29-Mar-2007 Interview: CVG, Sega and Nintendo discuss
CVG caught up with the president and chief operating officer of Sega Europe, Mike Hayes, and marketing director of Nintendo Europe to talk about the momentous event.
You have two huge characters that are both very different in nature - how will the game represent both characters in the same light?
Mike Hayes: Coming under the Olympic banner, I think the Olympics acts as a neutral ground for the two characters. We know that Sonic is fast and Mario is strong.
Both characters have different strengths. But having the Olympics is the perfect territory to bring them together because they can use their different skills in the events that we're going to have, which include track and field events, table tennis, swimming and more.
So rather than being in a Sonic or Mario world this is the perfect meeting place where both characters can bring out their own strengths in the different sports.
How will you balance the extremely differing skills of the characters in the game?
Hayes: It's too early to talk specifically about how this will work. Suffice to say that you will be able to play as all the characters and compete in any event.
So why were the Olympics chosen as the meeting ground for Mario and Sonic?
Hayes: "Obviously we were lucky enough to secure the Beijing 2008 Olympic licence about a year ago and so we were thinking about what we could do with that. Speaking to the IOC (International Olympics Committee), they really pushed home the spirit of sport for everyone, and their wanting to get younger people into the Olympics.
So rather than just doing a simulation we thought that we had some great characters that young people love and are very iconic. The idea started there, and then we thought that is would be perfect if Nintendo could bring Mario into it so we talked to Nintendo and they agreed it was a great idea. So it was actually from the Olympics that this was born.
This shows how video gaming globally is now so important - that Mario and Sonic are actually going to help bring in young people into the Olympics. That's quite a step forward for us in this business. And it's perfect because it's about competition but it's also about co-operation and friendliness.
Laurent Fischer: It's about gathering everyone, from young to old, together. And in that spirit, we thought this the best time for Sonic and Mario to be in a game together.
We already know that Shigeru Miyamoto will be involved in the development of the game - how much is Nintendo, as a whole, involved in the making of the game?
Laurent Fischer: Mr Miyamoto is always there when Mario is involved. I think it is a co-operative arrangement - they are there to share experiences and ideas.
But it is being primarily dealt with by Sega?
Hayes: Yes, but with very clear involvement of Nintendo. And I have to say that our team in Tokyo is thrilled to be working with the big man in videogames.
So are we going to see some sort of a trade-off deal? Sega's working on game with Mario, so will Nintendo be using Sonic in one of its games?
Laurent Fischer: It's too early to say right now. We are concentrating on completing this one.
Hayes: I think we have a very good relationship with Nintendo anyway, and it's great to come together. This is the one project planned at the moment but if we do work well together, who knows what will happen in the future?
There have been rumours about Sonic possibly appearing in Super Smash Bros. Brawl on Wii...?
Laurent Fischer: It is something that we've seen and heard a lot of from fans, but this is the game we're working on at the moment and nothing else is planned.
Discussing the possibility of Sonic and Mario appearing in the same game, Yuji Naka once told me that he was concerned about how different the two characters were. Is that one of your key concerns?
Hayes: Not at all. If is was a Sonic world and we Mario trying to run around collecting rings it wouldn't be right. So that is why the Olympics arena is perfect to bring them together. The two characters can compete quite sensibly in that environment.
The game is coming to both Wii and DS. How will the game innovatively make use of the controls systems on both machines?
Hayes: Again it's just a little to early so say categorically. We'll have something to show in the Summer. All I can say is that we'll be using the controls of both machines, particularly the Wii, to the max.
We all love Wii Sports and we've begun to see the great things that can be done with the Wii Remote so that's what we'll be focused on.
Check out the second half of the interview tomorrow, in which Laurent Fischer discusses Nintendo's key philosophies behind Wii and DS development, and Mike Hayes talks about the future of Sonic, and reveals how much of huge Mario fan he really is. Sonic and Mario in a game together is a big deal. After more than 20 years of rivalry, the two mascots have joined forces in the Sega-developed Mario and Sonic in the Olympic Games.