So let’s start from the beginning.
The year was 1990. Nintendo was enjoying a protracted period of dominance in the video game market thanks to a combination of high quality games and a highly recognisable mascot in the form of Super Mario. With the release of Super Mario Bros. 3, the company had become seemingly unstoppable. But that didn’t stop Sega from wanting to try.
Sega needed a new mascot. The company’s earlier creation Alex Kidd just wasn’t cutting it any more, since, as a human character, he was perceived as, at best, too similar to Super Mario; at worst, something of a pale imitation. Sega’s CEO at the time, Hayao Nakayama, wanted a character as iconic as Disney’s Mickey Mouse. Oh, what to do?