Toad -or Kinopio as he’s known in Japan- is one of Nintendo’s most recognised support characters. Toad is also the name of a species of mushroom boys that for the most part lookalike. The species (then known as Mushroom retainers -or again Kinopio in Japan-) first appeared in the 1985 Famicom-classic Super Mario Bros. It is unknown whether Toad was one of these seven retainers. The phrase uttered by the retainers after the plumber has completed each of the game’s first seven worlds “Thank you Mario! But our Princess is in another castle” is one of the most well known catchphrases in video gaming of the decade.
Toad was one of the four playable characters in the 1988 NES game Super Mario Bros. 2 (Super Mario USA in Japan), along with Mario, Luigi and Princess Toadstool (Peach). Toad has the least jumping power of the four, but is the fastest runner if carrying an item, and the quickest to pick up items. Neither the height he can jump nor the speed he can run change, even if he is carrying an item. Toad’s abilities are similar in the 2013 Wii U game Super Mario 3D World where he is once again playable, although he is now depicted with blue spots (Blue Toad) instead of red.
Although playable in the 1992 Super Famicom classic Super Mario Kart, it wasn’t until 1994 when Toad finally became the sole protagonist in a video game with the NES puzzler Wario’s Woods (Wario no Mori in Japan) which also released for the SNES later that year. Toad’s goal is to rid the woods of monsters after Wario has cast a spell over the inhabitants in an attempt to takeover The Mushroom Kingdom. You can help him by arranging three or more monsters and bombs of the same colour in the same line, where the bombs will then explode and take the monsters with them!
Starring in the Virtual Boy launch title Mario’s Tennis the following year, Toad became a staple part of the Mario series’ titles including hosting the inaugural Mario Party (and most of the game’s many sequels), and helping Princess Peach in the Super Smash Bros. series, along with numerous other roles. Toad -and his lookalikes- have now featured in almost 100 Nintendo videogames, most recently as a playable character (albeit as the Yellow or Blue variant) in New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe for Nintendo Switch, and in Super Mario Run for smartphone devices.