- This article is about the franchise. For the character, see Mario (character).
The Mario franchise is a media franchise owned by Nintendo. The Mario franchise primarily consists of video games, and it centers around the titular protagonist Mario, an Italian plumber who serves as the hero of a realm called the Mushroom Kingdom. Shigeru Miyamoto is credited as being the person who created the Mario franchise. The first installment of the Mario franchise is Mario Bros., released in 1983. However, Mario made his first appearance and starring role in the arcade game Donkey Kong, part of the franchise of the same name. Despite this, Nintendo does not appear to see Mario as a franchise spun off from Donkey Kong. Although Mario Bros. was the first Mario series, the Super Mario series is the main series, to the point of the franchise sometimes being named Super Mario. Mario has two spinoff franchises, Yoshi and Wario.
Although Sega has not created any Mario games, they received a license from Nintendo in 2007 to include Mario content alongside Sonic the Hedgehog in the crossover Mario & Sonic series. The Mario & Sonic series consists of Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog characters competing against one another in the Olympic Games. This reflects how Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog, the flagships of Nintendo and Sega respectively, were real-world rivals, especially the platformer games, up until Sega became a third-party game developer in 2001. The Mario & Sonic series exhibits friendly rivalry between the Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog characters.
History with Sonic the Hedgehog
Super Mario rivalry
The earliest similarity, which was intentional from the start, was for the Sega Genesis game Sonic the Hedgehog to compete with the Super Mario series, having often highlighted Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario World in particular. Yuji Naka was inspired to create Sonic the Hedgehog by frequently speedrunning the first level of Super Mario Bros., World 1-1.
One commercial for Sonic the Hedgehog featured Bernita Stokes, President of H.A.G. (Humans Against Genesis), who criticized the game. At one part, she said, "Why can't he be more like that nice boy Mario?".
Another Sonic the Hedgehog commercial features a salesman trying to convince a consumer to buy a Super Nintendo Entertainment System with Super Mario World at a launch price of $199.95. A Sega Genesis playing Sonic the Hedgehog is shown to the right, at sale for $149.99. The customer ultimately decides to buy a Sega Genesis with Sonic the Hedgehog due to the game's fast-paced action and the bundle being at a lower price. This disappoints the salesman, as he instead wanted the costumer to choose the Super Nintendo with Super Mario World.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! Bonus Disc
In 2003, the Mario Kart: Double Dash!! Bonus Disc, a Nintendo GameCube disc included with pre-ordered North American copies of Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, included demos and videos of upcoming Nintendo GameCube games at the time. Among the playable demos was Sonic Heroes, which featured two levels that have the option of playing as either Team Sonic or Team Dark.
DiC Entertainment, who produced three Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon series — Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Sonic Underground — also did three for Mario: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, and Super Mario World. All six shows had a run during the 1990s, but the Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog shows were not packaged together on home video until the 2000s, after Sega became a third-party.
On July 22, 2003, King Koopa Katastrophe was released on both DVD and VHS, and aside from having a few The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 episodes, King Koopa Katastrophe also includes the Sonic Underground episode "Sonic Tonic," although only in the original Sterling release. Similarly, Dr. Robotnik's Revenge, which released on DVD and VHS the same day, includes a few Sonic Underground episodes and a The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! episode "Do You Princess Toadstool Take this Koopa...?," also only available on the Sterling release of the DVD.
On December 4, 2007, DiC and Shout! Factory released a limited edition DVD box set that bundled The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3: The Complete Series and Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog Volume 1 together.
Super Mario Maker
In Super Mario Maker, using the Sonic the Hedgehog amiibo allows Mario to transform into an 8-bit form of Sonic by using a Mystery Mushroom. The costume can also be obtained by completing the 100 Mario Challenge mode.
Similarities to Sonic the Hedgehog
The Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog franchises have both gone into similar territory with one another with the games for their respective series. Some of these similarities have been intentional, such as when they were real-world competitors, while others may be coincidental. Even as a third-party, Sega has produced some Sonic the Hedgehog games in a similar vein to those from the Mario franchise, such as for kart racing, golf, tennis, and sports in general. Sonic the Hedgehog franchise has some counterparts to subjects within the Mario franchise, such as how Rings are its equivalent to Coins from the Mario franchise. Some of these similarities are explored in the Mario & Sonic series, particularly within Dream Events.
Sonic the Hedgehog has some similarities to the 2D Super Mario series games, Super Mario Bros. in particular. One similarity is how Sonic can defeat several Badniks by jumping on them, like how Mario can defeat certain enemies, most notably Goombas, via the same method. After clearing a boss fight, Sonic rescues some animals, like how Mario rescues a Mushroom Retainer after defeating a fake Bowser in Super Mario Bros.. Like Mario, Sonic debuted in a game outside of his own franchise, Rad Mobile in particular.
There are two pinball games featuring Sonic as a ball, Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball and Sonic Pinball Party, released in 1993 and 2003 respectively. The Mario franchise did not have its own game with Mario as a pinball until the release of Mario Pinball Land, released in 2004.
The Sonic the Hedgehog franchise features several racing games, some of which are kart racers similar to the Mario Kart series. The Sonic the Hedgehog franchise has expanded of different styles of racing games, such as Sonic R mainly featuring characters running by foot or the Sonic Riders series featuring characters racing on hover boards.
Wacky Worlds Creativity Studio, released in 1994, was Sega's response to Nintendo's Mario Paint, which released earlier in 1992. Both are art games that had their own peripheral designed to be used with the game.
While the Mario Golf series has been around since 1999, Sonic would not appear in a golf game until in 2006, with the release of Sonic Golf 3D. Similarly, Sonic the Hedgehog did not have a tennis game in response to the Mario Tennis series until the release of the crossover game Sega Superstars Tennis in 2008.
In 2000, the party game Sonic Shuffle was released as Sega's answer to Mario Party. Both games even had Hudson Soft as their developer. This is not the first instance of a company working both Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog media before Sega became a third-party game developer, given that DiC Entertainment produced both Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons in the 1990s.
For the Game Boy Advance, both Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog have their own platforming series with "Advance" in the title, Super Mario Advance and Sonic Advance respectively. A large difference is that the Super Mario Advance series has remakes of 2D Mario platformers whereas the Sonic Advance series are original games.
Some of the Sonic the Hedgehog platformers have a similar theme to a Mario game. For instance, in Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic is wrongfully accused of doing something wrong — stealing a Chaos Emerald — like how Mario was wrongfully accused of polluting Isle Delfino in Super Mario Sunshine. Another example is Sonic Colors, which takes place in outer space, and it involves Sonic traveling between different planets, like what Mario does in both Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2. In Sonic and the Black Knight, Sonic uses a talking weapon, like how Mario uses FLUDD in Super Mario Sunshine. In Sonic Generations, Sonic teams up with his younger self, Classic Sonic, like how in the role-playing game Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time Mario and his brother Luigi team up with their younger selves, Baby Mario and Baby Luigi, respectively.
- Sonic the Comic has a group of characters known as the Marxio Brothers, based on Mario and Luigi (often referred to as the Mario Bros.) and the classic comedians, The Marx Brothers.
- "How Mario inspired Sonic: Yuji Naka". Official Nintendo Magazine. Published October 12, 2010. (archive.is backup)
- "The Adventures Of Super Mario Bros. 3 & Adventures Of Sonic The Hedgehog". Shout! Factory Store (archived on archive.is).