There’s no denying it: video gaming is cool again – is it still cool to say cool? – and so once more we look to the leaders of the video-game vanguard to tell us how to look, act and present ourselves. And even now, 30-something years on from the mainstream video-game boom of the 1990s, some of the key players that took to our screens then are still stomping goombas to this day.
This year, we celebrate the 35th anniversary of everyone’s favourite portly plumber , Super Mario, but – as I’m sure you’ll agree – when you think of someone ‘cool’, the dungaree-draped Italian stallion is hardly the first guy that comes to mind.
But, also back in the 90s, another stalwart of the gaming world sprinted into the picture. 1991 introduced the world Sonic the Hedgehog: the yin to Mario’s yang. Rocking some serious speed and giving Mario a literal run for his money, Sonic loop-the-looped his way into the public’s hearts – and boy did he look awesome doing it…
As we celebrate the blue blur’s 30th anniversary and the announcement that a brand-new Sonic game is tying its laces ready to re-join the race, here are five reasons that Sonic is – and always will be – so much cooler than our mate Mario.
1. His Original Name
Shakespeare once wrote “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, but I’ve had well over 150,000 days to think about that and, well… I disagree.
Case in point: Mario was, in his very first appearance in Donkey Kong back in 1981, known as Jumpman. And I’m sure, had he kept this original moniker, the reception for Super Jumpman 64, Super Jumpman Sunshine and Super Jumpman Odyssey would have been far less ‘super’.
Sonic, on the other hand, began life as Mr Needlemouse – and what an unbelievably fabulous name that is! Admittedly, Mr Needlemouse Colours as a game title does sound more like a crappy kids’ TV show than a blisteringly brilliant platforming game, but still… there’s no denying the name’s charm!
And yes. We’ll ignore the unconfirmed rumour that Sonic’s real name is Olgilvie Maurice Hedgehog…
2. His Music
Sure, Super Mario’s music might be a little more memorable, but that doesn’t make it cooler – after all, you can more easily hum The Sugababes than you can Jimi Hendrix…
Where Mario’s musical accompaniment is full of charm, colour and enough happy-happy-joy-joy to lift just about anyone’s funk, Sonic’s shred-heavy soundtracks simply ooze awesomeness. They add to his sense 110of speed and style, demanding that the player pick up the pace and squash Robotnik double-time.
Whether we’re bopping to Green Hill Zone’s bassy brilliance, or opening our ears to Sonic Adventure’s Open Your Heart, the head-banging hedgehog has us air-guitaring and air-drumming to his juicy jukebox.
Turn those speakers UP!
3. His Sidekicks
Look… I’m not saying Luigi is lame or anything, but he pees his plumber panties at the sight of some silly spirits. Our boi Tails, on the other hand, donned a mech suit and fought off Dr Robotnik on a bloody space station after watching his best friend get blown to smithereens. Now that’s a sidekick!
And if Tails isn’t your cup of tea, you’ve got hard-as-nails Knuckles, that sick son-of-a-bitch Shadow and even Silve–
Actually, the less said about Silver the better.
Anyway, my point is this: Mario has a mild-mannered mushroom man and a geeky green dinosaur by his side, whereas Sonic has a fox, an echidna, a bat and even occasionally a legit war machine in E-102 Gamma by his.
I know who I’m hitting the nightclub with!
4. His Movie
If someone asked me to go and see a movie about a pair of plumbers, I’d probably pinch some popcorn before giving it a hard pass. And if someone asked me to see that movie about a pair of plumbers, I wouldn’t even bother with the theft of their food.
I’ll admit that, when first glimpses of Sonic’s 2020 silver screen release bungled their way onto the internet, a part of me died inside. But after all of the technical tweaks had fixed Paramount Pictures’ pre-release disaster, the end result was actually a lot of fun. And it got greenlit for a sequel, which is far more than we can say for Mario’s ghastly visit to Hollywood.
The same can be said for each icon’s TV shows, too – while The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! had a certain charm (and catchy-as-all-hell theme song), the cartoon still wasn’t cool. Sonic, on the other hand, looked and felt like something sensational. It had attitude in an era that was all about that vibe, and being on the pulse means that’s another V for our hip little hedgehog.
5. His Superpowers
Mario isn’t short on abilities, that’s for sure: from his Viagra-adjacent Super Mushroom (don’t @ me), to the fluttery fantasticalness of his Tanooki Suit, he can do just about whatever it takes to save the princess and protect The Mushroom Kingdom.
But Sonic doesn’t need to consume suspiciously state-altering fungi to give his foes the heave-ho. He’s already lightning quick, has lethal quills and will outright gambol his way to glory – and that’s before we even mention the Chaos Emeralds.
Let Sonic loose on those seven bad boys, and our cobalt comrade dons a sexy golden sheen before not just saving some little kingdom but THE ENTIRE WORLD – and on more than one occasion, too.
I feel, even with Mario’s Super Star to counterattack Sonic’s fatal finishing moves, all that’d remain of Mario’s moustached mug after the battle would be his hat.
Which Sonic would no doubt sell on eBay to buy another pair of sick sneakers.
In the battle for video game bad-assery, Sonic the Hedgehog will always stand tall above Mario and his Stalin ‘stache. Of course, I will always love Mario and – whisper it – his games are far more fun, but it’ll always be that Sonic poster above my bed that impresses the ladies far more than my Mario Mushroom nightlight…
For more video game goodness, why not check out more of Glitchqraft’s content right here – he’s just about as cool as Sonic, just without the weird fetish for wearing white gloves…
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