A former Nintendo employee has divulged the origins of the names for the Mushroom Kingdom’s most notorious band of delinquents: the Koopalings.
On December 28, 2015, legendary Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister passed away due to an unexpected battle with cancer — just two days after he learned of the illness. Interestingly, many Nintendo fans might be surprised to know that Kilmister had a direct influence on Lemmy, arguably one of the Mushroom Kingdom’s zaniest Koopalings.
In an interview with Kotaku, Dayvv Brooks, a former product analyst who worked at Nintendo of America in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, goes into detail about how his personal passion for music guided him through the process of naming the Koopalings for English translations — with five out of the seven possessing the namesake of a famous musician.
Brooks states he was the sole person responsible for coming up with each Koopaling’s name, explaining the musical connections used for the inspiration:
“Music has always been a big part of my life,” Brooks said. “I’ve been a DJ for years and have been a music collector for even longer. When I first saw the group of seven Koopalings, music was on my mind.”
Brooks goes on to describe his process of attributing each Nintendo character’s physical appearance, personality, and style with real-life musicians of similar distinction:
“The hairstyle on one of them reminded me of Ludwig von Beethoven for some reason and Ludwig von Koopa was born. Next was the one with the glasses — that has to be Roy Koopa in homage to Roy Orbison, who almost always wore glasses. Then Wendy O. Koopa (Wendy O. Williams) [and] Iggy Koopa (Iggy Pop). One looked like a loudmouth, so he was Morton Koopa Jr. from [the] loud-mouthed talk show host Morton Downey Jr. And then there was Larry. There’s no real-world equivalent; he’s not Larry Mullen Jr. from U2 or Larry King, he just looked like a Larry.
“That brings us to Lemmy. In addition to being a great name, it’s perfect for a video game character. This Koopaling struck me as being the kind of character who would do his own thing, no matter what anyone else thought. I think it was those crazy eyes. Lemmy Koopa was in the crew.”
And there you have it! Another artifact of Nintendo’s past has been discovered.
In other related news, Yoshi’s proper name is T. Yoshisaur Munchakoopas.