7 Facts About Nintendo's Yoshi

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iStock.com/BrendanHunter

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.

Scott Ingram, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

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.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Nintendo

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.

Mental Floss's Three-Day Sale Includes Deals on Apple AirPods, Sony Wireless Headphones, and More

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Apple

During this weekend's three-day sale on the Mental Floss Shop, you'll find deep discounts on products like AirPods, Martha Stewart’s bestselling pressure cooker, and more. Check out the best deals below.

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Apple

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2. Sony Zx220bt Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones (Open Box - Like New); $35

Sony

For the listener who likes a traditional over-the-ear headphone, this set by Sony will give you all the same hands-free calling, extended battery power, and Bluetooth connectivity as their tiny earbud counterparts. They have a swivel folding design to make stashing them easy, a built-in microphone for voice commands and calls, and quality 1.18-inch dome drivers for dynamic sound quality.

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3. Sony Xb650bt Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones; $46

Sony

This Sony headphone model stands out for its extra bass and the 30 hours of battery life you get with each charge. And in between your favorite tracks, you can take hands-free calls and go seamlessly back into the music.

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Martha Stewart

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and buying a new pressure cooker, this 8-quart model from Martha Stewart comes with 14 presets, a wire rack, a spoon, and a rice measuring cup to make delicious dinners using just one appliance.

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Jashen

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Evachill

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Gourmia

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Townew

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FenSens

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Noerden

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Prices subject to change.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.

14 Facts About International Talk Like A Pirate Day

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iStock

Ahoy, me hearties! As many of you know, September 19 is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, an annual phenomenon that’s taken the world by storm, having been observed by every continent, the International Space Station, and even the Oval Office since it first made headlines back in 2002. So let’s hoist the Jolly Roger, break out the rum, and take a look back at the holiday’s timber-shivering history.

1. Talk Like a Pirate Day was originally conceived of on D-Day.

Talk Like a Pirate Day creators John Baur and Mark Summer (who’ve since acquired the nicknames “Ol’ Chumbucket” and “Cap’n Slappy,” respectively) created the holiday while playing racquetball on June 6, 1995—the 51st anniversary of the invasion of Normandy. Out of respect to the battle’s veterans, a new observance date was quickly sought.

2. September 19th also happens to be the birthday of the ex-wife of the holiday's co-creator.

“[September 19th was] the only date we could readily recall that wasn’t already taken up with Christmas or the Super Bowl or something,” the pair later claimed. Summers claims to harbor no ill will toward his former spouse, who has since stated, “I’ve never been prouder to be his ex-wife!

3. Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry is largely responsible for popularizing the holiday.

Dave Barry was so smitten with the holiday after having been introduced to it via email in early 2002 that he dedicated an entire column to its publicity that September, turning an inside joke into a global sensation. He later went on to make a cameo appearance in one of Baur and Summers’s buccaneer-themed music videos in 2011 (look for him in the video above at the 3:25 mark).

4. Real pirates spoke in a wide variety of dialects.

Despite some extensive “English-to-Pirate” dictionaries that have cropped up all over the Internet the idea that all pirates shared a common accent regardless of national origin is historically absurd, as National Geographic pointed out in 2011.

5. Actor Robert Newton is hailed as the "patron saint" of Talk Like a Pirate Day.

So where did the modern “pirate dialect” come from? Summers and Baur credit actor Robert Newton's performance in Treasure Island (1950) and have accordingly dubbed him the “patron saint” of their holiday. Tasked with breathing life into the scheming buccaneer, Newton simply exaggerated his native West Country accent and the rest is history.

6. John Baur's family was featured on a pirate-themed episode of Wife Swap.

The reality show’s highly-anticipated 2006 season premiere pitted the Baurs (in full pillaging regalia) against a family which, according to John’s wife Tori (a.k.a. “Mad Sally”), “behaved as though ‘fun’ was something that had to be pre-packaged for their protection.”

7. John Baur was also on Jeopardy!

Baur was described to the audience as “a writer and pirate from Oregon” in his 2008 appearance. “I didn’t win,” Baur said, “but the introduction made Alex blink.”

8. International Talk Like a Pirate Day has become a cornerstone of the Pastafarian movement.

Bobby Henderson, founder of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, cited Earth’s dwindling pirate population as the clear source of global warming in his 2005 open letter to the Kansas school board which established the religion. Since then, Talk Like A Pirate Day has been observed by devout Pastafarians worldwide. 

9. A Florida mayor once ignited a local controversy for making an official Talk Like a Pirate Day proclamation.

In 2012, Lake Worth, Florida Mayor Pam Triolo lightheartedly urged her constituents to embrace the holiday last year, writing, “The City … is known to possess a spirit of independence, high spirits, and swashbuckling, all traits of a good pirate.” Her actions were criticized by the city’s former commissioner, Jo-Ann Golden, who took offense to the association with murderous seamen.

10. Day of the Ninja was created in response to Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Not to be outdone by their hated rivals, the pro-ninja community was quick to execute the first annual Day of the Ninja on December 5, 2002. For Summers and Baur’s take on the warring factions, see the clip above.

11. Astronauts once celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day aboard the International Space Station.

In a 2012 interview, Summers recalled being “informed that the astronauts on the International Space Station were awakened to ‘A Pirate’s Life For Me' and joined in the pirate talk from space.”

12. President Obama once celebrated with a costumed buccaneer in the Oval Office.

In 2012, Barack Obama tweeted this image on Talk Like a Pirate Day with the caption “Arr you in?”

13. A congressman later used the holiday to slam President Obama's tax plan.

In 2011, Florida’s 12th congressional district representative Dennis Ross used the festivity as a political punchline after Obama made a speech detailing his tax plan, tweeting, “It is TALK like a pirate day … not ACT like one. Watch ye purses and bury yr loot, the taxman cometh.”

14. It's an official holiday in the state of Michigan.

On June 4, 2013, state senator Roger Kahn’s proposal to grant International Talk Like A Pirate Day official acknowledgement from the Michigan government was formally adopted, to the chagrin of some dissenting landlubbers. 

This story originally ran in 2013.