If you were to travel back to the early 90s and tell the fans of either Sega or Nintendo that the pair would eventually end up burying the hatchet, and making games together, they'd probably have laughed in your face. Bitter rivals for several generations of consoles, Sega launched many vicious, or at times even petty marketing campaigns over the years – with slogans such as the “Genesis does what Nintendon't”, or the particularly catchy campaign for their Game Boy rival, the Game Gear “If you were colour blind and had an IQ less than 12 then you wouldn't care which portable you had. Of course, you wouldn't care if you drank from the toilet either". But when Sega's fortunes took a turn for the worst following their ill-fated (but still really good) Dreamcast, the company were forced to patch things up with their arch nemesis - first, making games for Nintendo's consoles, then putting Sonic and Mario together, in the same game - before deciding to take their relationship to a whole other level, having signed a deal to make the next Sonic games exclusive to the Wii U and 3DS.
It's a deal that makes a fair amount of sense for both parties, as the Sonic games have long been huge sellers on the console. While other companies sometimes struggled to shift their games, Sonic found his feet on the Wii, and hit the ground running, with the original Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games sold over 11.3 million copies across the Wii and DS. Both the Wii and DS also had a number of exclusive Sonic platform games too, such as the amazing Sonic Colours, Sonic and the Secret Rings and Sonic Rush Adventure to name but a few. Since the days of the Wii's predecessor, the GameCube, Sonic games have been selling best on Nintendo consoles – in fact, Sega's anniversary game, Sonic Generations, which never got a Wii release, was one of the worst selling Sonic games of recent years, selling much less than many of the Wii-only games.
The recently signed deal ties the blue blur to Nintendo platforms - i.e. the Wii U and/or the 3DS for the next three games. Of these three games, two have so far been announced – the first being a new entry in the Mario & Sonic series, called Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, while the second is set to be a brand new platformer known only as 'Sonic Lost World' at the moment. Which leaves one title still to be announced, although rumours floating around the internet seem to hint at what it may be...
Tweets taken from the account of the producer at Sumo Digital – the team behind both previous Sonic Racing games – showed him contemplating how best to follow on from All-Stars Racing Transformed whist knocking back a beer. Drawn into a conversation with another Twitter user, the initial suggestion of downloadable add-ons was pooh-poohed, with the producer instead suggesting settling the age old argument of “who'd really win a kart race”, before following it up with “there are bigger rivals” than the Pac-Man World Rally crossover that was suggested. We know Nintendo are planning on a new Mario Kart for the Wii U, but perhaps we're going to see a Mario & Sonic racing title too?
As nice as that may be, the partnership signals a new era in the Sega/Nintendo friendship, and one we'd love see taken that little bit further - perhaps even leading to Sega becoming a sole-Nintendo developer. The way things are going at the moment, it would at least seem to make sense. Back when Sega's last console, the Dreamcast, lost the support of EA – much like the Wii U has now – Sega stepped in to fill the sports game shaped hole in the line up with their own brand of sports games, which more than competed with EA's behemoth. With history repeating itself, and EA abandoning the Wii U, could Sega step in to fill the gap? After all, their style certainly matches that of Nintendo's - and just think of everything else they could bring to the table - something amazing, like a new Jet Set Radio, a much demanded sequel to one of our favourite role playing games of all time, Skies of Arcadia, or, dare we say it, even Shenmue 3. Nintendo seem to have found themselves in a fix, and they need games to get them our of it. If a combo of Nintendo and Sega could bring sequels to our favourite Dreamcast titles, then we'd wager the only thing the Wii U would still have to worry about would be keeping enough consoles on store shelves.
We Nintendo and Sega going together like bread and butter, the deal is certainly a logical one - although we'd very much like to see it taken that little bit further. With one exclusive title still to be revealed, we're imagining more information will creep out in the coming weeks as we approach the year's largest gaming convention, E3 – so stay tuned.