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  • SEGA Wants Sonic to "Catch Up And Surpass Mario" - Out of Respect, Of Course

    SEGA executive also wants Universal Studios Japan to make a Sonic themed area.

    SEGA has been pretty vocal on its intentions to transform the Sonic the Hedgehog brand into a mega-franchise that's world-renowned (even more than it... kind of is already?), and despite some hit movies and a promising slate of video games, the company feels like there is more work yet to be done. More specifically, they've been unfavourably comparing themselves to Nintendo's legendary 'Super Mario' series and setting the moustachioed plumber as a benchmark.

    In a corporate interview that just went live this week on the company's Japanese recruitment page (fed through Google Translate), Division Manager Osamu Ohashi expresses the lofty goal that SEGA still has for Sonic. That's to beat Mario at his own game.

    "Simply put, I want [Sonic] to surpass Mario," Ohashi says. "Sonic is a game that was originally developed to compete with Mario, and it still hasn't achieved that goal. Our goal is to catch up and surpass Mario, because we respect Mario. I want people to play [Sonic] all over the world, including Japan - like Mario - and I want the movie to be a bigger hit than Mario."

    2023-mariosonic.jpeg

    Now, out of context (say, in a news story headline!) this might give off the kind of airs that suggest SEGA is looking to rumble with its former hardware rival like it's 1991 again. But if you take in everything Ohashi says, it's clear that this isn't specifically about beating Nintendo; it's about ensuring Sonic is as much of a beloved icon as his peers - and to be honest, given the blue blur's 30-year history, it's clear that the only competition the hedgehog has in the character franchise space is Mario and Pokemon. So we can kind of see his point.

    Continuing with the Sonic-Mario comparison Ohashi also wishes that "[Universal Studios Japan creates] a "Sonic Area" as well" - a reference to the much-hyped 'Super Nintendo World Japan' that currently has residency at the theme park - that's our goal for those of us who love Sonic." What, SEGA Joypolis in Odaiba isn't enough?

    However, it seems that the relatively positive responses that fans and critics have had to Sonic Frontiers, Sonic Superstars and the Sonic movies hasn't been quite enough for SEGA to start getting optimistic about things just yet. Hopefully they can have a good reason to be enthusiastic about the franchise in the near future.

    For us though, you know what that means? We've all got to watch the Sonic 3 movie about ten times over to bump up the numbers! 

    Sonic News Tips Credit:
    Wraith

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    In the context of the end of 2023, where the main Sonic game that Sega spent four months trying to convince everyone was a "We're So Back" moment only to be met with middling reception all the way up to the three days it had to breathe before being absolutely annihilated by the new 2D Mario game that Sega foolishly lined it up against (that itself washed away the entire decade of NSMB's sins of mediocrity), I don't think Sonic is as much of a force to be reckoned with as is being claimed even if the games are averaging higher quality than they were a decade ago; though it's impressive for Sega to be deluded enough to act otherwise. Sonic (and Sega as a whole) is healthier now than it has been probably since the early days of the Sammy merger, but Nintendo is probably also better positioned now than they've ever been in their entire history.

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    20 hours ago, Dreadknux said:

    I'm sorry you had to go through all of that. It's easy to get incredibly passionate about things like this, it's important to be able to decouple from that every now and then. I know I've been through my fair share of online arguments too, haha. I like to think I'm old and wise enough now to ignore all of the noise from people I don't know (but I don't always 😅).

    What I would say though, is that a lot of what you're saying here is pretty out of date (including IGN's stance, which was very famously recanted recently on a PlayStation podcast of theirs). I know where you're coming from, but honestly I don't see younger generations bagging on Sonic the way us old and cynical types do. In fact, there's been a lot of chat online about 'toxic positivity', which I don't know anything about but seems to be all about people getting angry the moment anyone has anything critical to say about Sonic.

    I think a healthy fan relationship with a franchise is to be able to see and discuss its flaws without letting it cloud your overall enjoyment of the series (or enforcing that view onto others - let people like what they like I say, even if it is Sonic 06 😛). That's one of the things I try to encourage on this forum, at the very least, and it seems difficult to be able to have a real conversation with anyone anywhere else, simply because social media has reduced discourse to the level of "I think this and I am right, you are automatically wrong". Which is just not a good basis for anything really.

    I'll let this get back on topic now, but if you wanna chat more about this feel free to DM me! Thanks for being understanding.

    Thank you for your kind words. I unfortunately suffer from obsessive intrusive thoughts, so I tend to ruminate over the same toxic online arguments that I had with Mario fanboys from 2018 on my YouTube Channel when the Mario vs Sonic Death Battle aired again and again, it's truly a mental Hell. And what's worse is that not only can I not go a single day without seeing Sonic compared to Mario, but Mario/Nintendo merchandise and references are EVERYWHERE even when I take a break from social media and nerd stuff I can't get away from Mario even if I'm interacting with something that has nothing to do with gaming! But it is what it is, I've been doing a little better since speaking with my OCD therapist these past two years. 

    I'll definitely DM you later when I get a chance, thank you for understanding. :)

     

    14 hours ago, Kuzu said:

    I apologize for dismissing you before as I was not aware how personal of an issue this is for you and what it meant.

    Im just personally past the point of my life of being a militant Sonic fan and coming to the franchise's defense at any opportunity. There was a time I probably felt as passionate about this series as you do, but I'm an adult with far more important things to worry about than the state of this series. It's just a video game series to me at the end of the day that I occasionally enjoy. So when I saw your initial post, I just casually dismissed it as unimportant.

