The rivalry between Mario and Sonic goes back for decades, but even one of Sonic’s creators was stunned to see the blue hedgehog apparently giving chase to Mario in a whole new realm: that of outrageously priced video game auctions.
As noted by Eurogamer, Yuji Naka, former head of Sega in-house development crew Sonic Team, was stunned to see that a copy of 1991’s Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis had sold at auction for a lofty $US430,000 ($594,131). In his surprise, Naka repeatedly asked his Twitter followers whether the auction price was a scam. He also seemed to express hope that Sonic might legitimately earn such a stratospheric sum, saying in one tweet, “I wondered if it was time for Sonic to reach a high.”
????What’s this https://t.co/U6BkQaWgHz
— Yuji Naka / 中 裕司 (@nakayuji) September 21, 2021
Naka had good reason to be sceptical that the cart had actually earned such a high valuation. The Sonic cart in question was rated by vintage video game grading and certification service Wata Games. which is currently facing controversy due to reported conflicts of interest and suggestions that it colluded with Heritage Auctions to artificially inflate the retro game market (both Wata Games and Heritage Auctions have denied this). However, this high-rolling Sonic the Hedgehog auction was run not by Heritage but by Goldin Auctions. No information about the buyer is known.
Wata previously rated a copy of Super Mario Bros which sold for $US114K in July, becoming the highest-priced game ever sold at auction, until another Wata-rated copy of the game sold for $US660K in April, followed by a copy of The Legend of Zelda selling for $US870K in July. Some now think Wata and Heritage colluded to make these unlikely prices possible.
Naka was apparently familiar with the prices some vintage cartridges featuring Sonic’s rival have reached, and perhaps hoped that Sonic might reach those same heights. At one point Naka tweeted, “I saw the news that Mario was sold at a high price recently, so I thought Sonic was also a high price, but it’s different. I’m sorry.”
You don’t need to apologise, Naka-san. Whether the price of the Sonic listing is legitimate or the result of a scam, you can rest assured that Sonic wipes the floor with Mario in the free marketplace of memes any day of the week. And that value is priceless.