Much like the Disney name is synonymous with cartoons, Nintendo is one of a few names that are synonymous with gaming culture. Disney revolutionized the classic cartoon decades ago and provided some of the most memorable cartoon characters to date. These characters are now seen on everything from apparel to various nickknackery and of course, movies. When the video game crash of 1983 reared its ugly head, Nintendo picked up the scraps and put gaming back on the map with the NES and a title by the name of Super Mario Bros., in the process crafting a legacy that would see the creation of many memorable video game characters. Let’s take a look at some of the similarities and differences between some of the characters from both companies.
It would be impossible to start any sort of Nintendo/Disney comparison without first looking at the two companies’ respective mascots. When you look at both Mario and Mickey Mouse, you immediately think about the studios that birthed them. These two characters were designed to perfectly represent their brands as well as the market they belong to. Over the years, both Mario and Mickey have played the role of the hero who saves the damsel in distress. Additionally, both of these mascots have a family-friendly appeal to them:
What attributes differentiate these two mascot giants, though? For starters, Mario’s adventures have almost always revolved around heroism. With the exception of some terribly awkward edutainment titles, Mario has reprised the role of plumber-turned-hero more often than not. Mickey, on the other hand, has been known to save a few characters here and there, but the majority of his exploits have mainly focused on mischievous activity and innocent chicanery. Because of this, Mario appeals to everyone from younger gamers to older retro gaming fans, while Mickey’s fan base consists primarily of a younger audience.
Mario and Mickey are great faces for their respective companies, there’s no doubt about it. But what about the alternative? What about the anti-hero? For some time, Wario was seen as another villain for Mario to feud with, but it soon became clear that this greedy treasure hunter was more of a loveable mischief maker than a fully-fledged villain. The same can be said about Pete, who often played the role of antagonist before becoming one of Goofy’s closest friends in Goof Troop. Wario is arguably the funniest character in the Mario universe, while Pete’s gruff speech and lack of brightness make him a great counterpart in the Disney franchise. These two characters are known to get into some pretty insane situations, making them the perfect contrast to characters like Mario and Mickey.
You could probably point out similarities between Wario and Pete for hours. If you look past everything these two ruffians have in common, though, you’re likely to find two pretty diverse characters. As previously stated, Pete started off as a villain and later garnered a friendlier persona. It can be said that this oversized character decided to change his ways for the better. Such a statement can’t really be said about Wario. Greedy since his introduction to the Mario franchise, the maniacal Wario has always and will always have a sneaky, sinister, and deranged side.
Powerhouses such as Nintendo and Disney constantly move forward and create new characters to keep things fresh. Though they are two completely different types of characters and cater to two distinct audiences, Waluigi and Duffy the Disney Bear are actually quite similar. Some of you might be scratching your heads at the aforementioned claim, but look a little deeper at these two characters. When Waluigi first appeared in Mario Tennis, the majority of gamers immediately disregarded the anti-hero as a cheap Wario knock-off. Similarly, countless Disney fans could care less about Duffy. Primarily popular in Japan, this character started appearing in North America not too long ago. The fans’ verdict: Thumbs down.
Despite the fact that these two characters are seen by many as the black sheep of their respective brands, they still have some standout differences aside from the obvious. Because Duffy is essentially an overgrown teddy bear, he definitely has a larger fan base than Waluigi. This is due to the furry critter’s appeal to children. So while older Disney fans may not care for Duffy, newer generations certainly do. Where does this leave Waluigi as Nintendo’s newcomer? Loved by some and hated by most, Waluigi is more of a cult character that really only appeals to a niche crowd, unlike Duffy, who’s loveable and cuddly no matter how many people can’t stand him.
The Mario franchise and the Disney brand each have their own sets of exclusive mascots. Ultimately, these characters are created to appeal to consumers. Young children love the look of Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach, and they love to hate characters like Wario, Waluigi, and Bowser. To older gamers, these characters are more than just heroes and villains, they are a part of gaming history. Disney, on the other hand, has a strong following based on its family-oriented origins. Most children love Disney, and most parents love Disney for their kids. The innocence of that franchise is its main draw. Looking at Nintendo and Disney side-by-side, it’s apparent that the fans are just as much a part of everything as the characters themselves. Remember, without a fan base, there would be no characters, likeable or otherwise.