Last night, I realized a potentially unsettling truth about myself, something that perhaps a woman of my age and relative maturity should not admit in mixed company but here it is: I love Yoshi. Yes, I'm referring to the bouncy green dinosaur with the weird little shoes who lets a small Italian man subjugate him and occasionally force him to leap off of tall objects due to said little man's ineptitude and general malfeasance. Decades after our Nintendo-based affair should have ended, I still heart Yoshi. If I had a locker, his photo would be in it and if I still had that Trapper Keeper, one might just find the words "Mrs. Liz Yoshi" etched into its cover. And I'm not ashamed! (Okay, I'm definitely ashamed, but we're all friends here, right?)
In my defense, though, just look at the little guy. Those big innocent eyes, those chipmunk cheeks, the rakish way he wears the ridges on his back, the way his tiny T.rex arms just kind of hang there for no reason, like his hands are wet and he doesn't have a towel. I ask you, what's not to love?
It was this past weekend when my husband fixed our Wii that I finally realized my passion for the Yosh still burned hot. We sat down to play Mario Party -- yes, we're adults and we enjoy our pursuit of coins and shiny stars -- and as always, I selected Yoshi as my character. Suddenly, I was transported back in time (not literally -- Wiis are impressive, but not that impressive) to my youth when I spent hours and hours playing Super Mario and watching Yoshi work his little dinosaur ass off to save that ungrateful plumber level after level after level. There was Yoshi, eating apples with that unsettlingly long tongue of his, smooshing shells with his big clod-hopper feet and gulping down bees WITH NO THOUGHT FOR HIS OWN SAFETY! This was a fictional video game character worth loving -- he was like a little prince, trapped in a really, really weird costume. With clown shoes on.
The thing I love most about Yoshi is his enthusiasm. Grab a star for him in Mario Party and he is -- quite literally -- climbing through the air and doing backflips, making those pre-pubescent girls on the U.S. Olympic team weep with jealous rage. Yoshi defies gravity and he defies us not to adore him.
I fear I may love Yoshi too much, though, because I find myself unwilling to put him in risky situations. Which really kind of throws a wrench in the whole "playing a children's games" thing. Is it safe for him to drive the little scooter when he obviously has no hands to grip the steering wheel? I don't know. Is it safe for him to stand face to face with Donkey Kong when Mr. Kong so obviously has serious rage issues? I don't know. Can Yoshi really trust Waluigi when they have to team up to avoid a lava flow? I don't know, but it worries me. Actually, what worries me more is that I'm worried about it in the first place but that's really between me and my pharmacist.
Worst of all, I feel like I let Yoshi down everytime I lose with him. I get my ass kicked nine games out of ten with Mario Party (did I mention it's a kids game?) and everytime, Yoshi just sits down on the ground and looks distraught. He even cries big cartoon tears! Sure, sometimes I want to tell him to man up and grow a pair -- of what, I don't know. Hands maybe? -- and not be such a sore loser but then I just look at those little cheeks and kick myself for not coming through on the poor creature's behalf. In fact, I think that motivates me even more. I know for certain that victory is all the better when our team of human and dinosaur wins out. Certainly that accounted for the bizarre victory dance I did around the living room last night, waving my Wiimote around and yelling, "Who's the best little green dinosaur in the world? You are, you are!" while pointing at the TV. You had to be there -- it was weird. My cat had to phone her therapist.
But enough about me. Are there any video game characters you adore? (Let me hear it for the chocobos!)