Nintendo and Sega have always been rivals, fighting for the same entertainment industry turf ever since the half a century younger Sega came on the scene and started producing amusement machines. As this infographic shows, it was in the 1980s that the real competition began, with Nintendo and Sega’s flagship consoles duking it out into the late 90s and even the very early 00s. But what about the companies’ respective mascots, who are in some ways better known than the consoles they represent?
Mario wasn’t a plumber in his first incarnation. Then going by the name of “Jumpman”, he sets out to save his girlfriend Pauline from his marauding pet ape (who, to be fair, only kidnapped Pauline because Mario had been mistreating him). It was in 1983 that he acquired the name Mario and was identified as an Italian-American plumber along with his brother Luigi. From 1977 onwards, the company’s logo remained red in his honour.
Sonic was born as a result of Sega deciding they wanted to replace Alex Kidd as the company masot, also wanting to create a character to rival Mario in popularity. Although a number of logo designs were considered (these including an armadillo, dog and rabbit), it was a hedgehog that was eventually chosen. Codenamed “Mr Needlemouse”, he was coloured blue in order to match the company logo while his distinctive red and white sneakers were allegedly inspired by Michael Jackson’s boots.
Like Mario (although arguably to a lesser extent), Sonic’s design has changed over time, with him having become taller and less round as well as gaining longer quills and green eyes (his having previously been colourless before). Mario’s design has largely remained the same over the years, his depiction only having really changed in response to improvements in the graphical technology used by Nintendo consoles.
Will Nintendo and Sega’s iconic characters, like the companies’ logos, change any further in the years to come? As before, only time – and designers’ whims – will tell.