Yoshi (ヨッシー Yosshī?, [jo.ɕːiː]) (English: /ˈjoʊʃi/ or /ˈjɒʃi/), once romanized as Yossy, is a fictional anthropomorphic dinosaur who appears in video games published by Nintendo. He debuted in Super Mario World (1990) on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System as Mario and Luigi’s sidekick, a role he has often reprised. Following his debut, Yoshi later starred in platform and puzzle games, including Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, Yoshi’s Story, and Yoshi’s Woolly World. Yoshi has also appeared in many of the Mario spin-off games, including Mario Party and Mario Kart, various Mario sports games, and Nintendo’s crossover fighting game series Super Smash Bros. Yoshi belongs to the species of the same name, which appears in various colors.
Shigeru Miyamoto stated that Nintendo had wanted Mario to have a dinosaur companion ever since the first release of Super Mario Bros.; however, it was not possible because of the limitations of the NES. The inspiration for Yoshi can be traced back further, to the green dragon Tamagon in the 1984 video game Devil World. Coincidentally, both are green lizards that hatch from eggs and can eat enemies with their large mouth, and also emit the same noise when they hatch. During the development of Super Mario Bros. 3, Miyamoto had a number of sketches around his desk, including an image of Mario riding a dinosaur. Takashi Tezuka, a Mario series developer, speculated that Miyamoto’s love of horse riding as well as country and western themes influenced Yoshi’s creation.
The concept of Mario riding a dinosaur also came from the NES video game Excitebike, which featured people riding motorcycles. He again wanted to feature Yoshi in Super Mario Bros. 3, but was still unable to. Tezuka designed two power-ups (the frog suit and racoon tail) to make up for this limitation.
Once the more powerful Super NES was released, Miyamoto was finally able to implement Yoshi into the series, putting Yoshi into the video game Super Mario World. Yoshi proved to be popular in this debut, which caused the next game in the series, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, to focus on the Yoshi species.
The version of Yoshi seen in the Super Mario Bros. film was made using a 3-foot-tall (0.91 m) animatronic dinosaur. Yoshi was designed in the film by Dave Nelson. The animatronic had nearly 200 feet (60 m) of cable and hundreds of moving parts inside of it, and was controlled by nine puppeteers. The body was cable-controlled, while the head was radio-controlled. Nelson described the overall process as being “difficult.” The creation of Yoshi was handled by a company independent from the filmmakers.
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