Considered after the development of Super Mario Bros., Yoshi's early design differs greatly from the finished appearanceShigeru Miyamoto stated that Nintendo had wanted Mario to have a dinosaur companion ever since the first release 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. 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 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 to make up for this limitation, the raccoon and frog power-ups. Once the more powerful Super NES was released, Miyamoto was finally able to implement Yoshi into the series, putting him into the video game Super Mario World. Yoshi proved to be popular in his debut, which caused the next game in the series, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island, to focus on his species.
The version of Yoshi seen in the Super Mario Bros. film was made using a 3-foot-tall (0.91 m) animatronic dinosaur. He was designed in the film by Dave Nelson. It had nearly 200 feet of cable and hundreds of moving parts inside of it, and was controlled by nine puppeteers. The body is cable-controlled, while the head is radio-controlled. Nelson described the overall process as being "difficult." The creation of Yoshi was handled by a company independent from the filmmakers.
Yoshi's first appearance in 1990's Super Mario WorldYoshi has a variety of abilities that make him stand out amongst other characters in the Mario series. He has a prehensile tongue that can extend a surprising distance, allowing him to eat almost anything; anything that can't be eaten can be spit out at enemies. In some games the tongue can also be used as a grappling hook to pull objects or access otherwise out-of-reach areas. Yoshi is also capable of laying distinctive spotted eggs after swallowing objects, which can then be thrown at enemies or objects; eggs are in fact the primary "logo" of Yoshi in multiplayer games. Yoshi is also capable of forming an egg around himself and rolling around. By rapidly flapping his arms and legs, Yoshi can hover in midair or even gain height (depending on the game), this "flutter jump" makes difficult jumps much easier to accomplish. Yoshi is also a heavy user of the ground pound, dropping from the air onto targets. Yoshi's large nose allows him to detect hidden collectibles by smell, and aside from kicks and tail whips, is Yoshi's main instrument of close-range combat.
Yoshis come in a variety of colours, including green, red, blue, yellow, cyan, pink, purple, black, white, orange, and brown. In some games the colour of a Yoshi provides additional abilities: in Super Mario World, Red Yoshis can breathe fire, Blue Yoshis have wings, and Yellow Yoshis produce damaging dust clouds on landing. In other games, eating fruit changes a Yoshi's colour and provides an ability; Yoshis in Super Mario Sunshine can spit fruit juice to defeat enemies and create platforms, while those in Super Mario Galaxy 2 can use fruit to gain super speed, inflate like a balloon, or produce a platform-enabling glow. Yoshis of various colours appear often in multiplayer games as alternate choices, which may or may not have tweaked stats.
In Super Mario World, Super Mario Sunshine, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and New Super Mario Bros. U, bongos (or other appropriate percussion instrument) are added to the level's background music whenever a player rides Yoshi; also, in New Super Mario Bros. U, a choir is added to the level's background music whenever a player is holding a baby Yoshi. While being ridden, Yoshi acts as an extra hit point; taking damage will cause Mario (or whoever is riding Yoshi) to fly off. This makes Yoshi start to panic and run around haphazardly until remounted.
Although he was introduced on the SNES in 1990, Yoshi was also the star of two self-titled games for the original NES released in '92 and '93: Yoshi and Yoshi's Cookie, respectively. Both of these games were released for the Game Boy as well. He also appeared as a supporting cast member in Mario is Missing for NES, SNES and MS-DOS in 1993. Yoshi appeared in Super Mario 64 as a non-playable character who could be seen upon completion of the game. He also appeared in the DS remake as a playable (and starring) character, and in Super Mario Sunshine where he could be ridden on by Mario in the same fashion as in Super Mario World. However in this game, he is portrayed as a tropical Yoshi who changes to different colors after eating different fruits. Yoshi appears in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and his role in the game is very similar to his original role in Super Mario World. A number of different colored Yoshis can be obtained by hitting blocks throughout the game. He can then be ridden by characters in the game, though his color no longer represents special abilities. Yoshi also appears in the game Super Mario Galaxy 2, where he can also float across the air for a limited period of time by fluttering his feet at an amazing speed. Power-ups allow him to run up walls; turn into a ballon; and glow, lighting platforms that are only tangible when visible. Yoshi was also intended to appear in the original Super Mario Galaxy but was removed because, according to Satoru Iwata in an Iwata Asks session, it would be "too much all at once." Yoshi also appears in New Super Mario Bros. U with the same gameplay mechanics from its Wii predecessor.
In the Gamecube title Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Mario rescues a Yoshi egg that hatches and joins his team during the third chapter of the game entitled "Of Glitz And Glory". The player can then name the Yoshi character. The color of the Yoshi changes depending on the amount of time that passes between rescuing the egg and the egg hatching.
Yoshi is a playable character in all three titles in the Super Smash Bros. series. Contrary to his lightweight and speedy portrayal in other games, the Smash Bros. version of Yoshi is a rather heavy character with strong attacks, quick movements, and a difficult-to-interrupt second jump; on the downside, his attacks tend to leave him vulnerable if they miss, and outside his second jump his recovery is almost nonexistent. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Yoshi's Final Smash is called the "Super Dragon" and by using it, he grows wings and is able to breathe fire and fly for a short time. In the Subspace Emissary, Yoshi is awakened from his sleep by various Subspace enemies and teams up with Link and other Smash Bros. characters to defeat Tabuu and save the world.
If you’ve ever played a Mario game, you’ll know one thing: there is no greater joy than hitting a question block and finding a Yoshi egg. Nothing else comes close: fire-flowers, frog-suits, invincibility stars… not one. Why? Because Yoshi is the ultimate side-kick.
—20 Top Video Game Sidekicks Of All Time, WhatCulture.com
Yoshi is one of the more recognizable characters in the Mario series. Yoshi is also featured in a myriad of Mario merchandise; he is the subject of toys, shirts, and figures. Yoshi also appeared in two of the McDonald's Happy Meal promotions of Mario toys which only starred Mario, Donkey Kong, and Yoshi himself. In a poll conducted in 2008, Yoshi was voted as the third-favorite video game character in Japan, with Cloud Strife and Mario placing second and first, respectively.Gametrailers has created a special tribute video for Yoshi for the release of Super Mario Galaxy 2.
Yoshi ranked at #1 on WhatCulture's list of "20 Top Video Game Sidekicks Of All Time".Cheat Code Central listed Yoshi as the third best sidekick in video games, commenting that he's one of the most adorable video game characters.ScrewAttack listed Yoshi as 2nd on their top 10 Mario characters.GameSpy ranked Yoshi as the seventh best videogame sidekick, listing him over Luigi by reasoning only Yoshi can pull off being green and still be cool.Complex placed Yoshi at fourth among "The 25 Most Kickass Dragons in Video Games", adding "Yoshi would have to be one of the best sidekicks of all time". Australia's Official Nintendo Magazine called Yoshi a "cute, trustworthy, a plumber's best friend" and compared him to a loyal dog. Yoshi is ranked 52nd on GamesRadar's Top 100 video game heroes. A recent issue of the Guinness Book of World Records included Yoshi among their list of the "Top 50 Video Game Characters of All Time" with Yoshi being the second highest-ranked Mario character with Mario being the first.