister Tooty, killing Bottles, and even destroying his own house. Banjo also seems to fear Gruntilda somewhat, due to her magical prowess.


  • Banjo's voice is provided by Chris Sutherland, the lead programmer for the original Banjo-Kazooie game.[3]


  • "Gu-huh!"

From Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts

  • "Ah, this is the life. Pizza, sunshine, and not a care in the world!"
  • GRUNTILDA: Porky bear needs to move a lot quicker, to stop the glubber being used as cat litter!
    KAZOOIE: What's Jarhead on about now, Banjo? I'm bored of listening...
    BANJO: Sounds like Grunty's sent her flea-ridden sidekick Piddles to leave a "surprise" in the tank and pollute the glubber.
    KAZOOIE: But then Bottles will have to shut down the console, and that means more of his endless moaning. Let's stop it while we can!
    GRUNTILDA: I'll give you a chance, since I'm no gloater. Race me to stop Piddles leaving a floater!
    KAZOOIE: Huh? If we beat her in a race, she'll call off the plan and leave?
    BANJO: So she says. I was in a similar situation once before, a long time ago, with a genie and a giant pig...



  1. Banjo-Kazooie manual (Nintendo 64), pg. 6
  2. Kotaku: Banjo-Kazooie's Japan-Inspired Backpack
  3. ComputerAndVideoGames: Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts Q&A

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