News Article

Month of Yoshi: The Brightly Coloured History of Yoshi

Posted by Darren Calvert

Getting to know the green one

We all know and love Mario’s sidekick, Yoshi — he’s the loveable green creature (also available in other colours) who likes nothing more than to gobble up a Shy Guy, flutter gracefully to higher ground or partake in go-karting competitions in his spare time.

With Yoshi’s New Island gracing the 3DS this coming Friday, what better time to look over Yoshi’s rich history? It's been full of dino-mite highs, with some less-than-eggciting lows, and the occasional odd moment to keep things interesting.

On the drawing board

The world was first introduced to Yoshi on Super NES in 1990, but it is said that Shigeru Miyamoto had wanted to give Mario a sidekick to ride around on in the original Super Mario Bros. in 1985. Technical limitations kept the idea in the incubator during the 8-bit NES era; however, famed developer Takashi Tezuka found a short-term solution with long-term appeal. By fitting Mario in a frog suit in Super Mario Bros. 3, Tezuka hoped to keep Miyamoto-san happy until his vision of a ride-on animal sidekick could be fully realised.

Super Mario World (SNES) - 1990

Super Mario World rocketed the bar into the stratosphere when it arrived as a Super NES launch title with fancy Mode 7 effects, tons of levels and innovative ideas. Miyamoto-san’s dream of giving Mario a sidekick was finally made a reality. While we often think of Yoshi as a single character, in SMW a “Yoshi” is a breed of creature which comes in a variety of colours, boasting different abilities and skills.

Of course we’ve come to know and love classic green Yoshi most of all, who in this game would give Mario a ride, gulp down enemies using his extendible tongue and take a hit for Mario before running away in terror. Even in this first appearance Yoshi showed he was not just a simple sidekick: by holding on to certain Koopa Troopa shells, Yoshi would gain the ability to stomp his enemies, breath fire and even grow little wings so he could fly for a short time. Mario showed his true, selfish colors in return by hopping off Yoshi and dropping the dino into bottomless pits to save his own skin during errant jumps.

Yoshi (NES / Game Boy) - 1992

Following on from Yoshi’s début, our lovable green chum went on to star in his own falling block puzzler — simply called Yoshi in North America, but also known as Yoshi’s Egg in Japan and Mario & Yoshi in Europe. It may be a simple tile-matching puzzler, but it’s the mechanics that really set it apart from the countless other entries in the genre.

Although this was branded as a Yoshi game, the player would actually control a plate-spinning Mario at the bottom of the screen. If you could match two halves of an egg-shell together then a Yoshi would hatch. Unfortunately the game was not met with favourable reviews at the time, with some reviewers calling it dull and questioning its replay value. The game failed the test of time when it hit Wii U Virtual Console in 2013, which we found upon review to be “exceedingly dull”

Yoshi was on a bit of a roll in the early ‘90s as he went on to star in yet another falling block game called Yoshi’s Cookie for the NES in 1992, which was a semi-sequel to the underwhelming Yoshi. The objective of the game was simply to create lines of cookies in order to make them disappear. The game quickly made it over to the Super NES in 1993 and received relatively favourable reviews at the time. When the NES version released on Wii Virtual Console, we found it to be slightly tastier than its predecessor.

Yoshi's Safari (SNES) - 1993

Also in 1993, Yoshi would go on to champion Nintendo’s ill-fated Super Scope light-gun peripheral in Yoshi's Safari. Playing from the perspective of Mario riding on Yoshi’s back, the player was tasked with rampaging through “Jewelry Land” shooting at Goombas and Bullet Bills. This on-rails shooter did not receive critical acclaim, with a reviewer from Electronic Gaming Monthly saying that “after playing this for a while you will want to turn the SuperScope on yourself and end it all!” Let’s move on quickly!

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES) - 1995

Despite having a bit of a wobbly start as a franchise character, Yoshi totally redeemed himself in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island for the Super NES in 1995. The Yoshi clan was very much in the driving seat of this game, tasked with escorting a helpless Baby Mario to the end and pass him on to another Yoshi. In this game, the Yoshis sported a cheeky flutter jump and could also lay eggs and target them at enemies. Which, yeah, sure, why not.

As if all that wasn't enough, Yoshi could also transform into vehicles such as a train or a helicopter in certain sections of the game. While it was no pushover, this one was made more accessible as Yoshi could take any number of hits. Rather than offering a health bar like other platformers of its day, when Yoshi took damage, Baby Mario would float away in a bubble while a timer ticked down. You'd need to be quick to retrieve Baby Mario before he gets kidnapped and you lose a life.

