Traces of Beta Yoshi's Genetic Material Can Still be Found in Super Mario World

Traces of Beta Yoshi's Genetic Material Can Still be Found in Super Mario World

The Nintendo Gigaleak reminds us immortality through our offspring is possible. (And potentially disturbing.)

Nintendo recently experienced a huge data leak, an event that's since been coined the "Gigaleak." The spilled data contains stacks of old character designs, source codes, beta soundtracks, and much more for games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 64, and Star Fox 2.

The Gigaleak is extremely controversial. On one hand, the data is fascinating, and it gives us a deep look into how our favorite games were made. Pokemon leaks are common enough that an entire community has built up around "Lost Numbers." On the other hand, it's still stolen property that's full of confidential information. It's a muddled situation that's hard to take a stand on. Personally, I'm just annoyed we'll never have context for the recovered sprite art of Mario characters hanging out in an apartment building. Peach and Bowser are seemingly shacked up together while Mario bunks alone, and Toad is a chain smoker. Listen to his voice. We knew it all along.

In particular, the leaked sprite sheet for the beta version of Yoshi has simultaneously delighted and horrified Nintendo fans. When Mario's dino-mount was first introduced in 1990's Super Mario World, we easily fell in love with the cuddly reptile's bulbous snout and cute little boots. Beta Yoshi, however, is more anatomically akin to the theropods that ran around the jungles of the late cretaceous. He's lanky, beaky, and more akin to a plucked turkey than the round friend we know today.

Your therapist might tell you, "Beta Yoshi isn't real. He can't hurt you." They're only half right. Beta Yoshi is indeed a fossil that only exists in ancient Nintendo data—but he left small pieces of himself scattered around the final build of Super Mario World. As for whether those pieces can hurt you, well, let's just say if you're a Koopa Troopa, your life is forfeit.

If you want to find the remnants of Beta Yoshi, you needn't look far. Boot up Super Mario World—easy enough, as it's available everywhere, including Nintendo Switch Online—and visit Star Road. Each level on Super Mario World's heavenly highway supplies Mario with a baby Yoshi. When the whelp eats five enemies, it grows into an adult Yoshi with unique innate powers. Blue Yoshi grows wings when he eats a Koopa Troopa, Red Yoshi spits fire, and so on.

Multicolored Yoshis are useful, but have you ever taken a good look at the infants that hatch in front of Mario? They unsettled my friends and I when we played Super Mario World as kids. We called the babies "pelicans" because their beaky faces and distended guts resemble the pouched beaks of the aquatic bird.

It's the baby Yoshis's "beaks" that I came back to when I saw Beta Yoshi's long schnozz. There is certainly a resemblance between this lost parent and its offspring. It suggests Nintendo designed the Yoshi babes to resemble their Beta sire but forgot to update the babies's sprites after Yoshi received his final design.

That, or Nintendo didn't bother updating the baby Yoshis's sprites beyond giving them a little pair of boots. It probably figured there was no need since the nightmare ends quickly; again, baby Yoshis just need to eat five enemies to grow up big and strong.

By the way, you can make the process more interesting by feeding the baby Yoshi foes bigger than itself. Observe how the enemies struggle in vain against their horrific fate. Koopa Troopas put on an especially dramatic show as they're swallowed alive. Dear God, why am I fascinated by this macabre demonstration? What's wrong with me?

Nintendo's strange, squat depictions of baby Yoshi still appear in games as recently as Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. His sharp overbite has been rounded to hide his theropod roots, but the Gigaleak proves history rarely stays buried for long. Now that Beta Yoshi is out of his cage and galloping around social media, I encourage you to take a moment and think about the children that spewed forth from his long, long loins. They lived through the purge and grew up to aid Mario—the single purpose they were born for. They're survivors.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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