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YumeTwins Kawaii Culture BlogFun Facts About Video Games: Nintendo Edition!

Fun Facts About Video Games: Nintendo Edition!

By James Lau
February 28, 2023
A Mario figurine among other Nintendo figurines inlcuding Bowser, Goomba and Piranha Plants. Fun fact about video games: Nintendo is very popular.

Everyone can recognize these iconic Nintendo characters when they see them! But did you know that some underwent many changes over the years? Let’s look at the fun facts about video games by Nintendo and their characters!

Mario’s original name was “Jumpman”!

When Donkey Kong arrived in arcades in 1981, the character we now know as Mario was called Jumpman. Game designer Shigeru Miyamoto named him Jumpman because of his ability to jump high in the game. 

A Mario figurine in the grass, holding a Koopa shell. Fun fact about video games: Mario was originally known as Jumpman.
Mario’s original name of “Jumpman”. Image via Shutterstock

The character was later renamed Mario, after the landlord of the building where Nintendo of America was at the time. Designers added his iconic mustache to distinguish his nose from his face. This was challenging to render with the limited graphics of the time.

Donkey Kong was a villain!

In the first Donkey Kong game, the villain and main antagonist was the original Donkey Kong himself. The game’s storyline involves the gorilla Donkey Kong, who has escaped from his owner, the villainous Jumpman (who later became known as Mario). Because he disliked “Jumpman” so much, he kidnapped his girlfriend, Pauline. 

A Donkey Kong figurine next to a Donkey Kong Country cartridge.
Donkey Kong was originally the bad guy! Image via Shutterstock

Jumpman must navigate several levels and obstacles to rescue Pauline and defeat Donkey Kong at the top of a construction site. So, in the first Donkey Kong game, the titular character is the villain.

Kirby was initially a placeholder character.

When game designer Masahiro Sakurai first developed Kirby’s Dream Land for the Game Boy, he created Kirby as a placeholder character. At the same time, he worked on developing a more detailed protagonist. 

However, Sakurai grew fond of Kirby’s simple design and eventually kept him as the main character. Kirby’s cute and approachable design has become one of the most recognizable in video game history.

A big figurine of Kirby in a chef's hat at a cafe.
Kirby’s name comes from an American lawyer who helped out Nintendo in a bind. Image via Shutterstock

Kirby’s name comes from the American lawyer, John Kirby, who defended Nintendo in a lawsuit brought against them by Universal Studios over the similarities between Donkey Kong and King Kong. During the trial, Kirby argued that Universal’s copyright claim was baseless, and he won the case for Nintendo. 

In Japan, Kirby’s name is “Hoshi no Kirby,” which roughly translates to “Kirby of the Stars.” However, Nintendo localized the game for a Western audience; the development team named the character after John Kirby to show their gratitude to him for helping them win the lawsuit.

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People were confused about Link’s name!

In the original Legend of Zelda game for the NES, players entered their names for its protagonist. Name entries were standard in early video games where the player could customize the character’s name to create a more immersive experience. As a result, the player character didn’t have a name, leading to confusion among players.

The main character of the Legend of Zelda franchise has been known as Link since the release of The Adventure of Link and other titles in the series. This is now the character’s official name and is used in all the following games.

A long figurine of Link, against a white background.
It took a while for Link to find his identity! Image via Shutterstock

In addition to his name, Link has become an iconic video game character known for his bravery, heroism, and agility. He typically wields a sword and shield and wears his signature green tunic and hat.

Over the years, Link has become one of Nintendo’s most beloved characters and has starred in some of the most acclaimed games in video game history. He is one of the medium’s most recognizable and influential characters. As a result, his name is synonymous with the Legend of Zelda franchise.

Fun facts about video games: A real animal inspired Yoshi!

Several animals inspired Yoshi’s design, but the primary inspiration was the Japanese concept of a “tatsu“. A tatsu is a mythical dragon-like creature. Character designer, Shigefumi Hino, used the tapir–a squatting animal with a long tongue–to inspire Yoshi’s appearance.

A Yoshi figurine on top of a black Nintendo DS near a blue wall. Fun fact about video games: Yoshi is inspired by a tapir.
The real-life animal, the tapir, inspired Yoshi’s design! Image via Shutterstock

He added a saddle to the creature’s back to differentiate him from a real tapir. Yoshi’s overall design was unique and distinguishable from other animal characters in video games at the time. The character’s ability to swallow and spit out enemies became a vital game mechanic! Because of this, Yoshi became a popular and memorable character in the Mario series.

Samus Aran was one of the first female protagonists in gaming!

Samus Aran is the protagonist of the Metroid video game series. Created by Nintendo game designer Makoto Kano. She first appeared in the original Metroid game in 1986. She is usually the hero who saves the galaxy from dangerous alien threats!

One of the most significant aspects of Samus’s character is that she was one of the first female protagonists in video game history. Her gender surprised players when they finished the original Metroid game and learned that the character they had been playing was, in fact, a woman.

Samus is displayed on a Nintendo DS as a victor in Super Smash. Fun fact about video games: she is the first female video game character.
Samus is one of the first female video game characters. Image via Shutterstock

This reveal was a groundbreaking moment for the gaming industry and helped to pave the way for more female representation in video games. Samus’s backstory is also an essential part of her character. Her childhood was bleak; she lost her parents during a space pirate invasion. Fortunately, the Chozo, an alien race, took her in as one of their own.

The Chozo taught Samus how to fight and equipped her with advanced technology, including her iconic power suit. Samus eventually becomes a bounty hunter, using her skills and techniques to take down dangerous threats across the galaxy.

Over the years, Samus has become one of the most iconic and beloved characters in video game history. She has starred in several successful games in the Metroid series, and her design and character have inspired countless other female protagonists in video games.

Samus is a trailblazer for female representation in the gaming industry. As such, she remains an important and influential character today. Did you know about these facts? Which of these fun facts about video games was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

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