September 24, 2021

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When Sonic and Mario dominated children’s television

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The Adventures of Sonic was one of the few animated shows that was elevated to the position of being recorded onto VHS tapes in the Ahmed household. It was difficult given both of my siblings were older, but it was possible. My brother, despite also being a gamer back then, found the shows too silly. Eventually, things like Saved by the Bell and Hang Time catering for non-kids would muscle through, ending my relationship with animated shows soon after. (RIP Cardcaptors.)

With the recent releases of new Sonic and Super Mario games, I started to wonder how on earth Sega and Nintendo agreed to licence their golden IP like this. Both mascots were pitted against each other in playgrounds across the globe, even though we all know Sonic is clearly better. Personally, I’m still amazed whenever I notice a Sonic game released on a Nintendo console. So, I agreed to do God’s work to find out more, given nobody seems to remember these shows anyway.

“[The production company] DiC was a force at the time,” says Phil Harnage, a writer on The Adventures of Sonic as well as all three iterations of Super Mario on television: The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 and also Super Mario World. It sounds strange now to think that one company was involved with both Sonic and Super Mario in any way in the 90s, but Harnage puts that down to DiC’s head, Andy Heyward. “He was a savvy businessman and a master salesman,” he declares. It’s hard to disagree. DiC was behind some of the biggest animation shows of the 80s and 90s, including Inspector Gadget, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Dennis the Menace and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures.

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