This is the video game battle. Mario versus Sonic. For those too young to remember, Nintendo and SEGA were at each other’s throats during the 1990s, and Nintendo already established Mario as their mascot. Well, SEGA did not wait long to establish a speedy platformer of their own, as Sonic became not only a mascot for the company, but also something even greater that SEGA wouldn’t even be aware of until many years later.
So which one of these characters is the better video game mascot today? Which one has transcended the video game realm better and is more known around the world? Ultimately, which one has helped to make their company more recognizable by the mascot alone? Yes, that’s right: Who wears it better? This is the battle for mascot supremacy!
We start off with the mascot that has more history, and since we are a Nintendo-themed site, it only seems fitting to start off with Super Mario. Let me preface, though, just because we are a Nintendo-themed site does not mean we favor Mario. No, no. If you have followed our That Time series, Mario has history of being naughty. That means this will absolutely be fair and balanced.
Mario did not initially intend to be a mascot. Nintendo was simply pumping out games, and Super Mario sold really well and motivated the company to make more games. By the time Super Mario Bros 3 came out, Nintendo had a full-fledged mascot that became more rounded, more likeable, and more… well… mascot-like.
Mario has since spawned more than 200 games, including the main series, loads of spinoffs, sports games, kart racing, and so much more. Nintendo did try to bring Mario to the big screen back in 1993 following the initial success of the franchise, but the movie direction was so bad and disconnected from the source material that it ended up losing money in the box office. Thankfully, though, Nintendo seems to be ready to try a Mario movie again, and it is being handled by Universal and Illumination. The new movie is planned to release April 7th, 2023.
One of Mario’s greatest assets, though, is his large family that has also seen some video game action, like Luigi in Luigi’s Mansion, a Toad in Captain Toad, and Peach in Super Princess Peach. These characters are so connected in the Mario universe that thinking of Mario without them is damn near impossible. They come in all shapes and sizes, and some of them are just so fun that fans have been begging for more, like Waluigi. It is thanks to this extended character list that Mario has strength in numbers, which ultimately makes the party games so much more entertaining.
Mario games are also famous for being entry-level challenging for new players while also providing a proper challenge for veterans. Outside of Super Mario Bros 2 (AKA The Lost Levels), every game in the mainline series is something that the whole family can enjoy, and that is basically the greatest strength of Mario. Not only does the franchise boast a large cast of hilarious characters, but the games are always centered around creating a fun and family-friendly experience.
On the world scale, Mario is one of the most recognized characters. Period. In numerous surveys worldwide, Mario is consistently more recognized than you would believe, and in some surveys, certain communities recognize Mario more accurately and quickly than Mickey Mouse. Considering Mickey Mouse is one of the most famous mascots of all time, that is an amazing feat.
So Mario has staying power, games for everyone, a large family, world recognition, and a new movie on the way. The negatives are a terrible film from 1993, the Lost Levels not being as inviting as the rest of the franchise, and all the terrible things that Mario has done. How does Sonic compare? Let’s find out!
This may blow your minds, but in 1992, Sonic was more widely known worldwide than Mario and Mickey Mouse. It sounds crazy, but it is true. SEGA masterfully advertised the Blue Blur in the early 1990s, which is unbelievable to think about now as SEGA is out of the console game. But history shows that the company did what no other company could do at the time, and that was dethrone Nintendo as the most desired console maker, thanks largely to their attractive and speedy mascot.
The Sonic series does not have nearly as many games in its library as the Mario franchise, but its does technically have more mainline games. However, Sonic gained major attention late in its life thanks to back-to-back fantastic feature films from Paramount Pictures. Unlike the failure that was the 1993 Super Mario movie, both Sonic films blew past their box office expectations, with the first movie making $320 million USD and the second one making $405 million USD. It also appears that the film series will continue, which is only going to create a stronger and more recognizable franchise.