This was 16-bit platforming at its very best and it received rave reviews at the time. It is said to have shifted around 4 million copies after release, with its unique graphic style and Super FX 2 chip-powered sprite scaling techniques. While we haven’t yet seen this game on the Wii Virtual Console, it was re-released in 2002 as Super Mario Advance 3: Yoshi's Island on the Game Boy Advance and was given away as part of the 3DS Ambassador Program. Worry not if you missed out, it will be re-released for the Wii U Virtual Console later this year.

Yoshi's Story (N64) - 1998

Known as Yoshi's Island 64 in the early stages of its development, this entry into the Yoshi canon did not live up to the high standard of the Super NES game before it. The platforming action in Yoshi's Story takes place within a pop-up storybook and has an interesting visual style, with pre-rendered 3D graphics used to craft worlds made from materials such as wood, fabrics and cardboard.

This game was a bit of a turning point for the character of Yoshi — no longer would he talk and hold conversations with other characters. The Yoshi clan would just make unintelligible noises from this point onwards. It's probably best not to dwell on the Yoshi singing too much here either. Critics of its day complained that the game was way too short, lacking in challenge and dull.

Super Mario Sunshine (Gamecube) - 2002

While Yoshi would not get to star in his own game during the GameCube’s lifespan, he would play a big part in Mario’s outing on the tropical Isle of Delfino in Super Mario Sunshine. Again as in Super Mario World, a fully grown Mario would ride a Yoshi to assist him in his adventure; as usual, Yoshi would use his tongue to gulp down enemies, but he could also eat fruit to change his colour and attack by spitting juice.

Yoshi's Universal Gravitation (GBA) - 2005

Also known as Yoshi's Topsy Turvy in North America, this was quite a unique game for the Game Boy Advance as the game’s cartridge contained a built-in tilt sensor (previously used in WarioWare: Twisted!) to add motion controls to the game. This was a platforming adventure with a similar look to Yoshi’s Story on the N64. The added dimension of tilting the GBA to rotate the environment around Yoshi to do things like help Yoshi run up walls, swing pendulums and leap large holes in the floor did not do much to win over reviewers of the day. It was thought to be repetitive and disappointingly short. Poor Yoshi, can’t he get a break?

Yoshi Touch & Go (DS) - 2005

Excitably also known as Catch! Touch! Yoshi! in Japan, Yoshi Touch & Go was a launch title for the Nintendo DS. This game was very much a bite-sized score attack game which some people at the time thought of as little more than a tech demo for the DS’ touch screen capabilities. In the first section of the game, the player would draw lines of clouds to guide Baby Mario safely past spikes and baddies.

The second part takes place as a side-scrolling platformer where a Yoshi escorts baby Mario to safety. Yoshi walks automatically and the player can tap him to make him jump and hold to hover. You can also draw cloud lines to use as platforms and target enemies with eggs. While some reviewers of the day did question the value of the game as a full-priced game, it was generally thought of as a fun score attack game which utilized the DS touch screen well.

Yoshi's Island DS (DS) - 2006

The outcry of Nintendo fans demanding a true sequel to Yoshi's Island on the Super NES was finally heard. In Yoshi's Island DS developer Artoon crafted a game which on the whole was received well by fans of the original game.

The core gameplay was similar to Yoshi’s island, but this time in addition to Baby Mario, Yoshi can also have the combined assistance of Baby Princess Peach, Baby Donkey Kong, Baby Wario and even Baby Bowser. Each has different abilities which need to be used in order to progress in the game. Artoon created a visual style which retained the pastel and crayon nature of the original.

On the whole, this entry into the Yoshi canon was quite well received, despite some issues aiming eggs due to the blind spot between the DSes dual screens.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii) - 2009

2009's New Super Mario Bros. Wii was to see Yoshi return to his traditional ride-on role as in the original Super Mario World. In addition to swallowing enemies as he did in the original, the flutter jump introduced in later Yoshi games is present here, too.

