Nintendo To Change Japanese Name Of Mario’s Former Boss In ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie,’ Presumably To Avoid Causing Offense

Foreman Spike attempts to sabotage Mario's efforts via Wrecking Crew (1985), Nintendo
Foreman Spike attempts to sabotage Mario's efforts via Wrecking Crew (1985), Nintendo

Nintendo has changed the Japanese name of Spike, Mario and Luigi’s former boss, ahead of the premiere for The Super Mario Bros. Movie, presumably to avoid offense.

Spike mocks the Mario Bros. while eating a pizza via The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023), Illumination

Spike mocks the Mario Bros. while eating a pizza via The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023), Illumination

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The premiere of The Super Mario Bros. Movie has revealed an interesting change in the Japanese version. The character Foreman Spike, from 1985’s Wrecking Crew, now keeps his English name in the Japanese version of the film. In the Japanese game, he was known as “ブラッキー” that directly translates as “Blackie,” or variations thereof (Blacky, Blakey). This would be “Burakkī” phonetically.

The official Japanese Nintendo Twitter account recently addressed the change for not just the film, but the character as a whole (machine translation: DeepL). “The name of the character ‘Blackie,’ which appears in ‘Wrecking Crew’ and other games for the Family Computer, will be changed to ‘Spike,’ the same name used in the United States and Europe.”

“The name in ‘The Super Mario Brothers Movie,’ which will be released on April 28, 2023, will be ‘Spike’ as well.”

Nintendo informs Japanese gamers Blackie is now called Spike via Twitter

Nintendo informs Japanese gamers Blackie is now called Spike via Twitter

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Spike’s appearances outside of Wrecking Crew, Wrecking Crew ’98, and Mobile Golf are usually cameos and references where his name goes unmentioned. In the English version of WarioWare Gold, players may occasionally see “Spike found the coin!” after winning the Find Coin! microgame — a nod to the recurring Bonus Stage in Wrecking Crew.

As such, Japanese gamers may not see Blackie’s new name unless he appears prominently in a new game, or whatever changes Nintendo could potentially make to older and retro games available via their online subscription service.

Foreman Spike appears to grab the coin instead of Mario in the Find coin! microgame via WarioWare Gold (2018), Nintendo

Foreman Spike appears to grab the coin instead of Mario in the Find coin! microgame via WarioWare Gold (2018), Nintendo

Blackie would seem to be based on the character’s black beard — maybe even an attempt to evoke the pirate Blackbeard. As “ラ” (Ra) is used for both English’s “r” and “l,” it may be possible the character’s name was intended to be something akin to “Brakey” or “Breaky”— fitting for a demolition worker, but pure speculation nonetheless.

Nintendo may also have been attempting to create an American sounding name like Blake. Other Japanese developers in the past had mixed success, such as the meme’d Fighting Baseball‘s hilarious and bizarre takes on US player names.

The Mystery Mushroom makes Mario look like Foreman Spike via Super Mario Maker (2015), Nintendo

The Mystery Mushroom makes Mario look like Foreman Spike via Super Mario Maker (2015), Nintendo

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The decision may be somewhat strange, as Spike’s the Japanese name would only be offensive to those who speak English and wouldn’t even apply to Spike as a slur. Interestingly, Blackie is a name that Nintendo has also used for other characters.

Eevee and its evolutions in Pokémon have different names in Japan, akin to English names and words you may give a pet (Flareon is called Booster, while Jolteon is Thunders). Umbreon, a night-inspired Pokémon with jet-black fur is called ブラッキー in Japan or, once again, Blackie.

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