Super Mario World is one of the finest video games ever made, and it makes me happy beyond words that somewhere in the world, a child is picking up the Super Nintendo Classic Edition and playing the game for the first time.

Granted, that gamer already probably knows Mario’s dinosaur friend Yoshi through his various incarnations over the years. However, when we first picked up Super Mario World in 1991, our lives changed forever when we were first introduced to the long-tongued reptile. Those clever eyes, that rounded snout…

Would you believe that we were really close to getting an entirely different Yoshi? In a translated interview with Super Mario World Director Takashi Tezuka, he remembers how Yoshi used to look more like a crocodile.

When we were making Super Mario Bros. 3, [Shigeru Miyamoto] had drawn a picture of Mario on a horse, and hung it on a wall near where he used to sit. I would look at that and think, ‘I think he wants Mario to ride something.’ When we started making Super Mario World, we were working with the concept of a dinosaur land, so I had [character designer Shigefumi Hino] do art for a kind of reptile. It was like a crocodile,” which ended up feeling “out of place.

And then, in the interview, Tezuka drops an image of the very first design for Yoshi.

Whoa, we really dodged a bullet on that one. Still, I won’t completely dismiss this original design. It has its charms, and I’m speaking from years of an established image of what Yoshi should look like.

On a side note, it’s fascinating to see the rest of these sprites. Many of these didn’t make it into the final game, and many of these show a Super Nintendo version of many Super Mario Bros. 3 characters who will forever be stuck un 8-bit.