Darth vs Luke, Superman and kryptonite, ketchup against gravy - these are some of the all time great battles that have been fought out between our heroes. There is however one face-off that has always ruled above all else, the tale of a pesky plumber and a speedy hedgehog, the battle of Mario vs Sonic.
The pair form the two most iconic characters in gaming history and have since their creation acted as Nintendo and Sega's frontmen. Recent years have seen Sonic fall second to Mario, with the success of the Wii and a poor run of hedgehog-based games. But with the arrival his 20th anniversary, and Sonic Generations looking to be a return to form for Sega's franchise, we thought it best to pit the pair against each other and see how things stand.
First up, it's the vital statistics. Who are these guys, where are they from and how do their pixel forms compare to real world markers? Mario
Home TownBrooklynAge30Weight15stHeight5'6"OccupationPlumberFavourite FoodMushroomsEnemiesBowser, Donkey Kong, WarioFriendsLuigi, Peach, Toad, Yoshi
Home TownChristmas IslandAge15Weight9stHeight5'9"OccupationUnemployedFavourite FoodChilli Dogs, Rings?EnemiesDr.Robotnik, botniks, spike pits, water, Robot SonicFriendsKnuckles, Super Sonic, Amy, Tails,
Who is tougher?
With both Mario and Sonic it's important to remember that they have spent their entire careers stomping on things' heads. Personally we think this makes them hard enough already. Can you imagine what it would feel like to have a black booted 15 stone plumber jump on your face?
Crucially both can withstand more than one hit from a baddie; Sonic needs rings, Mario requires mushrooms. Where the Italian gets the jump on the hedgehog is when it comes to power-ups. Unlike the spiked mammal, who is built for outright speed, Mario can shoot fire and fly, which is a necessary for battle in our books. Then again, Sonic does have the ability to run incredibly fast, up walls and bounce himself hundreds of feet through the air.
To really establish who of the pair is the toughest, we need to think of the sort of guys they regularly take on in a fight. Mario's world is inhabited by slightly less than scary walking mushrooms and cutesy ghosts, with not even Bowser himself being particularly tough to tackle. Sonic however lives in some sort of mech-filled hell ruled by an all powerful evil Dr who traps innocent animals inside his robotic monstrosities. Couple that with in-level hazards like oil, earthquakes, spike pits and lava and it's clear that the blue hedgehog is definitely the more hardy of the two.
Who is cooler?
You couldn't really accuse either Sonic or Mario of being particularly well dressed. The big M sports a pair of dungarees, and a hat from the 1920s, in red. Sonic on the other hand is, well...almost entirely naked. This means choosing who is the coolest of the two is particularly tough.
Mario's fashion sense is most definitely outdated, he may very well be a plumber but hanging out in your work clothes has never been cool, besides, he dresses like a six month old baby. On the other hand, that moustache might fit in with some of the trendier indie and scenester types, so he could fall into the geek chic category complete with East London irono-tache. It is also worth mentioning that Mario has a bit of a worrying dressing up obsession. Tanooki suits are most definitely not cool.
Sonic, whilst wearing virtually nothing at all manages to maintain a unique sense of cool. His nudist approach to things lets people know that 'hey man, I'm cool with my body', a kind of confidence Mario clearly doesn't have. Most importantly however is the trainers, which quite frankly are the coolest of in-game garb around. Red shoes with a white stripe and ultra-futuristic no laces required? Yes please. White socks and gloves to keep hands and feet warm, very wise. The haircut is also a bonus. Granted, a full body mohawk is not going to be easy to style in the mornings, but boy does it look good when he gets it right.
One thing we should point out is that Mario does have a slightly worrying obsession with Peach. Every game is spent trying to save her from the clutches of evil Bowser. He just keeps coming back for more and Peach laps it up. This kind of wrapped round her little finger relationship is never cool by any means. Sonic however appears to avoid women entirely and, short of brief appearances from Amy, it looks like the hedgehog is too fast for women.
Who carries their age better?
Technically speaking, Sonic the Hedgehog is 15 years old and always has been but, let's face it, it's his 20th anniversary, so he's 20. All the same, at 20 years old, Sonic is easily the younger of the pair, with Mario now due a mid-life crisis tipping the scales at 30. But with age comes wisdom. Whilst Sonic smashes towards everything at lightning speed, Mario will take his time, carefully constructing Bowser's downfall.
Mario doesn't waste his time battling bosses on multiple occasions either. He will normally get rid of Bowser just once in every game, dealing with his pesky minions prior. Sonic, however, will repeatedly take on Dr Robotnik in whatever creation he has devised, never thinking to just pull him out of it and clobber him on the head.
Youth does mean that Sonic has retained his figure, whereas Mario is starting to pile on the pounds a bit. We doubt his diet is of much benefit either. Can you imagine eating nothing but mushrooms and flowers? His breath must smell pretty funky.
Importantly neither of them have really aged. Either both have access to Holy Grail, or they are simply stuck in some sort of time warp. Given Mario was about 40 when things got started in 1981, he should be pushing 70 right now.
Who is a better marriage prospect?
Employment, employment, employment; something crucial to any stable marriage. Plumbers are well known for the amount of money they can make out of their water-managing expertise, so Mario is likely to be loaded. Given that Peach lives in a gigantic castle however, things aren't exactly a Kate and Wills situation. Mario is going to have to up his game in the class stakes if he wants to marry the kind of women that he hangs out with.