Yoshi got another starring role in 2012's Wii U launch title, New Super Mario Bros. U. Classic ride-on Yoshi is present and correct, but to spice things up this time there are baby Yoshis which can be carried by players. Each baby Yoshi has their own special ability based on their colour, such as blowing bubbles to ensnare enemies, lighting up dark areas or inflating like a balloon.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii) - 2010

Yoshi would unfortunately take a back seat during the outstanding Super Mario Galaxy in 2007. Nintendo more than made up for this omission in 2010's stellar Super Mario Galaxy 2, which built on the high standard of the original with the addition of our chum, who is used to great effect in this game.

When Mario rides Yoshi in this game, the player can point at certain objects in the game and manipulate them using Yoshi's tongue. His stretchy tongue can also swallow enemies as usual, pull levers and even be used to swing over gaps.

Power-up fruits further extend the Yoshi fun in this game. For example, the Blimp Fruit puffs Yoshi up so he can float in the air, and with the use of the Bulb Berry Yoshi can easily discover secrets in the game. Our favourite of these power-ups is the Dash Pepper — when Yoshi eats one of these bad boys he'll run like the clappers, even on water and up walls!

Other Appearances

Of course Yoshi has popped up in many other Nintendo games, such as the Mario Kart series and assorted sports games as a playable character. But there are lots of really bizarre cameos too; one of our favourites is his appearance as a desk toy on one of the levels of Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes on the GameCube. When shot, the toy will perform Yoshi's trademark yelp!

One of the strangest incarnations of Yoshi was in the utterly bizarre Super Mario Bros. Movie, where he was depicted as a 3ft tall dinosaur. The animatronics used were state-of-the-art for the time, and this was arguably one of the few good things about the movie. Sure, Yoshi didn't look like the Yoshi we know and love, but when compared to Bowser or Toad... well, you see where we are going with this!

The Future of Yoshi

Yoshi's New Island is coming to the 3DS later this week, which looks set to return the series back to the style of Yoshi's Super NES island outing. Be sure to check out our interview with Nintendo's Takashi Tezuka on bringing Yoshi's New Island to the 3DS while you wait for our review.

Of course, Nintendo still isn't finished with Yoshi either. Following on from the outstanding Kirby's Epic Yarn on the Wii in 2010, developer Good-Feel has been tasked with giving the yarn treatment to Yoshi.

Yarn Yoshi is currently in development for the Wii U and it looks set to be a corker. Using a similar graphical style to Kirby's epic outing, Yoshi is transported into a world of textiles and fabrics for the first time in glorious HD. We're hoping that this game might get a release later this year. Prepare for more news in E3 2014.


So there we have the history of Yoshi. It's certainly been a bumpy roller-coaster ride but it looks like the best is yet to come. Let us know what your favourite Yoshi game is and if you are excited about Yoshi's New Island and Yarn Yoshi.

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User Comments (53)

Lance168

#3

Lance168 said:

One question. Yoshi first appeared on the SNES in SMW, then his next game(Yoshi) was on the NES?

unrandomsam

#5

unrandomsam said:

I didn't like Epic Yarn (I did like Kirby's Adventure and Warioland : The Shake Dimension though). I wished in New Super Mario Bros Wii you could use Yoshi on any level other than castles. (Like in Super Mario World).

Luffymcduck

#8

Luffymcduck said:

Yoshi's Island is one of my favourites of all time. YI DS was a fun sequel, not as good as the original but fun. Yoshi's Story was fun when I was a kid. Then I played Yoshi's Island and found similar game mechanics done miles better. Universal Gravitation, very average, I've sold mine years ago.

Few good Yoshi games, lots of weird or average ones. Yoshi's Safari actually has some nostalcig value for me, even though I played it on emulator (don't know a single person who has that SNES gun).

Kirk

#10

Kirk said:

And in every incarnation until Yoshi's New Island he had relatively normal sized feet as opposed to utterly over sized and stupid looking boat/log feet...

It's the little things, you know. It's like the artist, designer, quality assurance etc on Yoshi's New Island just didn't give a flying f**k.

Shame really because SMW2:YI is one of the best platformers ever made.