Where Sonic kind of drops the ball compared to the Mario franchise is in its cast of characters. Although Sonic has some popular ones like Knuckles, Tails, and Dr. Eggman, the others are less known. Even in the newest film, (SPOILER ALERT), Shadow the Hedgehog makes an appearance. Unfortunately, the average movie goer and casual fan of the Sonic series may not be familiar with some of these other characters, so when a surprise character pops up in the movies, most people will probably ask, “Who’s that?”
Similar to Mario games, Sonic games have a very nice entry-level difficulty for newcomers and some challenging stuff for veterans to chew on. However, Sonic games have not been as consistent in regards to quality as Mario games have. At the same time, though, SEGA has made some wild decisions, maybe out of desperation, that have ultimately given us the best Sonic gaming experiences in ages. SEGA ended up working with fan-game creators, and even accepted a couple for mass production. On top of that, SEGA consistently greenlights fan games for distribution while Nintendo constantly shuts such projects down.
Since SEGA dropped out of the console market, they have had a lot more freedom and flexibility with their characters and franchises, and one such occasion is working alongside Nintendo to bring us a few Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games titles. This has been an excellent strategy, because when it comes to character recognition, taking advantage of other well-known characters only increases recognition for your own. SEGA jumped on this, and it introduced more of its characters to an audience that would have otherwise neglected them.
Now, as we figure out world recognition of the Sonic brand, we have to take into consideration the popularity of the new movies as well. Although the new Mario movie has not released yet, it is difficult to believe that it will impact the next Sonic movie in any way. That means Sonic is on a road to greater things, more recognition, and staying power in the same vein as Mario and Mickey Mouse.
So Sonic has a couple brilliant films under its belt and an ongoing film franchise, SEGA plays nicely with its fans, games both old and new are still excellent, and SEGA’s advertising has always been off the chain. However, Sonic does not quite have the staying power of Mario yet, and lots of games in the series are mediocre at best. The Sonic franchise also suffers greatly from fan fiction, which can be a good or bad thing depending on the individual.
To be perfectly honest with you, making a decision between these two is very, very difficult. If we are judging solely on video games, Mario wins hands down. But if we are judging based on extra media, Sonic wins based on the two movies alone. This is one of those competitions where both parties are currently relevant, both brands are excelling, and both Mario and Sonic are known worldwide by all ages.
Mario benefits tremendously from being super-accessible with tons of games being family-friendly across numerous genres as well as having a slew of recognizable characters. Sonic benefits from solid marketing, wonderfully making the jump to Hollywood, and SEGA working closely with fans.
When it comes down to the wire, both Mario and Sonic have exceeded expectations when it comes to global recognition. Mario has just been so consistent, especially after the trainwreck that was the 1993 movie. Games like Super Mario World, Super Mario Galaxy, and Super Mario Odyssey have paved the way for platformers. Sonic started off super-hot, flubbed around for a while, and then experienced a resurgence thanks to the internet, Sanic, “Gotta Go Fast”, some solid fan games, and two amazing films. However, there can only be one video game mascot king, and as of right now, I have to say it is Sonic.
The reason for my decision rests heavily on Sonic’s current popularity. The Sonic 2 movie did amazing in the box office, and the Blue Blur has not felt this popular ever in its history. People are excited for the next film, and with Sonic Frontiers looking promising, its video game lineage continues to grow. Sonic has never felt stronger, and I am sure SEGA is enjoying all of this grand attention. He’s got games, anime, movies, fan games, and tons of fan fiction. What else do you need?
However, at the end of the day, both characters are amazing mascots for their brands, and with the new Super Mario movie coming out next year, who knows? Maybe the plumber from Brooklyn can take some momentum away from Sonic, but I don’t think so. Sonic is riding high now, and he is the video game mascot king!
Thank you for stopping by Nintendo Link for this fun Versus Series article! What do you think of this mascot battle between Mario and Sonic? Did you find it insightful? Do you agree with it? Let us know in the comments below! Happy gaming, everyone.
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My name is Jason Capp. I am a husband, father, son, and brother, and I am a gamer, a writer, and a wannabe pro wrestler. It is hard to erase the smile on this simple man.