    If I made you feel like your feelings didn't matter then I am sorry for that too, and I hope you can work through whatever is going on in your personal life.

    Thank you for your apology. I apologize as well for getting upset with you and acting so immature. I shouldn't have said that crap about Nintendo and Nintendo fans, I'm 31 but when it comes to Sonic, it brings out the hot-headed teenager in me and I tend to go berserk. But I need to stop doing that and grow up. It's ok to like Sonic but as an adult I need to stop jumping to the franchise's defense every 5-seconds. Like my therapist told me, "If Sonic truly is as great as you believe him to be, then he doesn't need you to waste your time and energy defending him on social media". Anyway, we're all passionate about Sonic here, let's just try to stay friendly and appreciate what we all have in common, our love for the Sonic franchise! :)

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    8 hours ago, Ryannumber1gamer said:

    To go back to the topic at hand, my stance on this is about the same as it was back last year when they were talking about aiming to compete with Triple A companies again.

    That is to say - to put aside the franchises, skepticism, and whatever else - I really honestly don’t see the issue here. SEGA aiming to compete with the big boys is a good thing. It’s even better when they have clearly acknowledged that Frontiers was just a step towards that, and not the end flag. SEGA should be aiming to make Sonic a big deal and to give the franchise the budgets and time to bake as it deserves.

    I’d say a healthily ambitious SEGA/Sonic Team trying to reach the upper peaks of the gaming landscape is a much, much better thing than mid-2010s SEGA who decided Sonic as a franchise only appeals to children, so therefore make low budget games and there’s not much need to really care about the quality of the game or writing. They put it at a lower price point almost like an acceptance that it was nothing special, so move on.

    That’s not to say anyone is wrong to not believe in their words, or wait for the proof to be in the pudding. That is very much a fair stance to take, especially within this franchise, but I’d rather a ambitious SEGA/Sonic Team that actually tries again these days, rather than the indifferent SEGA/Sonic Team that would just coast along on what they deemed the franchise identity, tried to stick to that specific brand image, and half assed a lot to fit into it. Taken by itself, it’s a good mindset to have, even if it’s heavily unlikely they’ll ever overshadow Mario as a franchise,

    I totally agree with this.  While I do have my skepticism about whether or not SEGA can surpass Mario, at least it shows that SEGA/Sonic Team is actually trying to do better this time around than they did years ago.  I'm curious though: why did SEGA give the Sonic games a low budget during the 2010s?  Did they lose hope in the franchise or was there something going on behind the scenes that made them lose interest in making the Sonic games good in the 2010s?

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    15 minutes ago, Rabbitearsblog said:

    I totally agree with this.  While I do have my skepticism about whether or not SEGA can surpass Mario, at least it shows that SEGA/Sonic Team is actually trying to do better this time around than they did years ago.  I'm curious though: why did SEGA give the Sonic games a low budget during the 2010s?  Did they lose hope in the franchise or was there something going on behind the scenes that made them lose interest in making the Sonic games good in the 2010s?

    More or less. Sonic became less of a priority franchise after the Boom initiative flopped on it's face and after the deal with Nintendo for Wii U games was finished up. It's why Team Sonic Racing and Forces were ultimately budget titles released at a cheaper cost.

    Granted, that isn't a measure of quality. Crash N Sane Trilogy and Spyro Reignited are full scale remakes yet got put at budget prices due to technically being remasters. But before Frontiers, there was clearly a time where SEGA were more than happy to just have Sonic only target kids as the target audience, and as such, not really giving much of a crap about ambition. Where they thought other than kids, all they had to do was throw bad nostalgia pandering into a game and batta bing, that's the Genesis fans on board too.

    Basically, they got complacent and were more than fine being mediocre, with Mania being the exception since that was by a team who actually cared enough to make a quality game (and surprisingly, that was the one where Iizuka also stepped in to encourage Mania to be more ambitious). At least now, they're trying to push Sonic to be a bigger franchise, and giving the budget/dev time to shoot for those heights, even if missteps are happening. It could have been easy for them to just get complacent after Frontiers was a success and move on about their day, but they're still trying now, which is a good thing, above all else. 

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    51 minutes ago, Ryannumber1gamer said:

    More or less. Sonic became less of a priority franchise after the Boom initiative flopped on it's face and after the deal with Nintendo for Wii U games was finished up. It's why Team Sonic Racing and Forces were ultimately budget titles released at a cheaper cost.

    Granted, that isn't a measure of quality. Crash N Sane Trilogy and Spyro Reignited are full scale remakes yet got put at budget prices due to technically being remasters. But before Frontiers, there was clearly a time where SEGA were more than happy to just have Sonic only target kids as the target audience, and as such, not really giving much of a crap about ambition. Where they thought other than kids, all they had to do was throw bad nostalgia pandering into a game and batta bing, that's the Genesis fans on board too.

    Basically, they got complacent and were more than fine being mediocre, with Mania being the exception since that was by a team who actually cared enough to make a quality game (and surprisingly, that was the one where Iizuka also stepped in to encourage Mania to be more ambitious). At least now, they're trying to push Sonic to be a bigger franchise, and giving the budget/dev time to shoot for those heights, even if missteps are happening. It could have been easy for them to just get complacent after Frontiers was a success and move on about their day, but they're still trying now, which is a good thing, above all else. 

    Ah, so that's what happened.

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    I am both a Mario and Sonic fan, and I agree. It's way past time these two were treated as equals again. I've always had the belief that Mario was just as much of mascot with attitude as Sonic. I've played Mario's games because I thought they were cool and I've played Sonic's games because I thought they were fun. It's a shame people think fun and cool are two different words.

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