Nintendo's Mike Hayes
The news that for the first time, those once-sworn enemies Sonic and Mario are to appear in a game together Ė entitled Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games
Ė caused quite a stir. After all, back in the 16-bit days, the Super NES and Mega Drive fought tooth and nail to be the top console in the UK, with Mario and Sonic as their standard-bearers. Sonic creator Yuji Naka even described how he conceived Sonic, with his emphasis on speed, as a response to Marioís deliberate lack of speed.
But now, of course, Sega has bowed out of the console rat-race, and at last the two gaming icons can kiss and make up Ė and where better to do that than in the lovey-dovey setting of the Olympics? We managed to conduct an unprecedented joint interview with two of the companiesí biggest guns Ė Mike Hayes, President of Sega Europe, and Laurent Fischer, Marketing Director, Nintendo Europe.
They revealed, among other things, that Shigeru Miyamoto is involved in the project, even though Sega is developing it, and were even drawn into a bit of reminiscing about the days when both companies were at each otherís throats.
Whoís going to develop Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games
Itís being developed by Sega in Tokyo. But in the spirit of collaboration around the whole project, Miyamoto-san is going to be very involved.
What about Yuji Naka?
No, he doesnít work for Sega any more Ė he left about a year ago. But suffice to say, the team thatís working on the game is pretty bowled over about working with Miyamoto-san Ė itís quite a dream come true for them, and itís one of those things you would never dream would happen.
What is the game going to be like?
Itís inspired by the Olympics, and itís the first time that the IOC and ISM have allowed a game that is not a pure simulation. What the Olympic movement wants to do is reach out to a younger audience. Itís going to be based on the Olympics, so the stadia will be based on whatís in Beijing, but itís going to be Sonic- and Mario-ised, as you could imagine. It will have a lot of Olympic events in it, but of course it will be a fun game, using the attributes of the characters of both Nintendo and Sega.
Can you confirm which Sega and Nintendo characters will be in the game?
Weíre still working on the final list, but weíve definitely got Tails and Knuckles from the Sega side and Luigi and Yoshi from the Nintendo side.
Everyone remembers the 16-bit days when Sega and Nintendo were at each otherís throats Ė so how big a turnaround is this game?
I remember those days well, having worked at Nintendo from 1989 to 1994 Ė it was all part of that Nintendo-Sega rivalry. In those days, we used to get written up in all the glossy magazines, about how Nintendo stands for The Beatles and Wrangler jeans, while Sega stands for The Rolling Stones and Levis Ė all that kind of stuff. For me, personally, working for Sega is something I never would have thought would happen in those days, and bringing together these two characters is just unheard of.
Itís momentous, I think, from a gaming point of view. In the UK, it started out with the NES beating the Master System and then, of course, Game Boy beat Game Gear, but then the MegaDrive, which came out 18 months before the Super NES, with Sonic, reversed that. Those were interesting times Ė it was constantly about market share. Fortunately, today, from my side, itís a far more spread-out environment, with three console platforms, a big PC market, mobile, two handhelds Ė itís far less black and white than it used to be in those days.