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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The Strange Origin of Chain Chomps

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If youve played a Mario Game before in your life, this scene should be pretty familiar.

Youre happily frollocking about the mushroom kingdom, making your way to wherever you're


But then, out of nowhere

WOOF WOOF *shudders* Creepy, right.

But lets rewind for a second.

Listen carefully.

Thats a bark.

Why is this giant horrific, toothy chunk of metal barking like a dog?

Well, there's actually a very good reason for it, and it's something that you really

wouldn't expect.

Lets take a look.

Hi there!

Welcome to Thomas Game Docs!

So today, were talking about the origin of these creepy things: the chain chomps.

Theyve been around for every recent Mario game, giving players around the world horrific

chomp-filled nightmares.

But where exactly did they come from?

Well, first, lets track down their origin.

Maybetrack downis a little melodramatic.

Chain chomp first appearanceThey first appeared in Super Mario Bros. 3.

Ok, well thats our first question answered: the first game that these creatures appeared

in was the much revered NES game, Super Mario Bros 3.

This game brought a multitude of important aspects to the Super Mario series that would

eventually become mainstays - the tanooki suit, toad houses, the world map!

But one aspect which Im not so keen on is the chain chomp.

But that doesnt answer the question of how these things even came about.

I mean, theyre super weird looking, plus they bark like a dog.

So how did the games developers even come up with these things?

Well, to find out, were gonna have to look into a tragic event in the childhood of one

of the games creators.

This guy - Shigeru Miyamoto.

I would be pretty surprised if you dont know who he is, but just in case, he is the

game designer who birthed Donkey Kong, Super Mario, and Zelda, among many, many others.

And, when he was younger, he experienced something which scarred him.

One day, Miyamoto was outside his house in the small town of Sonobe, Kyoto, where he

grew up.

Suddenly, a neighbours dog appeared out of nowhere, and started ferociously barking

at him!

It grew closer and closer, sending shivers down the young Miyamotos spine.

Then, it took one final leap, inches from the boys face, with its mouth open, teeth

glinting in the sunlight.


It was jerked back by its leash.

Moments later, Miyamoto opened his eyes.

To his amazement, he had escape totally unharmed.

He knew back then that he would never forget that moment.

Fast forward 25 odd years and Miyamoto was now working as a game designer at acclaimed

game development studio Nintendo.

The game he was currently producing was Super Mario Bros 3, the third entry in the much

revered Super Mario series.

The development team - that included producer Shigeru Miyamoto, co-director Takashi Tezuka

and lead programmer Toshihiko Nakago from SRD - this team were currently in the midst

of brainstorming new ideas for the game.

They started with powerups.

As I mentioned before, the team first wanted to include a power up themed around becoming

some sort of creature.

They liked the idea of including something mythological, eventually settling on a Centaur.

If youre not up on your Greek mythology, thats half human half horse.

Before long, though, the team decided to give it the axe, and replace it with a different

mythological creature - the Japanese Tanuki.

Well, to be clear, the tanuki, or racoon dog, is a real animal.

But it also has an undeniably important place in Japanese folklore.

And heres a fun bit of trivia.

In Japanese folklore, Tanuki use leaves to help them transform, which is why Mario uses

a leaf to enter his racoon form.

Once the tanuki suit was decided on, the team added the frog suit, which was also themed

around turning into a different creature.

After powerups, the team moved on to enemies.

And right away, something jumped out at Shigeru Miyamoto.

What if he turned his childhood trauma with the dog on the lead, into an enemy in the


It would be a round sphere, with menacing jaws, just like the dog way back when.

And the enemy would be chained to a post, again, just like his childhood memory.

Finally, he would name the enemy after the noise that dogs make in Japan - wan wan.

In english, this ended up being changed intochain chomp”.

A more literal translation would be calling the enemy awoof woof”, which, yeah,

maybe doesnt sound quite so menacing.

Another new enemy this time around was the boo, a ghost-like enemy who reacted to the

players own movements.

If Mario looked towards the boo, it would freeze on the spot, and not move any closer.

