Growing up in the age of Sega versus Nintendo, the appeal of the so called ‘console wars’ is not lost on me – even today, my love of the Sega Mega Drive is unwavering. But after years of conflict, do you know what sticks out as a far better memory? Sonic the Hedgehog appearing in Super Smash Brothers.
The rivalled history between Nintendo and Sega made the concept of Sonic appearing in a Nintendo title feel as far-fetched as Doom running on a pregnancy test. And yet, despite all that, an effort to collaborate was made, giving the fans exactly what they wanted and signalling a new relationship for these two companies.
The recent announcement of Minecraft’s Steve as the next DLC character for Super Smash Bros Ultimate brought these memories flooding back. Minecraft is one of Microsoft’s biggest properties, but the gesture of having Steve in Super Smash – and in a Switch exclusive title no less – truly feels like an instance of putting the gamer first.
Moments like this can be quite rare in the gaming industry, but recent events have shown a budding relationship between Nintendo and Microsoft, and I for one am all for it. Previously assumed Xbox exclusives like the Ori series and Cuphead and since found their way to the Nintendo Switch, while after much anticipation from fans, Microsoft lent another character to Smash Bros with Banjo & Kazooie.
Related: Best Switch games
While these events might not seem like much on the surface, they go a long way in establishing a good faith relationship with gamers at large. The same can be said for Microsoft’s next-gen strategy. Not only is the Xbox Series S the most affordable option of any of the next-gen consoles, but Game Pass continues to be one of the best deals I’ve ever come across as a gamer – I still don’t understand how it’s a profitable endeavour, but the sheer value for money offered by the service is unreal.
Unfortunately, it’s on the flipside of this equation that Sony currently finds itself in a rut. After dragging its heels with utilising crossplay – a feature that should be implemented by default in the modern age – and the company’s lacklustre handling of PlayStation Now, Sony has never felt more like an island. The recent fiasco of having PS5 pre-order stock suddenly appear during the wee hours of the morning didn’t sit well either, and left a lot of fans empty-handed.
As Microsoft establishes a closer working relationship with Nintendo, whilst also investing in new ways to play via Project xCloud, Sony’s unwillingness to collaborate and consider the gaming experience beyond its reliance on first-party exclusives is starting to wear thin. It might sound daft, but seeing the likes of Ratchet and Clank in Super Smash Bros would go a long way to showing that the folks working at Sony enjoy gaming as much as we do.