Sonic however is going to face massive arthritis and joint problems when he gets older. He will need constant care and attention from a spouse after all those years of tearing through Green Hill Zone. Being a hedgehog also means that he is in constant danger when crossing the road, something worth considering if you plan a lengthy retirement together. As far as matrimonials go, well let's say you'll either be into those spikes or you won't.
Who is more famous?
Both Mario and Sonic have earned their places in San Francisco's 'Walk of Game', which sees their names engraved in steel stars alongside such icons as Lara Croft and Shigeru Miyamoto. In order to truly quantify the extent of their fame we are going to need to look further into the characters' position as worldwide phenomenons.
First things first, Mario has a film made about himself and pal Luigi. Starring Bob Hoskins as Mario and the raptor out of Jurassic Park as Yoshi, this real world take on the life of the plumbers might have flopped, but it certainly has its charms. Super Mario Bros 3 was also very cleverly shown in public for the first time in Universal Studio's The Wizard.
Sonic does have a cartoon series but so does Mario, so looks like the pair are about even stevens when it comes to television coverage. Then again, the Wii's sales success, coupled with media coverage of its launch, might mean Mario just has the edge over things when it comes to invading our living rooms.
When it comes to games themselves, both Mario and Sonic have been prolific. The mustachioed Italian has managed over 200 different titles that go all the way back to 1981, with Donkey Kong Arcade being the first. Sonic didn't really get started until home consoles became popular, but even then he manages an impressive 160. Both then have more than enough pieces of software to be considered video game giants.
Toys-wise it is a difficult one to argue. Both Sonic and Mario have been transformed into figurines, plush toys, posters and bed spreads. So we thought it best to go on who had the absolutely most over the top piece of memorabilia. For Sonic it was the long rumoured set of specially made Nike Dunk shoes, which matched his own in game offerings. Mario however went and totally decimated that offering with a special take on Mario Kart take on Scalextric.
So who is the more famous of the two. Impossible to answer, you ask anyone over the age of eight around the world who either character is and we doubt they wouldn't be able to tell you.
Who has better mates?
Ok so when it comes to pals neither Sonic or Mario are exactly lacking. The blue hedgehog boasts chums like an echidna and even a triple tailed fox. The plumber on the other hand has a flock of mushrooms for mates, with a lankier version of himself, dressed in green, as an accomplice. We're not sure which would be better on the pub conversation front. But personally we like the idea of sharing a pint with a talking fox that can fly.
Then again, everybody likes meeting a princess, especially one who has a massive castle full of mushroom servants. Get in there with Peach and it looks like you could be sorted for life.
Who makes a better game?
Oh dear..We did it. The question has been asked. Which games are better, Mario or Sonic? Base this question on some of Sega's more recent releases and Mario would be an outright winner. For the purposes of this vs however we want to look just at their 2D escapades.
What it comes down to really is the battle between Mario and Sonic on the Sega Mega Drive and NES. The two consoles are where the platforming pair really made a name for themselves. There is no doubt that both were responsible for some of the greatest moments in gaming history. The problem is that these moments, whilst on the face of it might seem similar, were in fact totally different.
Mario was all about platforming finesse, with games like Super Mario Bros being entirely about accuracy and carefully constructed jumps. When the formula got it right the resultant experience was fun in its purest form. Sonic however was a totally different setup, the aim being to blast through levels as quick as possible, keeping up momentum by jumping and bashing baddies as you went along. This meant for a much more thrilling game, which whilst not quite as a refined experience as Mario, could satisfy any gaming thirst.
We are going to be a bit controversial here and say that we prefer the earlier Sonic games to Mario's offerings. Sonic 2 is about as good as it gets for us, but Super Mario Bros 3 comes so incredibly close that the gap is as thin as a whisker on Mario's moustache.
But then comes the recent Sonic and Mario games. Never again was Sega to quite nail that ultra addictive formula they found on the Mega Drive. Nintendo however continued to expand their platforming concepts, reaching an absolute peak with Super Mario 64, which for us is possibly the greatest game we have ever played. The outright speed of the Sonic games just didn't translate well into the 3D universe, creating things like Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast, which was a particular low point.
Where do the characters go from here?
Thankfully Sega looks like they might have finally learned from their mistakes, taken a leaf out of Nintendo's book and expanded on the classic Sonic formula with Generations, the new game shown at this years E3. They have taken the best levels from Sonic games that span the last 20 years and redesigned them in both 2D side scrolling and 3D guises. Whether they ever nail that experience found on the Mega Drive all those years ago remains to be seen, but one things for sure, a return to side scrolling for Sonic is definitely not a bad thing.
Nintendo continues to grow and grow, bringing the massively addictive Mario Kart franchise to the 3DS as well as showing off plans for Super Mario 3D. The latter is undoubtedly the one to get the most excited about. For those who have played Super Mario Galaxy, you are likely aware of the knack that Nintendo has for making brilliantly inventive and playable platformers. It all depends on what exactly Ninty does with the double-screen and 3D element of their new portable. The feeling of depth is definitely going to make a major difference to Mario's jumping antics.
There is nothing we want more than for Sega to get it right with Sonic Generations and return the hedgehog to his platforming pedestal. But until the game is released it looks like we might have to hand the crown over to Mario. Forget the fashion faux pas, Peach obsession and mid-life gut, it's the gaming that matters and right now you can't get better than Nintendo.
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