However, if Mario looked in the other direction, the boo would gradually creep closer and closer,

eventually attacking Mario.

But how did the team come up with this enemy?

Well, the boos behaviour, especially in Mario 64, was based around the daily life

of Director Takashi Tezuka.

You see, Tezuka would often spent long, long hours at work, beavering away at Nintendos

upcoming games.

Meanwhile, his wife at home grew more and more worried, waiting for Tezuka to arrive

for the night.

And his wife was normally very quiet, but one day, maddened by all this time Tezuka

spent at work, she exploded in a rage, giving Tezuka a piece of her mind!

That gave the team the idea for an enemy who seems quiet and unassuming, but when Mario

looks away, becomes large and menacing.

This eventually become the boo.

By the way, Tezuka was asked in an interview who his wife felt about being included in

the Mario games.

His reply?

Haha, she knows.”

Alright, one final enemy before we wrap up.

Although, maybe thats a little misleading - to top it off, were talking Koopalings.

Because these guys also have a pretty surprising history.

They got their start in a humble place: this simple sketch.

You see, in the earliest days of the Mario series, Shigeru Miyamoto, an artist himself,

was in charge of drawing up the official artwork of the characters.

His version of Mario looked pretty similar to how Mario looks to this day.

However, his versions of Peach and Bowser looked veerrry different.

I mean, look at Bowser.


Actually, Miyamoto was inspired by an old anime from 1960 called Alakazam the Great,

also known as Journey to the West.

Theres this ox demon in the film called Shouryuu, and this was the source of inspiration

behind Miyamotos drawing of Bowser.

However, in the kindest way possible, bowser looked AWFUL in all sorts of promotional art.

I mean, I feel like Im gonna have nightmares about potato-head Bowser and his flock of

geese koopa.


And so, and so, whilst working on Super Mario Bros 2: The Lost Levels, Nintendo decided

a redesign was in order, to iron out some of the kinks in these characters.

Taking the lead on this redesign would be acclaimed animator and artist Yoichi Kotabe.

Seriously, this guy could not have been more overqualified for his job as Nintendo artist

- he's worked alongside some of Japan's greatest animating talent.

Now, Kotabe and Miyamoto worked together to update the looks of the Mario series' main


For the plumber himself, Kotabe ended up leaving well alone, for the most part.

For princess Peach, or Princess Toadstool as she was known at the time, Kotabe made

her taller, and I guess more dainty?

But Bowser was the character who required the biggest overhaul.

Although he was meant to be the king of the koopas, Kotabe couldnt help but view him

as a hippo.

Not very menacing.

And so, he worked together with Takashi Tezuka to draw a new design for the fiend.

Heres an early sketch they drew.

Notice that in the background.

This is the earliest sketch of the Koopalings that we have on record.

Fast forward back to Super Mario Bros 3, and the development team were in need of a group

of bosses the player could fight.

Suddenly, Tezuka remembered the sketch that he and Kotabe had drawn.

It was perfect, he realised!

And so, the group of developers decided that there should be 7 of these mini bowsers, one

for each world of the game.

When designing the characters, they used themselves as inspiration.

Thats right, the koopalings were based on Mario 3s developers!

Sadly, its not known which koopaling was based on which developer, but its still

very entertaining to think about.

Now, for the Japanese release of the game, the developers decided to leave the koopalings,

or Kokuppa as they were known in Japan, unnamed.

They were just the kokuppa.

That was it.

However, two years later, Nintendo of America brought the game out in the US.

And, alongside the cartridge itself itself, there was this instruction manual.

And, if we flip to page 4.


Theyve all magically got names now.

So why did Nintendo give the characters names, and who was responsible for the naming?

Well, to find out, we need to look to this guy: Dayvv Brooks.

Now, Brooks started off as purely a Nintendo fan.

And as youll know if you were an 80s or 90s Nintendo fan, there was this phone number

you could call if you needed help with a Nintendo game, called the Powerline.

The phone number was 206-885-PLAY.

And, calling this number would get you in touch with a game counsellor, who would help

guide you through the game you were stuck on.

One day, a young Dayvv Brooks found himself in need of a little help with the game he

was playing.

