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."
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!