Whopper744

#11

Whopper744 said:

My good old all time favorite game character. I used to pick him in every party, kart, or sporting gaming there was. Got all of his own games, and had the multicolored Yoshi bean bag characters back in the 90s (yea I was a little spoiled).
My favorite Yoshi game? If Super Mario World counts, that, or Yoshis Island. Least? Not sure, but I was disappointed in touch and go. I expected to be able to bet the story, not watch baby Mario get taken and that be the end. Good score attack game, but that bugged me for whatever reason. Ha

ULTRA-64

#13

ULTRA-64 said:

What waste of ip, yoshi should be one of the great Nintendo characters. Such a shame he hasn't had one original game other than puzzles to front.
I think him being ignored in Mario 3d world is close to criminal, he would have been loved my kids and retro fans alike, added to variety, and his ommission is one of the main reasons I believe that game was rushed and incomplete (sorry if you loved it) and he represents all the under used ip Nintendo does NOTHING with .....oh wait there might be yawn yoshi coming......ANOTHER 2d platfomer with nothing new but a change of texture. Rant over , sorry =(

Dpishere

#15

Dpishere said:

Having played Yoshi's Island when I was a kid I am very much looking forward to Yoshi's New Island. Just waiting for a review.

bizcuthammer

#16

bizcuthammer said:

@Lance168 Unlike now, when Nintendo basically quits making games for a systems several months before its successor is released, they used to keep making games for previous generations of hardware for several years after the 'next gen' console was released. This was prior to the Gamecube. Nowadays, Nintendo can barely even be bothered to release a new game for a console a year BEFORE its successor comes out. I'm looking at you, Wii.

electrolite77

#18

electrolite77 said:

A patchy history sure, but he starred in the two best 2D platformers of all-time, games that even Nintendo themselves haven't managed to top. The N64 game was fun too as long as you were fruit-chasing. Touch and Go was very frustrating IMHO.

Goginho

#20

Goginho said:

Man, looking back at Yoshi's Story, I just gotta say how awesomely fitting that game is on the 3DS. I mean, it is set up as a pop-up storybook afterall.

Maybe after these next two Yoshi games get released, since Yarn Yoshi is most likely the closest to taking on Yoshi's Story's idea, we get a switcheroo and have an Island game on a home console and the other kind (if it gets a 3D-like visual treatment) on a 3D handheld :)

SphericalCrusher

#21

SphericalCrusher said:

Didn't get the chance to finish reading all of it, but I will later. Good read so far! I always love these type of articles on NintendoLife! Gotta love Yoshi!

datamonkey

#23

datamonkey said:

SMW is 2D platforming perfection. It will always have a special place in my heart and a game I spent an entire summer playing!

Mask0Gears

#24

Mask0Gears said:

The Original Yoshi's Island is one of my top 10 games of all time... let's hope Yoshi's new Island lives up to it's great legacy!

TO OUR FAVORITE MULTICOLORED DINOSAUR!

Yomerodes

#25

Yomerodes said:

@Lance168

Back in the day (and even today, although not with Nintendo consoles) a system was able to survive for a couple of years after the next generation arrived. While uncommon, this made possible that franchises that were created for a certain console, resulted in sequels and ports for older consoles, Sonic is another good example, created for the second Sega console (Genesis/MegaDrive), it was popular enough for a couple of Sonic games to be released on the first Sega console, the Master System.

SuperMalleo

#26

SuperMalleo said:

Nintendo said Yoshi was impossible to be implemented on a NES game. However, if you look at the unlicensed Super Mario World port, it IS possible to ride Yoshi. So, Hummer Team did what Nintendidn't.

NintyMan

#27

NintyMan said:

Yoshi is one adorable character. Yoshi's Island is obviously his best game excluding secondary appearances like Super Mario World. Yoshi's Story may have been panned, but I also really enjoyed that one and the music for that is classic. I really didn't like Yoshi's Island DS, however, because I found it to be frustrating halfway through the game. I may play it again to give it a second chance, but it was one of the few Mario games that I never beat.

As for Yoshi's future, it seems to me that Yarn Yoshi clearly has potential, while I'm afraid Yoshi's New Island may ultimately underwhelm. Good-Feel was the perfect studio to make a Yoshi game, and while Kirby's Epic Yarn was beautiful on Wii, Yarn Yoshi will be eye-popping on Wii U thanks to HD. It should also have an amazing soundtrack, as Good-Feel has a terrific record of composing wonderful soundtracks for Kirby's Epic Yarn and Wario Land: Shake It, so overall I'm really looking forward to Yarn Yoshi.

Dezsi

#29

Dezsi said:

I remember getting Yoshi's story — after having known him from the classic SMW and the incredible YI — and being utterly disappointed, disgusted, even.

