Mario & Sonic Switch devs on why the game features 8-bit Mario while Sonic is 16-bit
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 introduces a feature we’ve never seen before in the series. A bunch of retro events are included, which lets players experience the game with a classic look and feel.
One point of interest has been the manner in which SEGA approached the graphical style. Sonic is right out of the 16-bit era, but Mario maintains his original 8-bit look from Super Mario Bros. A little while back, producer Nobuya Ohashi and director Noahiro Hirao spoke about the decision in an interview with 4Gamer.
On the topic of how to display the characters in their retro forms, there was a visual generation gap between the Super Mario Bros. characters and Sonic characters. SEGA ended up meeting with Nintendo and the Olympics committee involved to decide on which pixel art to use.
“We received feedback suggesting we have the animations of the Mario characters in parity with the Sonic designs, since the Sonic characters had more images to work with. And then Nintendo suggested their idea to use 8-bit versions of their characters. We had a really good time figuring things out – we could only move characters by rotating them by 90 degrees, and we had to go back to using the old rules of yesteryear (Laughs). And then there were the obvious issues like with Peach; she only had one image, so how were we going to animate her? Well, by giving her a shaking animation bit by bit, from top to bottom… it really made her look like she was running (Laughs).”