7 Facts About Nintendo's Yoshi
People love their pop culture dinosaurs, whether they're fearsome prehistoric predators like in Jurassic Park or a family of screwball sitcom puppets—and one famous green fellow is king of the consoles. Created by Japanese designer Shigefumi Hino, Yoshi made his debut on the 1990 SNES title Super Mario World and quickly became everyone's favorite fruit-eating sidekick. In honor of the recent launch of Yoshi's Crafted World, the eighth main installment in the Yoshi franchise, here are a few interesting facts about the character's gaming history.
1. Yoshi's real name is T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas.
Like many people (or cartoon characters), Yoshi goes by a diminutive of his real name: T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas. According to an old Nintendo guide shared by author Blake Harris, the character originally had a far more convoluted name more befitting of a dinosaur. However, that long scientific-sounding name doesn't roll off the tongue quite like Yoshi does, so it's easy to see why Nintendo chose to omit it from their general marketing.
2. Yoshi was supposed to debut on the NES.
The legend of Yoshi may have begun with Super Mario World—and that iconic box art—but it turns out the character was planned to debut much earlier, and on different hardware. According to legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto (i.e. the "Steven Spielberg of video games"), the team had initially wanted Yoshi to appear in the original Super Mario Bros. back in 1985, five years before Super Mario World. Due to technical limitations, however, designing Mario's trusty steed was simply not possible on the 8-bit era of NES hardware, but the 16-bit capabilities of the SNES allowed programmers to execute more of the dino's mechanics on the screen.
3. The character is believed to have been influenced by Devil World.
Yoshi has always been out of this world, but his predecessor might have been of the underworld. Devil World was a Pac-Man-esque NES title from 1984 (and the only Miyamoto design from that era to never make its way to North American audiences, due to its use of religious symbols) that revolved around a green dragon fighting the devil in literal hell. The similarities between Tamagon, Devil World's protagonist, and Yoshi are fairly noticeable, from his green skin, orange spikes, general roundness, and how each new life shows him hatching from an egg.
4. Yoshi has several color variations.
Technically speaking, Yoshi is actually a whole species of creatures that exist in the Mario universe. While the Yoshi we all know and love is green, other members of the species have appeared as red, yellow, blue, pink, light blue, purple, brown, black, white, orange, and magenta. There aren't any specific powers or abilities the various Yoshis have, but some of the versions, like the white and black, didn't appear until many entries later in the Mario franchise.
5. The art direction for Yoshi's Island turned out much differently than Nintendo anticipated.
One of the most acclaimed titles on the SNES, Yoshi's Island (1995) is one of the more aesthetically distinct platformers Nintendo has ever produced, and it's what made Yoshi stand out as a defined character in the franchise. The art style feels like it came straight out of a children's coloring book, but that wasn't what Nintendo had asked for. Following the success of the company's Donkey Kong Country series, Nintendo pushed Miyamoto to create something that followed in that game's footsteps, with its 3D-rendered characters and animations. Miyamoto refused. According to The Gamer, "As a form of protest, but also to prove a point, he decided to make his new game's graphics as childish as possible, as if they were drawn with crayons. What started as a passive-aggressive dig at his bosses ended up becoming Yoshi's signature style."
6. The movie version of Yoshi was not quite so cuddly (but he was voiced by cartoon favorite).
The less said about the bomb that was 1993's Super Mario Bros. movie the better (even actor Bob Hoskins, who played Mario, regrets its existence). But even though the movie presented Yoshi as a tiny animatronic velociraptor of sorts (which the human-sized Mario would never be able to ride), they at least found a friendly, familiar voice to produce all those dino squeaks and squeals. Frank Welker, the Emmy-winning voice actor who is best known as only person to ever voice Scooby-Doo's Fred Jones (as well as countless others, including Abu in Aladdin, Curious George, and Scooby himself since 2002), did the vocals for Yoshi and a Goomba (one of the most common foes in the Mario franchise).
7. A rare Japanese-only version of Yoshi's Cookie is worth thousands.
Although Yoshi's other early solo outings weren't as well-received as Yoshi's Island, they apparently still hold quite a lot of value. In one case, a special limited edition copy of Yoshi's Cookie can be found priced at over $1000. Why this version in particular? It was used as part of a promotional campaign for a cooking oven called the Kuruppon. Only 500 copies were made, and this version of the game is vastly different than the original, like it's inclusion of a feature that allows you to learn how to bake the cookies from the game in real life. If you're craving some of Yoshi's cookies but don't have that kind of dough laying around for the original tutorial, there are various recipes on YouTube and online to try.