Back in the heady days of the 90s, Mario and Sonic were poles apart. They were at the centre of a digitally vicious rivalry that ranked up there with Blur and Oasis. However, as time has passed old wounds have healed and a new era in the history of Mario the plumbing mushroom slayer and Sonic the Hedgehog. Not only have Nintendo and Sega forgiven and forgotten, but then are now partners in some of the best in computer games entertainment to hit the shelves.
Believe it or not, but Nintendo has been around since 1889, when it manufactured “Hanafuda” (flower) Japanese playing cards in Kyoto. It wasn’t until the 1970s that they started to get technical, but by the 1980s they become a superpower in computer games entertainment thanks to the huge success of Arcade Game and Game & Watch product line, Donkey Kong, created by the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto. The protagonist in the game was one carpenter by the name of Jumpman and his challenge was to rescue his girlfriend Pauline from the grizzly gorilla. As we all know, that carpenter would later be renamed Mario and a whole beautiful saga was born.
Sega, meanwhile, got into games much earlier than Nintendo, developing and distributing arcade style games from the early 1950s. However, throughout the eighties, it was Alex the Kid, the first game released on the Mastersystem, that would be the companies main star. Cue 1991 and the introduction of Sonic the Hedghog, and all of that changed forever. This left Mario with near complete dominance on the NES with Mario Bros 1, 2 and 3 throughout the 1980s.
The 1990s saw the console wars between Nintendo’s SNES and Sega’s Megadrive/Genesis rise to boiling point. And so it fell to their joint respective bastions of gaming excellence, Mario and Sonic, to carry their digital torch to the masses. Kids in schoolyards all around the world divided into one of two camps; plumbers or spinners.
Mario struck the first killer blow with Super Mario World with the release of the SNES in 1990. However, Sega responded quickly after that with the Megadrive/Genesis hyper-speed release of Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991. This was quickly followed by a series of Sonic games unleashed on the entertainment news world without a single SNES response from Mario. However, releases on the handheld console, Game Boy, meant that Mario was still causing thumb blisters throughout the 90s.
Nintendo would stick with a single, big hitting Mario platform game for each of its successive games consoles following the SNES; Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64 and Mario Sunshine for the Nintendo Gamecube. However, Sega failed to replicate this with their first console, the Sega Saturn, and the main Dreamcast game, Sonic Adventures, wasn’t enough to keep the failing console from being the final death nail in Sega’s console war.
From here on in, Sega continued on with a purely games creation operation and their first Sonic game to go over to the Nintendo darkside was Sonic Adventures, which came out on the Nintendo Gamecube in 2003. This was the beginning of many ports, and now, not only do some of the best computer games on Nintendo consoles feature Sonic the Hedgehog and friends, they feature both Mario and Sonic. Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games was the first of these and was followed shortly afterwards with the eagerly anticipated release of Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games. Now there is a third incarnation in Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic games, so the big question is when will we get to see them join forces in a classic 3D platform game. Maybe the recently announced Nintendo Wii U console will be the first to push the boundaries of the old, bitter rivalry once again.