Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: How to play Banjo & Kazooie – First impressions and move-list

Surprise surprise! Nintendo dropped the latest Smash DLC character on us, Banjo and Kazooie, out of nowhere during the last Nintendo Direct. Of course, we immediately downloaded them and found that they are kind of strange to play. After playing them for a few hours and totally giving up sleep, we have put together a decent beginner’s guide to the duo. This guide goes over every move in their arsenal and its potential uses, and outlines a simple gameplan for anyone picking up Banjo and Kazooie for the first time.

Mobility

Banjo and Kazooie are an awkward team. Banjo moves slowly on the ground and in the air, but Kazooie’s dash is actually pretty quick. The team has low aerial mobility but multiple jumps that let them change their trajectory and be tricky in the air. Many of their moves have limited applications, so BK is going to have to make the most of their awkward mobility to win matches. I would not call this character straight forward by any means.

Jab

BK’s jab is not the best. Its range is deceptively short and it starts up slowly. The end of the three hit jab combo knocks the opponent into the air at an awkwardly steep angle that makes it hard to follow up. BK’s flurry does mediocre damage and knocks the opponent away at a shallower angle, which can be OK for setting up ledge guarding opportunities. To be honest, in early testing I found it better to use jabs as a setup for tick throws and other shenanigans than as an actual damage dealer or defensive technique.

Ftilt

This move just doesn’t seem good for much. It comes out slow, its range is also deceptively short, it always knocks the enemy away pretty far but doesn’t kill. At best it can be used at low percentages to set up edge-guarding situations but that’s about it.

Utilt

This move is great. It comes out quick, hits like a truck, but doesn’t send the enemy too high up. Basically, it’s a combo move. At low percents you can just mash this out and string it into itself for 36-ish percent damage. Its hit-box is larger than it seems, making for a good anti-air. You’ll be stringing this together with aerials in many of your BnB combos.

There’s only one problem though. Some characters just completely low-profile the move while standing. Meta-Knight, for example, cannot be hit by this move while on the ground. So you’ll have to use your other moves to create setups in order to guarantee this move hits.

Dtilt

This move is also pretty good. It starts up slow, like lots of BK’s moves, but it’s a poke with a lot of range. It still hits the opponent from several character widths away, longer than the length of a platform on Battlefield. Its hit-box is also quite low so you can shield poke with it. It is, effectively, a mid-range zoning tool

Dash Attack

BK’s Dash Attack is a roll, very similar to Donkey Kong’s. However, I would say that BK’s roll is much better. Its hitbox is quite large, which actually serves to protect the duo from being out poked. At low percents it barely launches the opponent making for easy combo follow-ups. At higher percents it knocks the opponent of the stage at a decently shallow angle, allowing for edge guarding opportunities.

Fsmash

You’ll note that BK doesn’t have a whole lot of killing smashes. At the edge, Fsmash will kill around 90 percent, which seems good, but good luck landing it. It’s slow. Its arc isn’t great. It’s just kind of awkward. You might be able to find a few setups for this, but the problem is its knockback power. Before killing percentages it doesn’t do anything. In fact, in low percentages it causes the opponent to slide and remain standing and you don’t even recover soon enough to attack them afterward. It’s just an awkward move, but if you need a smash to kill this is what you will use.

Usmash

This is one of BK’s better smashes. It comes out very quick, surrounds BK on all sides, hits multiple times, and can be used in some pretty effective hit-strings. It won’t kill, but it will rack of the damage. In fact, its lack of kill power isn’t horrible since you can go for an aerial follow-up after landing this smash and continue racking up damage. Just note this is going to be a follow-up, not a true combo.

Dsmash

Dsmash is an OK smash. It covers BK on both sides and comes out faster than Fsmash. But it doesn’t kill until over 100% and it has very limited use until then. Best used as a “get off me” tool.

Nair

One of BK’s best moves. This is basically just Ivysaur’s Nair, which is one of the best in the game. It has a ton of range, a hit-box that surrounds BK to keep them safe, and it easily can combo into itself. Use this all the time. Use it on approach. Use it defensively. Use it in the middle of combos. It’s just great.

Fair

You’ve seen this move before. Mario, Gannondorf, all manner of characters have gigantic haymaker punches with slow start-up as their Fairs. As you might suspect, this is a kill move. Land it while edgeguarding or while the opponent is at a high percent and you’ll get a stock. Many of your combos and hit-strings will lead to this attack as an ender.

Uair

Uair is another good aerial. It has almost no knockback and that’s a good thing. It’s incredibly easy to combo into and out of. You’ll get a lot of good juggles out of this, easily racking up some high percentages. Just don’t use it as an anti-air because it’s hit-box is not as big as you’d think.

