Xbox's Rare games are headed to Nintendo Switch Online. Could a Banjo game be in the works next?

Banjo Kazooie Smash
Xbox let Nintendo put Banjo in Super Smash Bros Ultimate back in 2019. (Image credit: Nintendo / Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Nintendo held a Partner Direct today featuring several games from Microsoft.
  • The second to last announcement during the direct was that old Rare games would be heading to Nintendo Switch's online service.
  • The original Killer Instinct heading over to the Switch was one of the most surprising additions that could lend hope for the future.

While so many people are concerned about the battle between Xbox and Playstation for a dwindling console market, Xbox and Nintendo have silently been creating a partnership that could lead to great things in the future. To the FTC's chagrin, Microsoft offered Nintendo a 10-year deal for Call of Duty to prove that Nintendo is a competitive force in the video game industry during their acquisition of Activision Blizzard and King. We have also seen Microsoft move over games to the Nintendo Switch, such as Ori, and games like Minecraft. 

Does this new partnership lead to a road for more pointed collaboration? Most studios under Microsoft aren't jumping on the opportunity to make a new Banjo game, and many other Rare IPs are sitting unused. With this new friendship, there could be a world where Nintendo-developed Rare IP could launch day and date on a Nintendo console, Xbox console, and PC. 

Will Killer Instinct 2 be multiplatform? 

Killer Instinct is a belove Xbox IP, but it might be time for it to grow outside of Xbox's walled garden.  (Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

In a move that started a few years back with the release of the Nintendo 64 version of 007 GoldenEye on both the Nintendo Switch and Xbox, more rare games have hit the Nintendo Switch Online service today. Here is a list of the Rare games Switch Online members can play right now. 

  • Battletoads in Battlemaniacs (Super Nintendo)
  • Snake Rattle 'n' Roll (NES)
  • Blast Corps (Nintendo 64)
  • R.C. PRO-AM (NES)
  • Killer Instinct (Super Nintendo)

I love seeing Killer Instinct on this list. Our very own Jez Corden recently held a poll on Twitter(X) discussing the potential future of the Killer Instinct series and on what platforms his fans think the game should launch. 

If you haven't voted yet, it's not too late to let your voice be heard. With nearly 12,000 votes on the poll so far, it would be hard to think that Xbox management wouldn't take a look at the results. I think Xbox should look to put Killer Instinct and its sequel on other platforms. Killer Instinct just received some of its first updates in years as Xbox brought back some of its developers to work on the game and hopefully on a sequel, though we have no hard confirmation of that now. 

It would be great for Xbox to move Killer Instinct over to other platforms, even the PlayStation systems in preparation for the release of Killer Instinct 2. In the recent business update meeting held on the Xbox Podcast, Phil Spencer discussed how they decide when to move some games over to other platforms. 

"We see an opportunity to utilize the other platforms as a place to just drive more business value out of those games allowing us to invest in maybe future iterations of those, so sequels of those or just other games like that in our portfolio."

Following that reasoning, it would make perfect sense to move Killer Instinct over to the Switch and PlayStation 5 and build up fanbases on those platforms, especially if Killer Instinct 2 is in the works. 

Will there be a new Banjo game?

Fan favorite, Banjo Kazooie, has yet to see a new game since 2008 (Image credit: Xbox)

Many Xbox fans have been asking for a new Banjo game for years. When Banjo Kazooie first got announced and released into Nintendo's gigantic crossover game Super Smash Bros Ultimate, many of us thought that must mean Xbox wanted to drive marketing for a new game that must be in the works. But it's been a long 5 years, and still no news. 

When Xbox acquired Double Fine Studios, Banjo fans thought we finally had a perfect studio to make a great Banjo platformer, but Tim Schafer shot down those hopes, stating that they wanted to make their own IP. 

Recently, though, we have had hope once again. In an interview back in December, Phil Spencer told our very own Jez Corden, "Banjo fans, I hear you."

While some thought Toys for Bob would be an excellent fit for a Banjo game, and that's a possibility, they were reportedly hit pretty hard by layoffs recently as part of the 1900 employees Xbox laid off post-ABK merger. The best way for the Banjo game to thrive is to take it down one of two avenues.

Option number one: follow a Mario + Rabbids formula where Nintendo allows Microsoft to use its IP to make a Banjo Kazooie crossover, either with Mario and friends or maybe just with Donkey Kong. On top of that, Xbox could also add Crash Bandicoot into the game, as Xbox also owns that IP. It could be a platforming crossover for the ages, and the news of more Rare IPs going to Nintendo today adds fuel to my unlikely dream. 

Option number two is to allow one of Nintendo's highly talented studios to make a Banjo Kazooie game that, again, could have crossover potential or could be a straightforward, fun, Nintendo-style platformer that could then be released on Nintendo Switch | Switch 2, and Xbox on day one. I think this is the route to go. Nintendo has proven they have what it takes to make a fun game that people want to buy, and the nostalgia of buying a Nintendo-developed Banjo Kazooie game in 2024/2025 would be powerful in its own right. 

No matter where we end up going, Game Pass will get us there.

Xbox Game Pass in 2024

Game Pass is still the best deal in gaming in 2024. (Image credit: Windows Central)

No matter what path Microsoft decides to take, we now know that every Xbox game will launch on day one in Game Pass, so whether it's a new Killer Instinct, a new Hi-Fi Rush, or a new Banjo Kazooie game, Xbox Game Pass will be bringing us awesome new adventures. You can pick up a subscription or add more time to your current subscription below.

What do you think about the apparent partnership between Xbox and Nintendo? Do you think there is hope we will see more direct collaboration between Nintendo and Xbox going forward? I think the writing is on the wall, and Xbox should not be afraid to use Nintendo's dominant position in Japan to spread Xbox games to one of its weakest markets.

Colton Stradling

Colton is a seasoned cybersecurity professional that wants to share his love of technology with the Windows Central audience. When he isn’t assisting in defending companies from the newest zero-days or sharing his thoughts through his articles, he loves to spend time with his family and play video games on PC and Xbox. Colton focuses on buying guides, PCs, and devices and is always happy to have a conversation about emerging tech and gaming news. 

  • fjtorres5591
    Uh, guys, pick one: either XBOX partners with Nintendo to put games on Switch and XBOX, *or* MS does a handheld XBOX to compete with Switch.

    MS believes in coopetition but Nintendo doesn't.
  • fdruid
    Gee, wonder if before putting them on the Wii, PS5, a toaster, etc, the idea of releasing them for PC ever crossed their minds.

    It seems like a new era of neglecting PC is coming.