After digging through the instruction manual, he found the phone number for the Nintendo

Powerline, and gave it a ring.

After explaining his problem to the counsellor, they quickly found the solution, and Dayvv

managed to progress through the game.

Once he hung up the phone, he thought to himself, “that must be the coolest job on the planet.”

Only a few weeks later, Brooks noticed something in the local newspaper: it was an advert for

the very job he had just been admiring - a chance to become a Nintendo game counselor!

Before long he showed up to the job interview, ...and it turned out to be shockingly simple

- all he needed to have done was played Zelda and Mario, which for a teen in the 80s wasnt

very rare.

And so, Brooks quickly settled into his job as Nintendo Counselor.

However, before long an opportunity came up for him - he would be able to move into the

product analysis department of Nintendo, which looked over the companys games to help

decide how to market them, and whether to even bring to over from Japan at all.

However, before taking the job, he had to prove himself by writing a review of SimCity

for the Mac.

Well, it turned out that he wasnt half bad, and he got the job.

Now, one of his first tasks was to look over the very roughly translated Japanese from

Super Mario Bros 3, and make it sound more, uh, correct.

And, he quickly noticed that the koopalings were left unnamed.

Well, that wouldnt do, would it!

And so, he got to work, thinking up some names for these characters.

Now, Brooks was a big music lover, so this had a major effect on his naming decisions.

When looking over the Koopalings, one of them immediately jumped out at him.

His hair looked exactly like the great composer beethoven.

Ludwig van beethoven.

And so, he decided to name the Koopaling, Ludwig von Koopa.

Von, van..?

I think he got a little mixed up there.

Oh well, the rest of the Koopalings followed a similar pattern.

This little guy had some preeetty snazzy glasses, which reminded Brooks of singer-songwriter

Roy Orbison.

And so Roy Koopa was born!

Sidenote, apparently this guy is nicknamedThe Big O” - which is amazing - please

only refer to me as the big T from now on.

Right, the next Koopaling Brooks picked out was this one, who reminded him of punk singer

Wendy O. Williams.

And so, Wendy O Koopa was the name he chose.

Another Punk inspired Koopaling was Iggy Koopa, named after Iggy Pop, the godfather of punk.

Next, Brooks picked out this guy, who he saw as a bit of a loudmouth.

And so, he named him Morton Koopa Jr., after the loud-mouthed talk show host Morton Downey


For Larry, there was no real-life inspiration.

Brooks just thought he looked like a Larry.

And lastly, Lemmy Koopa.

His guy was named after the founder and lead singer of the hugely influential rock band,

Motörhead, Lemmy Kilmister.

And that was all the koopalings!

Once Brooks had all the names decided on, he sent them over to Nintendo of Japan to

check over.

Somewhat surprisingly, they were absolutely fine with these names, even though they were

inspired by some not so kid friendly sources.

And with that, the names were pinned down.

That was how it stayed!

For the most part.

Ill keep this quick before I end the video, but there was this American cartoon adaption

of Mario 3, produced by DIC Entertainment, calledThe Adventures of Super Mario Bros.


And in this show, the Koopalings have completely different names.

Kind of weird ones, as well.

Ill rattle them off now: Bully Koopa, Big Mouth Koopa, Kooky Von Koopa, Cheatsy Koopa,

Kootie Pie Koopa, and Hip and Hop Koopa.

Now, I originally thought that maybe this show aired before the game was released in

north america, so they were forced to come up with their own names.

But no.

This show came out around 9 months after the game.

Very weird.

These names ended up being used again in the Super Mario World american cartoon, but after

that all of the series spin offs stuck to their official names.

Which, I think is a good thing.

I mean, Cheatsy Koopa?

Kootie Pie Koopa?

Big Mouth Koopa?

Man, the 80s were weird.

Oh, before you go - thanks for the huge amount of support this channel has been receiving

over the last week or so.

Its been crazy.

If youd like to, follow me on Twitter - that way youll now ahead of time what videos

I have planned.

Plus, its just general good times over there.

Alright, see you next week!


The Description of The Strange Origin of Chain Chomps