Banjo Kazooie

Last year in March, there was a story doing the rounds about Rare's famous bear and bird from the 1998 Nintendo 64 game Banjo-Kazooie being named after the grandchild and son of the former Nintendo president, Hiroshi Yamauchi.

History suggested that Banjo's name was based on a musical instrument of the same name, and Kazooie's name was inspired by the kazoo. Both of these characters even played the instruments they're named after within the game.

At the time, Gregg Mayles, who served as the game's designer and is still at Rare to this day, confirmed the "Banjo part" was true but wasn't so sure about Kazooie. Now nearly a year later, writer and former Playtonic staffer Andy Robinson has "finally" been able to document it:

During my travels the topic of Yooka-Laylee, a spiritual successor to Rare’s Banjo-Kazooie games, would naturally come up, since I worked on it. And during one such conversation, a revelation was uncovered. With the blog section of this site launched, I can finally document it.

Former Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi has a grandson called – funnily enough – Banjo Yamauchi. His son is named Katsuhito Yamauchi, or ‘Katsuhi’ for short. When you combine these names you end up with ‘Banjo-Katsuhi’ – and it’s not a coincidence. I know, because the original game’s developers confirmed it.

The legendary video game composer Grant Kirkhope, who also worked on Banjo-Kazooie back in the day, even took to Twitter to share the news:

So, there you have it – case closed. One other interesting fact shared by VGC was how Banjo and Katsuhito both inherited Hiroshi Yamauchi's Nintendo stock when he passed away in 2013. They ended up becoming two of the company's biggest shareholders and were eventually sold back for more than $1bn.