Over on Nintendo’s official Japanese website, an interview was recently conducted featuring Super Mario World’s original developers. During the interview, various anecdotes about the development were discussed, including one concerning Mario and Yoshi and what exactly Mario is doing in the animation when Yoshi sticks his tongue out. [Thanks, Kotaku.]
It was never entirely clear whether Mario was pointing or bopping Yoshi on the head when he moves his hand, and the graphical limitations of the SNES certainly didn’t help. However, the answer to this mystery is the more violent of the two: Mario was originally hitting Yoshi on the head to surprise the dinosaur into sticking his tongue out. This was later changed to the pointing gesture, as seen in official artwork like the image above, but the in-game sprites still made it fairly unclear.
Shigefumi Hino, Super Mario World’s character graphic designer and creator of Yoshi, explained further on the subject of the animation:
“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.
What’s more, there’s an added ‘bop’ sound. However, it seemed like people would say ‘Poor Yoshi,’ so that’s why it became that Mario is saying ‘Go.”
To read more from the interview, you can go here.
Super Mario World originally released for the SNES. It later released on the Game Boy Advance, Wii, and Wii U.