Mario, True Villain, Was Indeed Supposed to Be Punching Yoshi in Super Mario World

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Sprites in video games were a frequent cause for confusion back in the day, causing frequent arguments over just what some of them were supposed to be. Before the internet, it was also a lot harder to hash out who was right, but now we have access to nearly endless (and largely useless) knowledge, and we’re finally getting answers—some of them mildly disturbing.

Such is the case of Mario and Yoshi’s “teamwork” in Super Mario World. Mario has a habit of punching things, with the official line being that it’s his raised fist that breaks bricks, and it turns out that Yoshi was not spared his wrath. That’s right. When Mario needs Yoshi to eat something, he’s not just offering some helpful pointers with his outstretched hand. It’s official; he is indeed punching Yoshi in the back of the head to get the dinosaur’s tongue to come out.

Really, it comes as no surprise from Mario, who has a habit of stomping on turtles and other creatures that he could just as easily avoid. The news comes from an interview on Nintendo’s Japanese site, featuring Super Mario World Director Takashi Tezuka and Character Designer Shigefumi Hino, wherein Tezuka explained that his original designs were definitely intended as Mario punching his supposed pal to get his tongue to shoot out:

“Lots of people think that while Mario is pointing his finger foreward, he’s saying ‘Go,’ and Yoshi’s tongue comes out. However, the set up that I drew was that when Mario punches Yoshi in the head, the character’s tongue shoots out in surprise.”

The official action was later changed to something more family friendly and less likely to attract PETA’s attention, with official art supporting the change to Mario pointing and directing Yoshi’s actions. However, the in-game animation still pretty clearly looks like a punch in motion, with Yoshi wincing before impact:

(image: Nintendo, via NeoGaf)

Even if the sprite had been changed to align with the pointing explanation (that’s still tough to tell from available information), it definitely originated as Mario being a complete jerk. But really, is anyone that shocked when accessing one of the game’s hidden areas specifically requires Mario to leap from Yoshi’s back at a point that dooms the innocent steed to death? You’re a mess, Mario World.

(via Kotaku, featured image: Nintendo)

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.