There are moments in Sonic and Mario’s histories worthy of debate: Sonic 3 or Super Mario 3? Who had the better first 3D game? Mario Kart Wii or Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing Wii? However, there are also moments when it is so obvious that Sonic won, even the most hardcore Mario fans will have a tough time assembling a counter argument. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and revisit 5 times Sonic totally beat Mario!
Sonic the Movie beats Super Mario Bros. the Movie
note: I’m comparing these two as they were both released worldwide as movies, this is not a comparison of Mario and Sonic animes
Do I really need to go into this? Super Mario Bros. the Movie was a failure on so many levels. Terrible adaptation, incoherent plot, cheesy acting and a critical and financial failure. I remember back in the day thinking that even if they had failed at a good script and the acting was passable, at least it would be cool to see characters like Koopa and Yoshi given a realistic makeover.
But nope, not even those characters were given the same treatment that the Ninja Turtles were given three years before. Instead we got a human Koopa and a creepy little t-rex. Seriously, if films like Labyrinth and Ninja Turtles can give cartoonish characters realistic depictions, why couldn’t Mario the Movie give us a huge lizard wearing a gold crown and a green dinosaur with a saddle? They even screwed up the most simple of characters like Goombas and Toad.
And then we have Sonic the Movie. Compared to the Mario movie, this thing is near perfection! Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and new characters Old Man Owl, the President and his daughter going up against Robotnik, Metal Sonic and Metal Robotnik. SEGA wisely went the animation route, because really, when dealing with video game characters as fantastical as Sonic it’s the best way to go.
The plot, while a bit different from the game storyline, is still true to the characters and their intentions. It should be noted that the movie came out just after Sonic 3, so at the time the movie really didn’t seem so different until the Dreamcast games arrived. The only faults I can find with it are that the English voices aren’t so great, then again the DVD has the Japanese track.
Sonic had the better Game Boy Advance games
It must have stunk being a Mario fan when the Game Boy Advance released. Imagine, a handheld promising graphics comparable to the SNES with the promise of handheld Mario games. The original Game Boy had the Mario Land series, which featured new and original stories and stages for the handheld device. So what did the Game Boy Advance offer by way of Mario platforming games? Rereleases of SNES games! What more, those releases kicked off with the least loved Mario title, Super Mario Bros. 2. Aside from adding collectible items, a scoring system and slightly different enemies and environments (ooh look, that Shy Guy is slightly larger!), Super Mario Advance is far from the handheld platformer that Mario fans deserved. What followed were rereleases of Super Mario World, Yoshi’s Island and Super Mario 3. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all good games, but would you rather have a rerelease or a brand new game? Enter Sonic.
Sonic knew how to make a Game Boy Advance game. Sonic Advance was the first wholly original 2D Sonic title since 1994′s Sonic Triple Trouble (Chaotix did not feature Sonic and Sonic Pocket Adventure reused a number of elements from past games). Sonic Advance featured four playable characters, all with brand new moves, nine zones with a total of 13 acts and a final boss fight. The game was fun, new and the best 2D Sonic game in years. Following Sonic Advance were two more new games, Sonic Advance 2 & 3, which introduced new gameplay methods and characters.
In my opinion, a great newly developed game beats out a great rerelease.
Sonic had the better sequel
Speaking of Super Mario Bros. 2, I should get this controversial one out of the way. When it comes down to it, Sonic 2 is a better game than Super Mario Bros. 2. Think about it, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was developed with the full intention of being the sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog. The developers went to great lengths to improve nearly every aspect of the game. Better graphics, better music, a second player, a competition mode, faster speeds and an epic ending. And they succeeded at every one of those aspects.
Meanwhile there is Super Mario Bros. 2. It’s not a bad game by any means, however it really isn’t the true sequel to Super Mario Bros. The actual sequel would be Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (aka Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan). Unfortunately, it seems Nintendo execs though the game’s difficulty was too much for Western audiences and instead they redesigned and reskinned the game Doki Doki Panic. So we have two sequels to Super Mario Bros. One is a reskin/redesign and the other is a “hard mode” of the original game with new layouts but very little else in terms of improvements. Improvements wouldn’t occur until Super Mario Bros. 3, which really is the game that should have been Super Mario Bros. 2.
Sonic had the better 2D sidekicks
Again, this one is controversial, but I have to conclude that Sonic had the better 2D sidekicks simply because they were far more original in design. While Luigi was simply a second player re-color, and Toad and Peach popped up and quickly disappeared following Super Mario Bros. 2, Sonic’s 2D sidekicks not only stuck around for sequels but they also evolved as the games went on. Case in point: Luigi continued to do what Mario did, only evolving to the point of being a bit taller and jumping a bit further and higher than his brother. Meanwhile Tails developed the ability to fly and carry secondary characters and Knuckles glided and climbed walls. With the Advance series came even more moves, by way of melee attacks and tag team abilities in Sonic Advance 3. Sorry Luigi, but Tails and Knuckles beat you.
Sonic had and will have the better anniversary celebrations
While the “will have” has yet to be proven, rumors of Sonic’s 20th look to be leaps and bounds better than Mario’s 25th. Even when leaving speculation aside, Sonic’s 10th anniversary celebration beat that of Mario’s 25th. Let’s compare, shall we?
Mario’s 25th featured red DSi and Wii consoles, bundled with games that had been released in 2005 (Mario Kart DS) and 2009 (New Super Mario Bros. Wii). Also released was a straight port of the SNES’s Super Mario Bros. All-Stars, with no extras on disc. C’mon, even Sonic Jam came loaded with bonuses! Also included with All-Stars is a soundtrack CD (although 10 of the 20 tracks are short sound effects clips) and an art booklet. The art booklet is the one decent item in the set. 2010 did see the release of Super Mario Galaxy 2, however the game was very much detached from the 25th anniversary festivities. No “25th” logo on the box, no bonus stages paying homage to the event. Correction: there was Throwback Galaxy.
Now let’s compare Mario’s 25th to Sonic’s 10th Birthday Pack. Back in 2001 Sonic celebrated his 10th in a big way. We had the sequel to Sonic Adventure released on the same day as Sonic 1 was released, ten years later. As a bonus, those who bought the game on release day had a chance to pick up the Sonic Birthday pack. The package featured a gold soundtrack CD, complete with 23 full tracks including music from the just released Sonic Adventure 2. Also included in the pack was a gold coin, commemorating the date, and a booklet filled with facts, a gameography and historical oddities. The anniversary didn’t end there, as those who collected every emblem in Sonic Adventure 2 were treated to a fully playable 3D Act 1 of the original Sonic stage Green Hill Zone. Did I mention that the Sonic Birthday Pack was free with purchase of Sonic Adventure 2, while the Mario 25th pack will set you back $30?
If it sounds like I’m having a haterpalooza on Mario, I really am not. I enjoy the Mario games and respect the character. However in the current day and age where Sonic is the butt of many jokes in the gaming world, I think it’s important to note that Mario is not all good either. There have been times where Mario failed and Sonic succeeded. While those times have been few and far between nowadays, perhaps the winds will change in Sonic’s favor and 2011 will be the true return of SEGA’s mascot (fingers crossed, knock on wood). Who knows, maybe both mascots will find success in 2011? There’s always room for two great platforming icons.