In the fifth installment as part of a series of interviews commemorating the release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Super NES Classic Edition system, Nintendo developers focus on the topics of Super Mario World and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. They also discuss some interesting information in regard to the origin of Yoshi. Read on below to learn how the iconic Super Mario character was almost designed as a horse or crocodile:
Akinori Sao: I’d like to ask about Yoshi. Super Mario World has several noteworthy characteristics. One is that it marks Yoshi’s debut.
Takashi Tezuka: Uh-huh.
Sao: How did Yoshi come to be?
Tezuka: Shigeru Miyamoto said he wanted Mario to ride a horse!
Sao: A horse? (laughs)
Tezuka: I think he likes horses. (laughs) When we were making Super Mario Bros. 3, he had drawn a picture of Mario on a horse, and hung it on a wall near where he used to sit. I would look at that and think, “I think he wants Mario to ride something.” When we started making Super Mario World, we were working with the concept of a dinosaur land, so I had Hino do art for a kind of reptile.
Shigefumi Hino: The first keyword was horse, so I imagined something rather large and first drew up a creature like a large lizard.
Sao: A large lizard? (laughs)
Tezuka: It was like a crocodile. (laughs)
Sao: Yoshi is quite different from a crocodile! (laughs)
Tezuka: Yeah. It felt out of place to have a reptile suddenly appear in Mario’s world, so we went back and talked about how maybe it shouldn’t be like a crocodile.
Sao: In other words, the two of you consulted each other as you searched for the prototype for Yoshi. How did that croc-like creature shape up into Yoshi?
Hino: Tezuka had done a rough sketch and it was cute and pretty good, so I polished up Yoshi into its current form based on that.
Tezuka: That happened relatively quickly. I kind of forced the design though, saying, “It’s related to turtles.” (laughs)
Sao: That’s why, instead of a saddle, what’s on Yoshi’s back is…
Hisashi Nogami: A shell. Even after I joined the company, Tezuka kept insisting that it was a shell. (laughs)
Sao: (laughs) And that’s how Super Mario World, which debuted Yoshi as kin to turtles, became the top-selling title worldwide for Super NES.
Sao: As if you don’t know! (laughs)