What Animal Is Yoshi? 13 Video Game Characters And Their Real-Life Inspirations

Out of all the video games available, the ones with anthropomorphic protagonists and supporting characters are the most entertaining and whimsical. Think about the Mario video game series. Aside from Princess Peach, Luigi, and Mario, the majority of the characters are animals.

Video game creators have done a fantastic job of developing talking animals that are distinct from one another. However, are you aware of the sources of these characters’ real-life inspirations? To find out, continue reading.

What Animal is Yoshi?

Devil World (1984) served as the model for Yoshi, Mario and Luigi’s faithful companion and occasional sidekick. Shigeru Miyamoto, the designer who had also worked on Devil World, had multiple drafts of Yoshi on his desk when he was sketching, one of which included Mario riding a horse. He created a fictitious dinosaur species by fusing his main ideas of Mario riding a horse and having a green lizard-like sidekick.

13 More Video Game Characters And The People Who Inspired Them in Real Life Fox McCloud

Fox McLoud, the squad leader of Star Fox, is a red fox. Shigeru Miyamoto, who also designed McCloud, got the idea and style for the product after visiting the fox-honoring Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine in Kyoto.


As implied by his full name, a hedgehog served as the model for Sonic’s appearance.Sega executives searched far and wide for a concept to rival the Mario franchise in Sonic the Hedgehog. Among them was a turquoise, spiky-haired hedgehog that seemed to appeal more to participants in an unplanned focus group in Central Park than the others.

Donkey Kong

For Olive Oyl, a comic strip that Nintendo had been trying to licence, Shigeru Miyamoto created a love triangle between a gorilla, a carpenter, and a girlfriend that reflected the rivalry between Popeye and Bluto. This was after he was given permission to develop original characters. The gorilla was further inspired by the 1933 King Kong film, and Donkey Kong was created.

Donkey Kong lacks all physical traits associated with a “donkey,” in contrast to Sonic. Instead, Miyamoto conveyed the character’s tenacity through the moniker.


Isabelle is an anthropomorphic golden shih tzu that is a component of the very popular Animal Crossing franchise. The designers of the game searched for a devoted, kind, and gentle female friend.

Crash Bandicoot

Did you know that Crash got his name from an actual animal? Yes, he really is a bandicoot! The little marsupials known as bandicoots are native to Australia and New Guinea. They hunt for food with their long snouts. Sony felt pressured to compete with Sonic and Mario, so its game designers chose a bandicoot as the game’s mascot. After witnessing Taz, the Tasmanian devil, they were inspired and want something akin to it.


The force behind Ninentdo, Miyamoto, originally intended Bowser to be an ox. Takashi Tezuka, a fellow designer, brought out the fact that Bowser’s original design was more turtle-like than ox-like. Miyamoto revised his design after realising he would become the head of the Koopa Troopas, as we will talk about later.

Petey Piranha

Petey Piranha is a hybrid of the Venus flytrap flower and a piranha fish, just like the other piranha flowers in the Mario franchise.


The title character of the eponymous video game series, Conker was first released in 1997 for Nintendo 64 users. To set himself and the game apart from the competition, the anthropomorphic red squirrel mascot initially evolved into a vulgar and more adult playable character.


Aficionados of Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda will be aware that Epona was formerly just an untamed filly that develops feelings for Link. Only a select few, including Link and Malon, who looked after her before Link, are allowed to ride her.


Amaterasu is a female white wolf who serves as the primary playable character in the game Ōkami. When the wolf is alone itself or in the company of other players who hold strong religious beliefs, it transforms significantly to display red markings and curlicue fur, drawing inspiration from the goddess Amaterasu.

Koopa Troopa

Turtles do actually make up Bowser’s army of Koopa Troopas. Despite their concerns that they would be “misleading children” with the character designs, Miyamoto had initially envisioned the characters as turtles based on his vision for the gameplay and mechanics of the game.


Knuckles, a red anthropomorphic echidna, is Sonic’s current best buddy and past opponent. In theory, the short-beaked echidna—which resembles a cross between an anteater and a hedgehog—is the model for the figure.


Red, the main character of Angry Birds, is a typical red bird, however it’s possible that a cardinal served as his model. The original idea for the game was to have a vibrant flock of birds, each with unique powers depending on their shapes and plumage, to aid the player in thwarting the pigs’ attempts to take the flock’s eggs.

Character Name Video Game Real-Life Inspiration
Yoshi The Mario franchise A cross between a green lizard and a horse.
Fox McCloud The Star Fox franchise A red fox.
Sonic Sonic the Hedgehog A hedgehog.
Donkey Kong The Mario franchise A gorilla.
Isabelle The Animal Crossing franchise A shih tzu.
Crash Bandicoot The Crash Bandicoot franchise A bandicoot.
Bowser The Mario franchise A Chinese softshell turtle.
Petey Piranha The Mario franchise A cross between a piranha and a Venus flytrap.
Conker The Conker franchise A red squirrel.
Epona The Legend of Zelda franchise Either a silver bay or sorrel horse.
Amaterasu Ōkami An arctic wolf.
Koopa Troopa The Mario franchise A turtle.
Knuckles Sonic the Hedgehog An echidna.
Red The Angry Birds franchise A cardinal.