Ever since Yoshi made his debut in 1991’s Super Mario World, there has been some debate among Nintendo fans as to whether a particular animation in the game depicts Mario telling Yoshi to get something or punching the green dinosaur in the head. Well, we now have official confirmation that Mario was indeed committing an act of animal abuse.

In a recent interview on Nintendo’s official site, developers Takashi Tezuka and Shigefumi Hino reflected on their time working on Super Mario World and the creation of Yoshi. According to Tezuka, Yoshi’s origins stem from Shigeru Miyamoto’s desire to see Mario ride a horse in-game.

“When we were making [Super Mario Bros. 3], he drew a picture of Mario riding a horse and had put it up on a wall next to where he sits,” said Tezuka. “When I saw that, I thought, ‘I guess he wants Mario to ride something.’ So, when we were making Super Mario World, we had this ‘dinosaur land’ concept, and I had Hino draw reptile type art.”

“Initially,” Hino added, “the keyword that I had was ‘horse,’ so I imagined something quite later and, for the time being, drew a large lizard type creature.” It was only later that Tezuka decided that a reptile-looking creature would seem out of place in a Mario game and drew a rough sketch of a cuter creature that would eventually become Yoshi.

The two designers then go on to address the punching animation.

“Lots of people think that while Mario is pointing his finger forward, he’s saying ‘Go,’ and Yoshi’s tongue comes out,” said Hino. “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,” Hino continued, “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.'”

So there you have it: Mario’s mouth may be saying “go,” but his fist is saying “shoot that tongue out or there’s another one where that came from.” No wonder Yoshi ran away so much …

(Via: Nintendo, Kotaku)