|First appearance||Super Mario Bros. (1985)|
|Voiced by||Nate Bihldorff (2005-present)
Testsuo Mizutori, Masaharu Satō (Super Mario Brothers: The Great Mission to Rescue Princess Peach!)
John Stocker (The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!)
Koopa Troopas, or just simply Koopas, known in Japan as Nokonoko (ノコノコ), are a fictional race of turtle or tortoise-like creatures from the Mario series, as well as its sister Yoshi series. Although the term 'Koopa' is a blanket term for the entire species of anthropomorphic turtles in the series, to which creatures such as Lakitu, Hammer Bros. and even Bowser belong, the term is often used to refer colloquially to this particular enemy. They are based on the kappa, a mythical creature from Japanese folklore. First appearing in the 1983 arcade game, Mario Bros., in which they were known as Shellcreepers, they are among the oldest recurring enemies in the series, and have appeared in some form in all of the main games, and most of the spin-off games. When defeated, Koopas may flee from or retreat inside their shells, which can then usually be used as weapons. Koopa shells are a recurring weapon in the series, particularly popularized in the Mario Kart series, in which they can be fired as projectiles against other racers. Despite making up the bulk of Bowser's army, known as the "Koopa Troop", Koopas as a species are often shown to be peaceful, some even teaming up with Mario such as Kooper from Paper Mario. An undead Koopa Troopa becomes a Dry Bones.
Concept and creation
A tortoise-like enemy first appeared in the 1983 arcade game, Mario Bros., called Shellcreepers (simply called "turtles" in Japan). Series creator Shigeru Miyamoto had a fellow designer draw the enemy, but the result was far too realistic to fit in with the tone of the game, so Miyamoto designed the enemy himself. While the design had quite a large head, Miyamoto validated it by suggesting it looked like a tortoise. In Mario Bros., Shellcreepers could only be defeated by hitting the platform on which they were stood from underneath, thus flipping them on their backs allowing Mario or Luigi to kick them off the screen. This is likely to have inspired gameplay in Mario platformers from this point on, in which enemies can be defeated (or stunned) by hitting blocks on which they are stood from underneath.
In Mario Bros., the color of a Shellcreeper's shell indicated how fast it was - green being the slowest, red being faster, and purple being the fastest. This trait would be inherited by Koopa Troopas, named as such in 1985's Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System, in which they were the troops in the army of Bowser's (known as "King Koopa" in Japan), hence "Koopa Troopas": they are Koopa's troopers. In Super Mario Bros., green-shelled Koopas wander aimlessly along platforms and even fall into pits, whereas those with red shells patrol their platforms, turning around when they reach the edge of it. Super Mario Bros. also introduced the Koopa Paratroopa; a Koopa Troopa with wings which jumps up and down or flies, thus making it harder to dodge and defeat. The design of the Paratroopa came from Mario developer Takashi Tezuka in an attempt to add a flying character to Super Mario Bros., but there was not enough space to include such a character. Tezuka suggested that they put wings on the Koopa Troopa and call it "Koopa Paratroopa", which Miyamoto did not think would work. However, once it was finished, Miyamoto felt that it looked cute. Jumping on a Paratroopa causes it to lose its wings and become a normal Koopa Troopa, whereas jumping on a Koopa Troopa would cause it to retreat into its shell. The shell can then be kicked, causing it to slide quickly along a platform, defeating any enemy in its path (or Mario, should he stand in its way). These attributes have endured throughout the entire series.
In video games
Koopa Troopas have appeared in some form starting with the original Super Mario Bros. in 1985 where it also introduced the Paratroopa, a version of the Koopa Troopa with wings designed by Takashi Tezuka.
In 1990's Super Mario World for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the Koopa Troopa's design was changed slightly, as it was given shoes according to the color of its shell and made bipedal, and although quadrupedal Koopas would be seen in Super Mario Land (albeit as "Bombshell Koopas" - which were similar to Koopa Troopas except their shells exploded) and its sequel, they would not be seen again until 2007's Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel, with bipedal Koopas remaining the most common design throughout the series. Super Mario World also introduced the concept of knocking a Koopa out of its shell by jumping on it (something outside the anatomy of real turtles and tortoises), causing it to go in search of a new shell. The game also introduced blue and yellow Koopas; blue Koopas essentially being faster versions of red Koopas that kick their shells at the player when knocked out of them, and yellow Koopas chasing after the player.
1992's Super Mario Kart for the Super Nintendo marked the Koopa Troopa's first appearance as a playable character, as well as introducing the character to the Mario spin-off games. Although Koopa Troopa was replaced by Wario on the roster of 1996's Mario Kart 64, a friendly Koopa was given the role of the host of 1998's Mario Party for the Nintendo 64, proving that Koopa Troopas aren't necessarily all loyal to Bowser. Since then, both Koopas and Paratroopas have appeared, either playable or not, in a vast number of spin-off games in the series, and Koopa shells have become popularized as a weapon by the Mario Kart series (often mistakenly referred to as "turtle shells").
In other media
Koopa Troopas have also made appearances in the various cartoons and comics based on the Mario series. Although Koopas didn't appear in the 1993 Super Mario Bros. film, early artwork had the film's version of Goombas labelled as "Koopa's Troopas".
A satirical article was written by The Pitt News columnist Ben Korman, criticizing the Mario series for its offensive treatment of the Koopa Troopas, stating that the character Mario was rewarded for his slaughter of "innocent, healthy turtles". GameDaily listed Koopa Troopa as the eighth best Mario enemy, calling them the most common enemies in the series next to the Goomba. IGN's Audrey Drake listed Koopa Troopa as one of the best Mario enemies, saying that it is one of the most "iconic Mario enemies out there. In fact, they're pretty much synonymous with the franchise."
Since their introduction, Koopa Troopas have become the iconic enemy of the Mario franchise, often referenced in popular culture relating to the series: in 2007's The Simpsons Game, a Koopa Troopa appears as the apparent bride of the eccentric geek Professor Frink after Bart and Lisa rescue him from Donkey Kong in a parody of the popular arcade game.
A variety of Mario-related merchandise depicting Koopa Troopas have been produced over the years by Nintendo; this merchandise includes plush dolls, mini figures, bottlecaps and plush keychains. The various merchandise given out on King Koopa's Kool Kartoons was often adorned with the name Koopa Troopa as well. Their signature shell was included as a player piece in the Nintendo version of the Monopoly board game.
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