Video game maker Nintendo has announced it has changed the Japanese name of Spike, the foreman who appears in “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” in advance of the film’s release in Japan later this month.
The character, who first appeared as an enemy of Mario in the 1980s game “Wrecking Crew,” will be renamed from “Blackie” to “Spike” in Japanese, just as he has been known to Western fans for the past three decades.
Nintendo did not immediately provide a reason for the decision to change the name, which could be read as a racist slur, saying only that the new Japanese name will be the same as the name used in Europe and the United States.
“The name in ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie,’ which will be released on April 28, 2023, will be ‘Spike’ as well,” the company added in a tweet posted to its official Japanese Twitter account last Thursday.
CNN has reached out to the video game giant, which is also responsible for other hits such as Pokemon and Animal Crossing, for comment.
Foreman Spike originally debuted in the 1985 Wrecking Crew series as a construction worker and arch-rival of Mario. He made the jump to the big screen in this year’s “Super Mario Bros. Movie,” in which he appears as the former boss of Mario and his brother Luigi before they quit their construction jobs to start their own plumbing business.
The movie, which made more than $200 million in the US and Canada for its five-day opening run, according to a news release, and an estimated $377 million worldwide, stars Chris Pratt as Mario, Charlie Day as Luigi and Anya Taylor-Joy as Princess Peach.
The movie follows Brooklyn plumbers Mario and Luigi as they’re transported down a mysterious pipe while working underground to fix a water main. The brothers wander into a “magical new world” and when they’re separated, “Mario embarks on an epic quest to find Luigi,” according to a synopsis on the movie’s website.
Mario and Luigi have appeared in a variety of Nintendo produced game titles in recent years, including Mario Kart, Super Mario Odyssey, and Super Mario Party.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe remains the game maker’s top selling title, having sold 52 million copies worldwide since its release in 2017 on Switch, according to Nintendo.