Sure, there were games starting with “Y” that I could have used for today’s post, but since we’re just shy of the end of the challenge I thought I’d have a little fun with a cutesy character we all know and love intead. It’s Mario’s little green prehistoric buddy, Yoshi.
Supposedly, every-gamer’s-hero Shigeru Miyamoto came up with the idea of Mario having a ride-on sidekick back in 1985, but the graphical limitations of the 8-bit NES put the idea on hold for half a decade. The cute little dinosaur buddy was first introduced to gamers with the wildly well-received “Super Mario World” on the SNES in 1990. Since his induction – and because of the way that the character evolved over time – we often thing of “Yoshi” as being a single, specific character, but in reality the term was meant to describe an entire race of dinosaur-like creatures who come in a variety of colors that indicate their specific skills. By holding a Koopa shell in its mouth, a blue Yoshi could grow wings and fly, a red Yoshi could spit a round of three fireballs, and a yellow Yoshi could perform a “ground pound” attack. A basic green Yoshi could also harness any of these powers by licking up a Koopa shell of the corresponding color. Oh, and did I mention that any Yoshi could eat many of Mario’s enemies and use the bodies of others as spit-released-projectiles? Yeah, he was quite the helpful little buddy. You could even use him to cross wide gaps by jumping part-way across on his back and then having Mario leap from him to breach the remainder of the distance. Of course, this would result in Yoshi falling to his doom like some horrible, throwaway sacrifice, so none of us ever took that route, right?
The new character became so popular that Nintendo almost immediately began pasting his visage on other games as well. In 1992 there was “Yoshi” on the NES and Gameboy, and in 1993 there was “Yoshi’s Cookie” on the NES, Gameboy, and SNES. Neither of these games allowed you to actually control the little dino, however, as they were both simple puzzle games with Yoshi used only as a background image. “Yoshi’s Safari” on the SNES in 1993 was the first game to really feature Yoshi as a playable character again, but the ill-fated “Super Scope” game bombed with gamers and critics alike.
Finally, in 1995, Yoshi hit gold again with “Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island” on the SNES. The game centered on the Yoshis’ quest to help transport a helpless baby Mario home, and featured a lot of new abilities for the dino pals, such as laying and shooting eggs, and occasionally transforming into helpful vehicles. The game got rave reviews, and Yoshi was on top again. After that Yoshi was featured in several more games, and eventually became one of Nintendo’s go-to characters for multiplayer game series’ such as “Mario Kart”, “Mario Party”, and “Super Smash Bros.”
My biggest and most important experience with Yoshi is definitely via “Super Mario World”, which was one of the biggest games of my childhood, and one that many kids of my generation sunk countless hours into. I also played a fair bit of “Yoshi’s Cookie”, although as I mentioned before the character is hardly even a noticable part of that game. “Yoshi’s Island” was definitely another good one, although I can remember it being extremely frustrating because baby Mario would cry like a banshee whenever you dropped him. I was also never really a fan of the cartoon version of Yoshi, who had an annoying voice and acted like a whiny child much of the time. But give me some “Mario Kart” or “Smash Bros.”, and sure, Yoshi was definitely one of the regular options!
Long story short: while he may have hit a few bumps in the road since his inception, I definitely agree with the belief that Yoshi is one of the greatest sidekicks in video game history. Yoooo-shi!
No beating around the bush today, let’s just get right down to the nitty gritty… How many Yoshi’s have you sacrificed in your day?