The Evolution of Yoshi
Hello, and welcome back to Evolution! This week we’re taking a look at Super Mario’s Yoshi.
This adorable little fella has been around for 26 years, and – while we all know his core design has remained much the same – subtle changes have been made to his artwork more often than you’d think.
Yoshi’s design is of course based heavily upon the appearance of dinosaurs and lizards, however, this original concept art suggests that things could’ve been much different.
It depicts the character as both a dinosaur-like creature and a bird-like creature; suggesting Nintendo were torn between two different art directions. If history is anything to go by, then they clearly made the right choice. Nevertheless, you must admit, Yoshi does look pretty cool with a sharp beak, pointed crest, and feathered tail.
Super Mario World (1990)
It’s remarkable how early on Nintendo seemed to nail the Yoshi design. All of the key features that we associate with today’s character – green skin, white belly, bulbous nose, saddled back, spiked-spine, coloured shoes – all appeared in his artwork for Super Mario World; released in Japan way back in 1990.
Super Mario Bros. Pinball Machine (1992)
A rather bizarre illustration appeared on American pinball machines in the year 1992. In what may well have been an artists’ mistake, Yoshi was pictured with yellow spikes; a colour they’ve never been before or since.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (1996)
A first 3-D appearance came in 1996’s Super Mario RPG, and Yoshi’s simple rounded features coped pretty damn well with the shift. He was perhaps the most polished looking character in the entire game, surpassing even Mario.
Super Smash Bros. (1999)
By now Yoshi’s appearance seemed very much cemented in a 3D style, games like Mario Kart 64, Mario Party and Yoshi’s Story had all stuck to a very specific design – a small, stubby body, large hands with apposable thumbs, a white underbelly, and rounded humps rather than spikes on the spine – so this more old fashioned piece of Super Smash Bros. artwork is somewhat of a collector’s item.
Super Mario Sunshine (2002)
Mario and his companion showed off the graphical powers of the GameCube back in 2002. Super Mario Sunshine was one of the best-looking games on the console and Yoshi looked more refined than ever.
Yoshi Topsy-Turvy (2004)
It was back to 2D artwork for this Gameboy Advance game developed by the now defunct Artoon studios. Artoon adopted a rather charming cut-out style when drawing Yoshi; with big, bold outlines and rather charming lighting effects. Unfortunately, this artistic flair didn’t translate to the game which, while incorporating some interesting tilt mechanics, was pretty bland.
Super Mario Strikers (2005)
This piece borrows its art style from cell-shaded games like Okami and The Wind Waker. It was rather a bold move by Nintendo to try and break into the soccer market, going head-to-head with EA Sport’s spin-off title FIFA Street.
It’s perhaps most notable for being one of the few official illustrations to portray Yoshi with an angry facial expression.
Mario Kart Wii (2008)
There’s certainly no anger here, in fact Yoshi looks more jovial than ever in Mario Kart Wii. His skin is markedly lighter than previous in iterations, with the new ‘sunnier’ shade of green going on to become a character norm.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010)
Perhaps my favourite image of the lot, here we see Yoshi using his chameleon-like tongue to grab a Luma Berry. I’m sorry to get all emotional here, but just look at the joy in Mario’s eyes watching his best buddy do what he does best, AW.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (2014)
This game saw Yoshi appear in colours other than his usual green. Nintendo introduced several alternative Yoshi designs – red, blue, yellow, pink, light blue, and purple – each of which would appear depending on in-game circumstances.
Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (2016)
Yoshi’s next appearance will be in the upcoming Rio 2016 Olympics tie-in. Again this images’ most extraordinary quality is the fact that Yoshi isn’t smiling… he looks bloody determined though doesn’t he?
Cheers for reading! I’ve been Jay Michael, you can find me on Twitter @Jayswriting and on the Rooster Teeth Website at JayMichaelWriting. Until next time, peace.