The official Nintendo account just tweeted that, in Japan, the foreman character in the NES game Wrecking Crew will be renamed from “Blackie” to “Spike” in games and The Super Mario Bros. movie. This change was already made in the U.S. and EU versions of the original game, likely because Spike’s original Japanese name could be read as a racial slur.
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“The name of the character Blackie, who appears in the Family Computer software Wrecking Crew, will be changed to Spike, which is the same as the name in Europe and the United States,” reads a translation of the tweet posted in Japanese by VGC.
Spike first appeared in Wrecking Crew, an action puzzle game released for the Famicom in 1985. As the title suggests, players control Mario (or Luigi in two-player mode) and have to destroy multiple objects with a hammer while avoiding hazards. Since they’re carrying a heavy tool, they have to complete levels without jumping. Spike is a foreman that attempts to stop Mario by knocking objects down. He made another appearance in Wrecking Crew ‘98, though the Super Famicom game was never released in the U.S. And yes, in case you’re wondering: He is a white guy.
Most localizations use “Spike,” with the exception of some Asian versions of the Wrecking Crew games. He was Burakkī in Japan and Bùlāqí in Taiwan, both of which were transliterations. One older fan theory suggests that the correct romanization for Spike’s old name is “Breaky,” since he’s never depicted wearing black in his game appearances.
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In The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Spike was Mario and Luigi’s boss before they quit their construction jobs to become plumbers and mostly exists to make the brothers feel bad about striking out on their own. The brothers impress him when they save Brooklyn from Bowser, though it’s arguable that the mess was their fault in the first place. Oh, well. I like to think that Spike meant well and was trying to offer them their old jobs back in the least diplomatic way possible.