Dair

BK’s Dair is not great. It causes them to rocket downward after a small stall. The very beginning of the move is a spike but it’s hard to survive even if you land it and it’s not very powerful. Landing just the later part of the move will knock the opponent away, but landing the beginning and the end while the opponent is standing will keep them close to you for follow-up opportunities. Unfortunately it’s very easy to get knocked out of this move and it’s a huge commitment to a downward trajectory, making it only useful in limited circumstances.

Bair

This move is OK. At lower percentages it combos into itself and it racks up some decent damage. It also starts up very fast. At mid percentages the last hit of this move will knock the opponent back a decent distance, but if the last hit doesn’t connect they won’t go anywhere.

Grab

Banjo’s grab is short ranged. You’ll need to be right up against the opponent for it to hit. It starts up in average time. However, it’s still a major part of his game, because of his throws.

Pummel

Kazooie’s pummel isn’t that great. It does little damage and comes out slow, so you can probably only get a few pecks before the opponent wiggles out.

Fthrow

Your edgeguarding throw. This chucks the opponent a decent distance at a shallow angle, allowing you to wall them opponent off from the edge.

Uthrow

One of BK’s two combo throws. This chucks them upwards at a low enough distance (at low percents) to be followed up with Nair or Uair.

Dthrow

BK’s best combo throw. This is basically K. Rool’s Dthrow. It buried the opponent and sets you up for followups. It’s INCREDIBLY good, and allows you to get your combo of choice at low percentages. At any percentage above 60, you can combo this into a point blank side-special for a KO near the edge and at 80 or so you can do it mid-screen.

Bthrow

This is BK’s kill throw, but honestly they kill better with Dthrow into a smash or special. Probably not worth using.

Nspecial

BK’s neutral special makes them throw a bouncing egg. It does very little damage and travels very little distance, but if you hold the button, Banjo will hold Kazooie like a gun and run around with him while firing. This is meant to harass opponents, but it doesn’t do a great job. You have to get so close to make the eggs hit that you might as well stick to your normals.

Side-special

This is one of BK’s most interesting specials. You only get five charges of this special per stock. However, using it rockets BK forward in a ball of fire, impervious to projectiles. It’s a good recovery tool, it does a ton of damage, it kills at mid-level percents, and it’s just a good tool all around. Careful though because you can get poked or thrown out of it. In general, you are going to want to save this for situations in which you absolutely need it. It’s incredible as a follow-up to a down throw, since it kills at middle percent’s, and I’d mostly suggest using it for that purpose.

Dspecial

This is another move with a strange hit-box. Using it causes Kazooie to throw an oblong egg backwards out of Banjo’s backpack. The egg will bounce around randomly (actually randomly) before exploding in a short while. It’s a decent zoning tool but the opponent can catch it before it explodes and throw it back at you. You can catch it as well but it’s hard to do so before it explodes. In general you’ll want to use this when engaged in aerial combat with your opponent, because it gives them something to avoid.

Uspecial

This is BK’s recovery. They will charge for a bit on a shock spring and then bounce off it. This recovery is unique in that you can immediately act after using it. This includes jumping, attacking, and even air-dodging. The best usage of this recovery is to charge it fully before jumping, then use it, use all of BK’s jumps, and then air-dodge toward the ledge. When used in this fashion it actually gives BK a surprisingly resilient recovery.

It’s also worth noting that the spring has a hit-box. So if you pursue the enemy with an edgeguard and miss, you might still be able to gimp them by hitting them with your spring as you recover.

Gameplan

As far as I see it, Banjo and Kazooie have a couple different modes of play. The first is through poking and harassment. They have a few really good tools with really good hit-boxes that will allow them to attack the opponent from relative safety.

They can also fish for a juggle combo using their up-air, up-smash, and up-tilt. This too could rack up some percentage fairly easily, but requires BK to play a little bit more aggressively.

The magic percentage for Banjo and Kazooie is 60-ish percent. At that point they can grab an opponent, pummel them a few times, bury them, and hopefully score a kill with their side-b. Of course, to make this gameplan work you have to be able to grab the opponent. If they refuse to play your game and keep to the air, you can use your powerful Nair to stuff some of their moves, and then knock them off into an edgeguarding situation, fishing for kills with Fair or an Uspecial gimp. At that point they should be at a high enough percentage to be killed with your aerials anyway.

That’s all we have for your first look at how to play Banjo and Kazooie. Of course this is just a small overview. Strategies will evolve as time goes on and pros might find more techniques for this duo. If you have any handy advice, leave it below in the comments.