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Mario and Sonic clash at the Olympics

Perrin Kaplan, Nintendo of America's VP of marketing, and Scott Steinberg, Sega of America's VP of marketing, swung by our offices in digital form (thank you, conference call), and here's what they had to say about Mario and Sonic finally meeting up.

Why put Mario and Sonic in the real world instead of their own respective worlds? Now we can't have them racing through crazy loops and throwing Sonic's gold rings around.

Scott: To answer this accurately, we kind of need to rewind the space time continuum to several years ago when the companies were getting closer and closer together. Could our shared IP really speak to what the fans have been clamoring for, and evidently, fighting for in 5th grade, to finally prove who's the best? The fact that we now have a world with the Wii and DS was a big step towards that, because it allowed us to bring some innovation. The Olympics were really the icing on the cake there because that gives us a context to be a family friendly product with high regard to sportsmanship and healthy competition. So we didn't necessarily take an arcadey approach because we felt that recipe didn't fit the bill relative to how to bring this game to a broader mass than just the hardcore gamer. This gives us a broader base to work with.

To go back even further, let's rewind and go back 15 plus years ago when the two companies were grappling for leadership. I was at Sega during those early '90s battles and Perrin was at Nintendo as well, so you're talking to people who've lived through that first hand. There was certainly more of a "mortal enemies" characteristic to the relationship. Now, over the past five years or so, the companies have been more promotionally minded and partners than they have mortal enemies. The brands of Sonic and Super Monkey Ball have done extremely well on Nintendo platforms, and that brought the companies closer together as business partners.

You mentioned innovation - was the ability to introduce something new a catalyst for this project?

Innovation based on the platforms, absolutely was a catalyst. It made sense now with both of those two machines, the exclusive platforms for this product. Additionally, having the context of the Olympics and sportsmanship made it that much more family friendly and appropriate for all ages. There were a few building blocks that happened to come together and from that came the magic. Innovation was enabled by the platforms, but obviously it's up to the game designers to articulate that innovation with the Wii Remote and DS stylus, and you'll be seeing that in announcements and demos to come in the future.

Is there any particular team working on this?

It's one of our sports teams, but we shouldn't forget to make mention of Mr. Miyamoto's involvement there, and maybe that's a great handoff to Perrin.

Perrin: Yeah, we're excited about that, of course we're excited because his time is so strapped. The products for both systems are at the top of his list, so that tells you something about our commitment to the relationship.

Was there ever a point, perhaps when talks first began, of executing this crossover in a way other than sports? Like a Smash Bros. style fighting game?

Scott: Hard to comment about that. Because the conversations were ongoing and we've been wanting to do something like this for quite a while, the [Olympics] wrapper began to make sense.

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