WanderFan91

#30

WanderFan91 said:

I love Yoshi, he's a great character! :) Many of the games he's starred in were great and/or fun to play (especially Yoshi's Cookie and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island), with a few exceptions along the way (Yoshi's Island DS, imo; it's passable at best as a standalone but terrible as a sequel at worst). Still, the good outweigh the bad as far as I'm concerned, and I highly await the arrival of Yoshi's New Island and eventually Yarn Yoshi. :)

I never played Yoshi's Safari nor Yoshi's Topsy Turvy (I've often heard middling opinions on these two).

MeloMan

#31

MeloMan said:

No mention of the Yoshi cameo in Super Mario 64 under "Other Appearances?" :)

DazzaAdmin

#32

Dazza said:

@MeloMan I wasn't really intending it to be an exhaustive list of cameos. That's a good one though! :)

JaxonH

#33

JaxonH said:

My body is ready for Yoshi's New Island! But I'm REALLY excited for more news on Yarn Yoshi- I suspect this will be the Year of Yoshi, seeing as there are 2 potential Yoshi games releasing this year, as well as a limited edition 3DS console.

Yosher

#35

Yosher said:

While I honestly don't think Nintendo will ever be able to top the SNES original (or the GBA remake at that, since that one has 6 new levels), I'm always super stoked whenever a new Yoshi game is announced! Being the Yoshi fan I am, this was a great read for me. The only truly bad Yoshi game in my book is Universal Gravitation (SO much missed potential due to lacking tilt controls). I do hope Yoshi's New Island can get close to the level of awesomeness as the original, but I doubt it'll top it. Either way, I just can't wait to play it on my shiny new Yoshi 3DS XL! And since I'll be transferring my old 3DS stuff from it, I'll have the GBA Ambassador game on it too. Hooray for Yoshi games on Yoshi systems! Now I just need a Yoshi 3DS XL protect case.

As for Yarn Yoshi.. why did Nintendo even mention it last year if they were gonna stay silent on it for so long afterwards? That leads me to believe the game has been cancelled, due to it not seeming like such a priority project right now. Come on Nintendo, don't break a Yoshi fan's heart!

Marioman64

#38

Marioman64 said:

yoshi's story is one of my favorite n64 games. multiple paths through story mode, WAY challenging to find 3 hearts in each level to unlock the 4th level of each word, AND the even harder challenge of getting all 30 melons in a level. whoever thinks it is not challenging has not played all of it, or just played the 1st level of each world.

babyguess

#42

babyguess said:

Month of Yoshi? More like bring on Year of Yoshi!

Yoshi 3DS XL Limited Edition (3/14)
Yoshi's New Island (3/14)
$10 Yoshi eShop Card (coming soon) - http://www.nintendo.com/giftcards
Club Nintendo Yoshi Game Download
Club Nintendo Yoshi Figurine? Bring it on!
Yarn Yoshi (still in development? hopefully more announcement at E3?)
Super Smash Bros. character announcement? (next Nintendo Direct?)
Dr. Mario, Dr Luigi, next Dr. Yoshi? works for me!
Yoshi U? :p

Gamer83

#43

Gamer83 said:

Looking forward to New Island, just a couple more days. Probably won't be as good as the original but I'm still expecting it to be a really solid platformer.

TeeJay

#47

TeeJay said:

"...Yarn Yoshi is in development for the Wii U and it looks set to be a corker." I can't even tell what you guys are trying to say in your articles sometimes, Nintendolife. Is being a "corker" a good or bad thing? Surrounding context implies good...I think?

SuperiorYoshi87

#49

SuperiorYoshi87 said:

I said something on another article awhile back about how Yoshi certainly deserves his own year and he does. People who say he shouldn't get one are fools, he's easily one of the most recognizable Nintendo characters next to the Mario Bros and Pikachu. Hell people who don't even play Nintendo games know who Yoshi is, my grandmother knew who Yoshi is. A Yoshi egg is just a symbolic with Nintendo as a question mark block or the Triforce. His history in single games is a little spotty but he's had more single player outings than Luigi has. Year of Yoshi needs to happen or I've lost a little faith in Nintendo.

SparkOfSpirit

#52

SparkOfSpirit said:

No mention of Yoshi's water allergy in Sunshine? He was so disappointing in that game, just like the game itself was.

You guys also forgot to mention Smash Bros.! We're still waiting for him to be confirmed for the new one.

Nice article!

MrMario02

#53

MrMario02 said:

Also Yoshi took inspiration from Devil World's character tamagon who also ate his enemies.

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