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Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo) versus Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega)
Choosing sides: The character you picked in this bitter rivalry may well have decided who your friends were. In one corner you've got Mario, always doing something fun and silly, be it throwing fireballs, wearing a cape or growing a raccoon tail. But in the other corner is a fast 'n' furious speedster who's actually got a personality. He's new, he's edgy, he's everything Mario isn't. The games didn't play anything alike, but that didn't stop the entire planet from enduring this intense 10-year face-off.
Highlights: Mario reigned supreme through the NES days, but in 1991, everything came into question. The cute and cheery ways of SNES megapower Super Mario World were actually facing competition from a foot-tapping rival that emphasized excitement over exploration. Sonic didn't want you to dick around looking for warp zones and secret coins, he wanted you to RUN and RUN some more. RUN through a loop, RUN for some rings, RUN to the boss, then RUN to the next level. Always move forward, who cares about what's behind, right? These two distinctly different philosophies cut the gaming community in half. You were a Nintendo gamer or you were a Sega gamer, and that was it. People would spit, throw things, even take a swing or two if you said their platform sucked. It was unheard of then, and such an intense difference of gaming opinion has never since appeared. We are so glad internet forums did not exist in 1992. If people were willing to get into physical fights, what kind of insanity would have broken out thanks to the anonymity of the web?
The outcome: After Sega's numerous hardware losses (Sega CD, 32X, Saturn, Dreamcast), not even Sonic was cool enough to buoy the entire company. Even his reputation has fallen, a meteoric downward spiral filled with awful supporting characters, terrible gameplay and utterly idiotic storylines. Still, Nintendo fans bought Sonic titles in droves when they appeared on the GameCube, ensuring the franchise's future. Sega and Nintendo are now pretty tight, as evidenced by the upcoming Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games and the successful GBA and DS Sonic titles. The once angriest of foes are now practically best buds.
The only sour point to this story is that there has yet to be a definitive victor in a one-on-one fight between Mario and Sonic, and the 2008 Olympic Games are not the venue we want to see the feud settled at. Rumors continue to fly that Sonic may appear in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. If that's the case, it'll be Nintendo who wins this decade-long battle - the sales from Brawl alone could keep Wii afloat for years to come.
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