When you think of how video game developers come up with character names you imagine a formal meeting dedicated to brainstorming. You might even imagine they talk about important points of how marketable the name is, how catchy, how likable, how it applies to the targeted market and so forth. I am here to tell you that this is the furthest from the truth for a lot of these famous video game characters. Most of these names came up as a simple meaning or at random during their humble beginnings. You cannot imagine where these developers found inspiration to come up with the names. It just happened that all the right things fell into place and the rest is history. Here are the secret origins of famous video game character names:
Minoru Arakawa and his company Nintendo of American struggled financially while developing “JumpMan”. Mario Segale an angry landlord came in demanding his rent money from Minoru one day. Minoru had been falling behind for months. The character was renamed from Jumpman to Mario after him.
While developing Mario in two player mode a second character was needed. The name Luigi originated from a local pizzeria close to Nintendo of America called “Mario & Luigi”.
Wario came from a combination of the name Mario and the Japanese word “Warui” which means bad. So the direct translation is bad Mario.
A bowser is a type of large military vehicle designed for holding large amounts of water or fuel.
The origin behind the name Link according to Miyamoto has to do with the Triforce. The original game also had the character travel from the past to the future creating a “link” between them.
Shigeru Miyamoto thought of American novelist Zelda Fitzgerald as a famous and beautiful woman in every way. She is the wife of novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald. He named the princess Zelda after her.
The original name was “Pakkuman” which came from “paku-paku” a known Japanese word for mouth opening and closing. The name was later morphed to “Puck Man”. When the game was ready to be released to America there was obvious concerns around the word “Puck”. It was decided to change the name a final time to Pac-Man.
Originally named “Popopo” during development. The character was named Kirby after american Lawyer John Kirby. John defended Nintendo against Universal Studios who filed a lawsuit against Donkey Kong. It is also coincidentally the name of a vacuum cleaner manufacturer.
Kong came from the fact that on the original game Donkey Kong kidnaps a lady to the top of the tower. This is exactly why Universal Studios sued Nintendo. Donkey came from the monkey being silly and not as big as King Kong.
The name is a combination of two Japanese onomatopoeia, “Pika” and “Chu”. Pika means sparkle/flash and Chu is the sound a mouse makes.
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