It’s Debate Day here on Trope and Dagger, so this week we’re picking sides in a 90’s throwdown! Which game series was better: Sonic the Hedgehog or Super Mario? The series shall be limited to installments on Super Nintendo entertainment system vs. Sega Genesis! I’ll be backing my boy in blue, Sonic the Hedgehog! To hear Andy argue for Mario, go here: Andy’s wrong opinion
Let me get this out of the way: nowadays, Sonic kind of sucks. He had a major fall from grace when he transitioned into the 3rd dimension, and he has never recovered from it. But back when he was in glorious 2D 16-bit action, he truly ruled the video game landscape.
“What? No way, he was just a Mario knock off and cheap attempt to cash in on what was ‘hip’ in the 90s,” one might say, were that person a moron. It’s true that Sonic was created in an attempt to challenge Mario as a recognizable mascot, and it totally worked. Sonic exploded onto the scene and was latched onto as a cooler alternative to a fat plumber who keeps letting his girlfriend get kidnapped. Sonic was dangerous yet adorable, and his noble quest to free the animals from enslavement under Dr. Robotnik was something we could all get behind, as opposed to trying desperately to get laid, like Mario.
So how is the Sonic series better than Mario? Let’s explore that thought.
1. More games. Let’s say that you want to play some Super Mario for the SNES. What are your options? Well, there’s Super Mario World and…wait, that’s it? All the other Mario platforming games are just re-releases of NES Mario games? And Super Mario World 2 only focused on Yoshi protecting a baby version of Mario? What is that all about?
Let’s say that I want to play some Sonic the Hedgehog for Sega Genesis. Holy crap, I’ve got Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic & Knuckles, and I can plug Sonic the Hedgehog 2 or 3 INTO Sonic & Knuckles and play through those games as Knuckles?! Not to mention some Sonic Spinball, throwing Sonic into a whole new environment with a brand new style of play! Five games to choose from over the years? That is a lot of gameplay!
I know that Super Mario World is a longer game, but taking into account the fact that each game evolved and improved upon the last one, I’d say that Sonic games give you much more throughout their span. They create new features, such as the spin dash, different special zones, and being able to play as different characters with different abilities.
2. True Multiplayer. So let’s say that there’s more than 1 person who wants to play video games at a given time. Like, you have a friend over or your kid sibling wants to play, too. Sure, you could put in Super Mario World and take turns, but who really wants to do that? I hate waiting, don’t you? It’s the worst, especially when the other person sucks butt at the game. But you know who’s got your back? Sonic the Hedgehog. Introduced in Sonic 2, Miles “Tails” Prower was the savior of visiting friends and younger siblings everywhere. Sharing the screen, Sonic and Tails would fly through levels, rescuing woodland creatures from entrapment and swatting Dr. Robotnik from stage to stage. Sure, the focus would be on Sonic, but whenever Tails would get lost, he would simply fly to catch up to Sonic and jump right back into the action! It was great! Additionally, in Sonic 3 the player could make Tails fly and carry Sonic, allowing access to new parts of the map and encouraging cooperation. It was a huge milestone in the world of multiplayer games, something that Mario simply ignored on the SNES. Tails let a friend help you kick ass.
3. Motivation. So what’s the point in Super Mario World? Bowser took your girlfriend, you’ve got to save her. The same thing that he’s been doing for several previous games already. That pasta is a little stale, my friend. What’s the point of Sonic the Hedgehog? Oh, only saving the entire animal kingdom from enslavement by the evil Dr. Robotnik! How’s that grab ya? Who’s the true hero here, a fat plumber who only gets out of bed to try and impress his princess girlfriend? Or a selfless hedgehog who is running as fast as he can in order to stop a madman who is capturing innocent creatures and encasing them in hard metal robots in order to do his bidding? I mean, I know who I’d nominate as the true hero here, and it’s definitely not the horny shlub who is killing innocent goombas and koopas all day to try and get his noodle wet. And speaking of animal abuse, have you noticed that Mario punches Yoshi in the back of his head to get him to stick his tongue out? He forces this dinosaur to eat and eat by punching the back of its head until it craps itself. It doesn’t get more twisted than that. No wonder Yoshi runs every chance he gets, even going so far as to kill himself in pits to get away from the monstrous Mario.
4. Game Play. When it all boils down to it, I find Sonic games to be more fun to play than Super Mario World. I love going through the loops, charging up a killer spin dash, chasing after Robotnik when you defeat one of his insane boss robotic contraptions, and earning some true speed. It was so rewarding in the Genesis Sonic games to get some real speed going, and watching yourself fly, tucked into a blue death blur, is a thrill that few games can replicate. Mario certainly didn’t produce feelings like that while playing, only the hedgehog was able to do that. Though Tails and Knuckles did later on, too, which just goes to show that Sonic is a good guy who doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight.
It’s for these reasons and more that I will continue to go back and visit the Genesis Sonic the Hedgehog games. I will chase Dr. Robotnik from the Green Hill to the Death Egg Zone over and over, while Mario can cry into a cannoli.