The first ‘great console war’ was fought during the 90s: SEGA versus Nintendo. It was a pretty epic battle between two titans, both of which had incredibly popular franchises leading the charge. Many gamers who weren’t around at that time have heard about the iconic phrases that defined that period, such as “Genesis Does What Nintendon’t”, and “Now You’re Playing With Power!”. Fun times, don’t you agree?
Since it was such a huge battle between these two companies, many people were absolutely shocked in 2001 when Sonic Adventure 2: Battle was released on the GameCube. Having only been a few months since the game’s release on the failed Dreamcast, it was a surprise to see the first console Sonic crossover to ending up being a Nintendo system after SEGA had to shutdown its hardware business.
The years since then have been pretty calm for both companies. Sonic has now become a mainstay in the Nintendo family; like an adopted of cousin of sorts. There have been many exclusive Sonic titles released on the Wii and DS and even a collection of games from a three-year contract with Nintendo which brought titles exclusively to the Wii U and 3DS. Of course, Sonic has also come in contact with Mario directly in the Mario & Sonic at the Olymic Games series, which has been in existence for nearly a decade now, and also the latest two entries in the Super Smash Bros. series. So, how did this all come about? Former SEGA-executive and of Sonic’s creators Yuji Naka, along with current Sonic Team lead Takashi Iizuka and Nintendo’s legendary Shigeru Miyamoto recently had an interview with Game Informer where they discussed the two companies volatile history and recent partnership.
— SOURCE: GAME INFORMER —
Naka discusses SEGA’s transition to a third-party company after DreamCast’s demise:
“It’s very sad that Sega’s hardware business was canceled, but this allowed Sonic to run over a variety of different platforms. This made it so more people were able to play and enjoy Sonic games than ever.”
The article notes that Takashi Iizuka spoke to SEGA of America soon after he had heard of Sonic going multiplatform to urge them to get the series on Nintendo’s systems. Going by this, apparently the ‘taboo’ was in the works almost immediately after the DreamCast was terminated. History shows that this process was rapidly carried out as Sonic Adventure 2: Battle was released on the GC just six months after the game’s original DC release.
Iizuka comments on how Sonic fans were upset with the move to Nintendo platforms:
“From my perspective, yeah, the companies may have been at war from a promotional standpoint – there was a lot of rivalry being created. As hardware manufacturers, you’re always out there competing against everyone else in the marketplace, but for me, I was just out there to make the greatest games possible, and bring them to as many people as possible.”
The article notes that SEGA and Nintendo began entertaining the idea of having Mario and Sonic come together in the same game after SA2: Battle was released. It was actually Yuji Naka who first came up with the idea, but he departed SEGA before it come to full fruition. Even so, the two companies still kept discussing it after Naka left.
Shigeru Miyamoto comments on the possibility of having Mario and Sonic in an action game:
“I always thought it would be great to have Sonic and Mario in the same game, but if you put them in an action game, the feeling of speed is very different, so it wouldn’t have worked.”
The article notes that different ideas were put on the table and discussed, but it was eventually agreed on that cross-over games needed to be on equal ground, thus what we have with the Olympic Games series and Super Smash Bros. Takashi Iizuka also commented:
“I started this conversation with Nintendo, and then later when Sega picked up the license for the Olympic Games video games, we had that foundation with Nintendo to say ‘We want to bring Sonic and Mario together and have them appear in the same world and have them compete against each other, and we’re going to use the premise of it being the Olympic Games and these characters are participating in the Olympic Games together to make that happen.’ It was the first great conversation about getting these characters together to compete and have fun together.”
— (Shameless self-plug): We actually have an entire article and video dedicated to this very idea, so check it out. —
Ivo Gerscovich (Sonic’s Chief Brand Officer) comments the end of the series’ Nintendo exclusivity:
“That relationship greatly benefited both Nintendo and ourselves, but now we’re coming up to the end of that exclusivity and we’re excited about being on all platforms. They’ve been great partners of ours and there’s a great respect between both companies.”
SEGA officially declared that Sonic would be returning to being a multiplatform series earlier this year at the special 20th Anniversary Party. Two new games were announced, Sonic Mania and Project Sonic 2017, both of which will be coming to major platforms next year.
So there you have it — quite a lot went into SEGA and Nintendo’s current relationship. As controversial as a transition it was, the Sonic series has been enjoying 15 years of success on Nintendo’s platforms, along with the joint-effort of the Mario & Sonic series.
Definitely check out the full article on Game Informer as it goes a little more in-depth than the points that were made here.