Editor James Law investigates the mystery of Yoshi, and explores the enigmatic creature’s possible incarnations. What on earth is he?
Our friend Yoshi.
Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
It’s not a dinosaur, so don’t start.
Dinosaurs don’t have huge bulbous noses. A wise old sage once came to me in a dream, and told me, ‘there is no way that the fictional character Yoshi is canonically a dinosaur, because dinosaurs do not have huge bulbous noses’. Or something to that effect. Neck spikes do not a dinosaur make. Also, correct me if i’m wrong, but I do believe before they went extinct, dinosaurs never wore shoes. Yoshi, on the other hand, does wear shoes. He even polishes them. No dinosaur has ever polished a shoe before. It’s science.
So, now that the ludicrous ‘dinosaur’ theory has been put to bed, let’s go through the possible states of being that this Nintendo icon could potentially inhabit.
A popular fan theory is that Yoshi is a horse. Mario, in the popular SNES title Super Mario World, uses him as a ‘meat shield’ and rideable companion, much like humans in the semi-present day do with horses. He has a built-in saddle, making him even more functional as a horse than a real horse, and he has a huge nose, again mirroring the equine mammal we know and love. Despite these compelling arguments, I remain less than convinced, though. Sure, you can ride him like a horse, but the similarities don’t go much further than that.
Yoshi has all the tools required from your brand spanking new mountain bike. Check out those thick wheels, comparable to Yoshi’s shoe soles – a real off-roader. That grass doesn’t look smooth, but Yoshi glides over it with relative ease, taking Mario to his destination.
He hovers. Sometimes.
Okay, hear me out. We regular humans can’t ride chickens, but what is there to tell us that in-universe, Mario isn’t a lot smaller than us humans are in real life? We see him face off against formidable armies of turtles and moles, both of which appear far closer in size to Mario than they do when compared with a real person. Mario is not a human as we know them – here he is next to Mayor Pauline, political elite of New Donk City (and Mario’s ex-girlfriend), upon their reunion in Super Mario Odyssey. Look at that comparison. Mario is positively chicken-sized.
With this in mind, it makes a huge amount of sense to define Yoshi as the Mario universe’s equivalent of a chicken. When Mario is not riding him, he runs around wildly and aimlessly… remind you of a certain headless animal? He’s disposable, with the mustachioed plumber (who is the size of your house’s water pipes) dropping him down bottomless pits for a bit of extra elevation. In a similar vein, we use chickens as our disposable playthings, dropping them down the bottomless pit of factory farming and cheeky Nandos, as well as doing that amusing thing where their heads stay in the same place when you tilt their bodies to the left and right.
And let’s be honest, if you were small enough, you’d ride around on a chicken, right? That’d be so damn fun.
Also, he lays eggs.
Yoshi can be whatever you want him to be. Sure, a couple of the theories proposed may be a stretch to some, but that’s the beauty of such an ambiguous entity. One thing we can all agree on, however, is Yoshi as a companion. A mate. A buddy. A pal. A helping hand in the best and worst of times for Mario. He’ll do things not even Luigi does (eat your enemies whole, ingest dangerous herbs to run at obscene speeds, and more). Whether he’s an animal, vegetable or mineral, he’s an adorable and great friend. That’s something whose value can’t be overestimated.