Game Informer has just released an interesting feature that recounts the legacy of the Sonic the Hedgehog and how the blue hedgehog ended up making friends with Mario, his fiercest enemy from the 90s. The creator of Sonic, the former head of Sega of America, and more weighed in on how they feel after the dust had settled and the decade long rivalry went dormant.
In many ways, Sonic was envisioned from the very beginning as a foil for Mario. The current head of Sonic Team Takashi Iizuka says “In that time Super Mario Bros. and the whole Mario franchise was the best game out there in a lot of people’s eyes – especially when you get into action and platforming. There were so many fans of the Mario series and then we came out with Sonic, who was this character that was cooler, had this visual style where he was bright blue, he played faster, the controls were better – it was a tighter game.”
Nintendo was out for blood in the war of sales between Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, and no one understands that war better than Tom Kalinske, who was CEO of Sega of America from 1990 to 1996. “They were absolutely ruthless,” said Kalinske, referring to Nintendo. “I’ve got to hand it to them. I respected how strongly they tried to control the business, but in my opinion, a lot of the stuff they were doing was illegal. It was really monopolistic practices.”
However, by the end of 90s Sega was floundering– and not even the success of the Dreamcast could save it. In early 2001, Sega exited the hardware business and became a third-party software producer. Sonic started being shopped around to have games made on other machines. Yuji Naka, the creator of Sonic, ended up seeing this as a positive move that could put Sonic games into the hands of even more players.
2002 saw the release of the first Sonic game on Nintendo hardware, Sonic Adventure 2 Battle. From there, the relationship got better. Nintendo and Sega became partners with mutual respect. Many people wanted to see a game starring both Mario and Sonic, but Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto was hesitant. “I always thought it would be great to have Sonic and Mario in the same game,” said Miyamoto. “But if you put them in an action game, the feeling of speed is very different, so it wouldn’t have worked.”
The dream finally came true in 2007 when Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games was released for Wii, spawning its own series of games. Sonic the Hedgehog even appeared in 2008’s Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and once again with the latest entries in 2014. Sega has also produced many Nintendo exclusive Sonic games, such as Sonic Advance, Sonic Colors, Sonic Lost World, Sonic Boom, and more.
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Source: Game Informer