What was once thought as a meme pick since the Smash Wii U/3DS days became a reality, as Steve from Minecraft, as well as Zombie, Enderman, Alex and their variant alts., has joined Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as part of Fighters Pass 2. His inclusion also marks the end of the war between Banjo fans and Steve fans in a stalemate. What war exactly? The war of being the first, and possibly only, Microsoft rep in Smash.
Back in 2015 during the Smash Ballot days, Microsoft CEO Phil Spencer tweeted about how he wouldn’t mind seeing Banjo & Kazooie in Smash because of their previous partnership with Nintendo during the GBA and DS days. This sparked hope for Banjo fans and made sure to vote for the bear and bird duo in the ballot as much as possible. Meanwhile, Steve fans have been constantly requesting their character to director Masahiro Sakurai on Miiverse, Twitter, and the Smash ballot, whether as a joke or as a serious pick. For the latter side of the fans, when it came to the announcement of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, this caused a bitter rivalry between them and Banjo fans. Both sides shared their arguments for their character and against their rival’s character.
For the Banjo fans, they argued that the duo has been long-requested since Melee, back when they were Nintendo characters before their parent company Rare Ware was bought by Microsoft. Banjo-Kazooie is considered a legacy series for how critically acclaimed the first two games were, and since Ultimate has been added other long-requested characters in the roster such as Metroid villain Ridley and Donkey Kong’s nemesis King K. Rool, they believe Banjo is next in line to be added. They argue against Steve for, aside from being a meme pick that appeals to zoomers and for Minecraft’s cringy fanbase that spawned over the past decade, being too stiff and awkward to work as a playable fighter due to the nature of Minecraft’s blocky art style.
For the Steve fans, they argued that Minecraft has become the best-selling game of all time, grossing over 200 million units since 2009, due to being easily available on every electronic devices. It has become a modern classic to which Steve is among other iconic video game characters like Mario and Sonic. And since Ultimate has a large cast of iconic characters in the roster, it would make sense for Steve to join in as well. They argue against Banjo for being from a dead franchise (there hasn’t been a new game since 2008) that only appeals to 30-year-old boomers and would be seen as “literal whos” in today’s generation of gamers.
Neither characters were added into the base roster of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but when the Fighters Pass was announced, the rivalry continued on. They believed only one of them could get in as our first and only Microsoft rep because no one knew at that time that we’ll ever get a second Fighters Pass, and if they do think there will be one, then it’s only viewed as a pipedream. During that period, both sides were using whatever leaks, rumors, and promotional merchandises they could find to back up their characters’ chances of being DLC fighters. When E3 2019 rolled around, Banjo & Kazooie were revealed before Steve, bringing cheer and rejoice from Banjo fans, believing that they have won the war. But then came the following year.
When Sakurai first introduced Sans from Undertale as a deluxe Mii costume, where instead of hat or wig for your Mii fighter, it’s a whole head to cover your Mii’s face, many people believe Steve would get the same treatment as a Mii Swordfighter costume because they still think he’s too stiff and awkward to work as a playable fighter. But then Steve was revealed on October 1st, 2020, proving his doubters and haters wrong. And it goes deeper. Not only was it confirmed that Minecraft on Nintendo systems was got paved the way to get Banjo in Smash, but it was revealed that Steve has been negotiated for Smash 5 years ago, meaning that both characters were planned since the beginning, thus rendering this fan war pointless.
Now that this 5-year war is over, this leads into another question: Will there be a 3rd Microsoft character in Fighters Pass 2? That depends if you believe in the “one character per company per pass” fan rule, in which case, there won’t be another Microsoft rep after Steve. The only possible exception is a Bethesda character because the characters for Fighters Pass 2 has been decided back in November 2019, according to Sakurai during his Byleth presentation, which is almost a year before Microsoft bought Zenimax Media (Bethesda’s parent company). But you would think they save the Vault Boy Mii costume for a Bethesda character instead of revealing it at Min Min’s presentation. Because of this reason, I have doubts for a 3rd Microsoft rep until any confirmation of a Fighters Pass 3, which I also doubt because Sakurai really needs that vacation.