There was a time when Mario and Sonic were bitter rivals striving to claim the crown of king of the platformer, it was a massive feud that ultimately divided the fan base of the respective characters into one that liked precise platforming, or the hectic got to go fast style of Sonic. I admit I was a Mario child, I didn’t even know what Sonic was until about 2005 so finding a side of this war was simple, and it was already over. But for those who grew up with either character there was a stubbornness about them, Mario and Sonic were rivals to the bitter end, and this is what made it difficult for these older fans to swallow when they would eventually come together.
In the modern era, Nintendo and Sega are pretty close, and likewise Mario and Sonic seem to share a lot, they are both major staples of Nintendo’s systems and Sonic has even been a part of the Super Smash Brothers lineup for years. Yet it was officially 2007 when Nintendo and Sega announced a revolutionary partnership, finally Mario and Sonic were coming together as allies and rivals for a new game. Oh the possibilities, what could these two icons be doing together? As it turned out they were competing in the Olympic Games, okay then it’s a start, it’s an idea, however we still needed an air of scepticism, but it turned out that this idea was really clever and ended up being quite fun.
This was however only for a short time, Nintendo and Sega continued to drag out Mario and Sonic’s collaborative efforts at the Olympic Games and they were wearing thin. A lackluster visit to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, a pretty good journey to London (which in retrospect was a lot of the same), another lackluster Winter Olympics in Sochi, and finally Rio 2016. This latest collaboration is not outright bad, but it is the final straw that has ultimately broken the camel’s back, a novel idea that over saturated the market and drew in more tired and mediocre games the further it went.
The sad thing is that I don’t feel that this should be the end for Mario and Sonic’s get together's, the Olympics may now be played out but there is still a market for Mario and Sonic to work together, and there are still a thousand stories to tell. The new question is where do we go now? What is next for Mario and Sonic, and what should they tackle in the future? For a moment I will be perfectly honest, Nintendo and Sega will probably keep beating this dead horse as it stands, yet I implore these companies to explore a new route and there are many options to which they could go down.
I won’t pretend to be smart when it comes to the game making process, or good when it comes to creating the journey that these games will offer players, but I will say that there are many unexplored routes for Nintendo and Sega which are familiar yet could be different. Speaking from a Mario sense this character has been in nearly everything, from simply party games, to sports events, to platforming adventures, all the way to racing and proper role playing game adventures. Likewise, Sonic has shared many of the same adventures, but in his own sense and I think that Nintendo and Sega can utilize the characters shared history to create a new collaborative adventure.
To begin with let’s look at Sports, this may seem too much like Nintendo and Sega would be going down the Olympic Games path in a new form, yet I don’t think we should be against this idea. Rather than focusing on the tired Olympic formula Sega could keep the same development team and still create an interesting collaboration. Just think about it, Nintendo has plenty of moments where they have sent Mario to the sports arena and he has played just about every sport that exists. Sonic on the other hand has played Tennis, and whatever the Olympics have offered him, but this is where I think that Mario and Sonic can still work together. If Nintendo and Sega’s sport division worked together they could deliver a full sport experience that could be better than many of Mario’s more recent sports endeavors.
If properly made, and also contained to a single sport we could see an effort that would feel suitable for the gaming icons and could possibly highlight their individual skills. Perhaps a proper Mario and Sonic soccer game that shares similarities to the Mario and Sonic interpretation, the only thing that changes it that it would have more game modes, and more room for Mario and Sonic fantasy over general realism. Truthfully I think another Mario and Sonic sports game would work and the possibilities are endless, especially if Nintendo and Sega wanted to get Next Level Games involved.
But what else could Mario and Sonic do in collaboration, well there are actually a multitude of options, and one such territory that I think would be perfect for this is a Role Playing Game. To note, neither franchise are strangers to the genre, Sonic had his one off adventure for the Nintendo DS Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. Meanwhile, Mario has the better known repertoire with his Paper Mario adventures, and more importantly the Mario and Luigi franchise which has told some pretty interesting stories.
Together this could form a pretty great combination allowing a revolutionary story to be told which might actually make sense as to why Mario and Sonic are actually together. As demonstrated by past instances with their respective role playing games, it has been shown that Mario and Sonic can have a rich backstory, and there are truly deep stories to tell. This also gives room to highlight varying characters from each universe and provide a more enriching tale, personally I would quite love to see Amy, Tails and Peach on an adventure, and the story that can be shared through the genre would unlimited.
Role Playing Games have the ability to tell stories that we never imagined with certain characters, as proven by the Paper Mario games with Luigi’s tragic tale of woe over his brother going on adventures and leaving him behind. There is so much room to explore the rich history of these characters and how they would truly behave when tasked to work together.
Furthermore, we must talk about the combat system, and this is where we could truly see the characters unique abilities play out. But what route would this take? To answer this we need to look at the history of these characters in role playing games, and what we see is turn based endeavor’s which seemed to work quite well, and these have developed quite a fan base. Using this system we could see each character hone their own power and deal with a certain situation, Sonic’s speed, Tails engineering, Mario’s jumping, Peach’s umbrella, and so much more.
If we needed a plot that would draw them together I have the perfect one, Bowser and Eggman coming together with an evil plot would combine the forces of good from the alternate franchises and could potentially develop an ingenious plot. Think Eggman’s bumbling genius crossed with Bowser’s own skills, there is room for a lot here and I think this could work.
Of course there is one thing for certain Mario and Sonic need to distance themselves from the Olympics and find a new crossover element. Look at it the possibilities presented by both franchises are almost endless and I think if Sega and Nintendo put their heads together they could come up with something great. Perhaps a huge platforming adventure, a Mario Kart meets Sonic and All-Stars racing game, come on Sega and Nintendo there are so many ideas out there you just need to get creative and offer a chance to help both series shine in a new light, and without running through a tired license idea.