The Search for "Big Yoshi"
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Today, I would like to talk about a topic that Supper Mario Broth has been covering since January 2017: the big Yoshi from Super Mario RPG, which I have called "Big Yoshi" during most of this period. 

There is a chance that you have seen this image before:

It originates on Supper Mario Broth. However, only those who have followed both the main blog and the Twitter account have been able to see the entire journey of searching for more artwork of this Yoshi unfold. Here, I will recap each of the findings in chronological order, as well as finish with the newest, biggest discovery yet.

Now, to begin looking at the big Yoshi (the reason I am no longer treating "Big Yoshi" as a proper noun will be explained below), we must first look at his origins. The big Yoshi is a baby Yoshi, found on Yo'ster Isle in Super Mario RPG. Here are the only three sprites used by him, constituting the entirety of in-game big Yoshi content:

The big Yoshi never does anything crucial to the plot, and is in fact not very easy to encounter, as to see him, many Yoshi Cookies must be fed to a regular Baby Yoshi. Eventually, the Baby Yoshi will grow into the big Yoshi depicted here, whereupon Mario can feed him 10 extra cookies for a Yoshi-Ade item, or 20 extra cookies for a Red Essence item. Note that the Yoshi is not named in any way by the game; and the game does not have a file structure in its ROM data that could be mined for names of objects.

It follows, then, that a character that requires going out of the way in this manner to encounter would either have no official art, or that the official art would be very rarely used by publications and therefore be hard to find. In the case of the big Yoshi, official art does indeed exist; however, no full, transparent .png file released by Nintendo/Square Enix has been found yet. In my search, I have obtained better and better-quality scans of it, but the lossless source image remains somewhere out there. Acquiring it is the ultimate goal of this endeavor.

For many years, I have been aware of low-resolution versions of the big Yoshi artwork, such as this one from the official Nintendo Power guide for Super Mario RPG:

As you can see, the resolution is not very high, and the printing process, along with the scanning process, have resulted in an image with many imperfections. I have categorized this as something I would probably never see in high-resolution, similar to the extremely rare fully unobscured Wizard Toad from Mario Party 2.

In 2014, when I searched many Japanese websites for Mario artwork using search terms in Japanese on different search engines, I happened to come across this image:

It appeared to be a much higher-resolution version of the big Yoshi artwork, however, it had one problem: the tail section was cut off. Clearly, the original image existed somewhere, but whoever put it on the website decided to crop it in this manner.

Now, I wish I could tell you what website it was. I have spent many hours trying to find it again, so I could a) properly source it and b) possibly glean more information about the artwork. Unfortunately, at the time when I first made the discovery, I was not yet as strict with my attribution policy as I am now, and so I made no note as to where I found it. Here is the only comment I had attached to the image in 2014:

Japanese website for gaming magazine, SMRPG release feature. Filename: "BIG_YOSHI.png"

I apologize again for not being able to add any useful information to that, since 3 years had passed by the time I decided to take a closer look at the matter and all my memories of the original findings had gone. 

You can see that the comment contained a reference to the filename under which the image had been saved on the website in question: "BIG_YOSHI.png". In my subsequent posts, I had chosen to use this descriptor as the Yoshi's proper name, calling him "Big Yoshi". As has recently turned out, "Big Yoshi" is not his official name (details below), hence my choice to now change the name to "big Yoshi" to both maintain a connection to the original naming and to delineate the adjective "big" as merely a descriptor and not part of the name.

My idea for the first post about the big Yoshi was to attempt to restore - as much as possible - the original high-resolution artwork. This is the post in question, made on January 13, 2017:

Now, take a close look at the big Yoshi's tail. Can you see the seam that joins the part from the cut-off image above, with the tail that I took from the Nintendo Power guide? If you wish to know which versions of the big Yoshi you see on the Internet originate on Supper Mario Broth, look for the seam on the tail: if it is present, it is my version.

The post sparked an interest among Supper Mario Broth readers; I have received comments about the big Yoshi in such numbers that I knew that I needed to update my readers on all further developments regarding him. 

The next development - or rather, one that was planned, but turned out to not go according to plan - was this post, made on my Twitter account on August 2, 2017:

You may think "Wait a second, you were aware of the Nintendo Power guide image all along, and this scan looks clearly worse! Why make such a big deal about it?" Well, I must admit that in the case of this post, it was a premature celebration.

The original owner of Supper Mario Broth - who now has little interest in Mario and only occasionally offers help with material for the blog - had contacted me prior to the posting of that Tweet. Apparently, the Super Mario RPG ASCII guide (ISBN 4-89366-517-0) was negotiated to be purchased by the original owner, and using a low-quality scan provided to that person by the seller, I was able to find that the guide contained an image of the big Yoshi. The original owner promised me to create a high-resolution scan of the image upon receiving the guide. In my excitement, I posted the Tweet using the low-resolution preview.

However, the purchase fell through, as the seller of the guide ran into difficulties shipping it from their country of origin, leading to the original owner never receiving the book, and me never obtaining the high-resolution scan. For a while, I had given up on the big Yoshi.

Then, roughly a year later, on July 26, 2018, I have made an unexpected discovery:

As I was searching British gaming magazines for Mario content, this scan immediately caught my eye. Apparently, an amateur publication called Games Unlimited, produced locally by what I can tell was a team of no more than two people, somehow found a version of the big Yoshi that was undoubtedly the same as the Japanese publication discussed earlier - the tail is cropped in exactly the same spot, and the band of shading across the big Yoshi's torso has the same "light spot" in the middle (compare the shading on "BIG_YOSHI.png" and the shading on the Nintendo Power scan).

I surmised that a small publication like this being able to get hold of the artwork meant that it is not as impossibly hard to find as I assumed prior, and continued searching. However, it was not my own search that delivered the biggest result yet.

On September 11, 2018, user @PieMehker found a listing on the Canadian eBay site of extremely rare Super Mario RPG trading cards. 

This was definitely the clearest image of the big Yoshi yet, but the seller of the trading cards bent them before taking the photos, resulting in the image being slightly warped. I could not believe my luck when one of my readers, user @MDragmire, decided to actually purchase the cards and notified me that a high-resolution scan would be sent to me upon receiving them.

Note: the card contained a discovery arguably even more important than the artwork itself: an official name for the big Yoshi. Unfortunately, as it turned out, the official name is " ヨッシー ", or "Yoshi". The big Yoshi's name was "Yoshi" all along, meaning that "Big Yoshi" was false. Thus, I have now decided on "big Yoshi" as a compromise, as calling him "Yoshi" without any qualifiers would lead to confusion.

Finally, on September 28, 2018, @MDragmire contacted me with this image:

This is the highest-resolution, clearest image of the big Yoshi currently known. My deepest thanks to @MDragmire, for purchasing the cards and scanning them, as well as special thanks to @PieMehker for discovering the listing.

However, this is not the end. We have reached the limit of quality for print; but the final goal - the original .png file distributed by the development team - is still out of reach. I hope that one day, I will be able to find it - and if I do, you will certainly see it on Supper Mario Broth.

Thank you very much for reading.

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