Can we all agree that Mario is the greatest and most recognizable mascot in gaming? When we do that, we can carry on with this story. Throughout my almost two decades of gaming, I have seen mascots come and I have seen them go. However, the biggest mascots during my childhood were Mario and Sonic. Heard of them? Mario and Sonic were almost neck to neck in popularity during the early 90’s.
The only thing Mario had edgewise was a longer history. Other than that, we really didn’t know who would come out on top at the end of this epic rivalry. Mario represented the Super Nintendo, and Sonic represented the Sega Genesis. Both had incredible games, so where did it all go wrong for Sonic? Today, Mario is as great as ever and Sonic battles to stay relevant.
I believe Mario’s ability to expand outside of the platforming genre, and Sonic trying to do the same was the primary reason for the steady downfall. The main Mario series on Super Nintendo is pretty much one game, Super Mario World. It’s three games if you count Super Mario All-Stars and Yoshi’s Island, but I don’t. That’s not to say there weren’t that many Mario games for the Super Nintendo. Mario was also kart racing, painting and RPGing.
Sonic, on the other hand, was four games deep on Sega Genesis with its series’ canon. They were all great games, but Sonic also tried to do what Mario was doing. Sonic ventured off with Sonic R, Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic Spinball. Maybe with the exception of Sonic Spinball, the other two games ruined Sonic’s reputation. They were stinky excuses for spin-off titles.
Now, I know that Mario had his fair share of awful games on Super Nintendo, as well. However, the difference was the pushing of these awful titles. How many times have you heard of the game, Mario’s Time Machine? Nintendo made the smart move of keeping these sub-par games where they belonged, hidden and never heard about again.
With the past behind him, Mario simply continued doing his thing with great titles, such as Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64. Then we have Sonic who basically no-showed on the Sega Saturn. Sonic managed to stay relevant a little while with Sonic Adventure for Dreamcast, but once again fell off the face of the earth soon after. The lack of consistency for Sonic titles is why the cool and blue mascot is now just one of the many cartoon-faced bargain bin regulars. Today, when a Mario platformer hits the shelves, it is guaranteed to be a game worth your money. Too bad we cannot say the same for Sonic games.