Pity poor Sonic. No matter how fast he runs he'll never catch up with Mario.
While the venerable plumber has been swooping through space, Sega's mascot has grown hair on the back of his hands, taken up racing, murdered Arthurian legends and plummeted out of the good books.
Somewhere there's an anthropomorphic rodent playing a mournful violin. But what if Sonic were to play Mario at his own game and gain a little ground? That could work, right? Couldn't it? Yes it could and it does - the result is Sonic Colours. Shove your pity, Sonic doesn't need it.
Sonic Colours may be a planet-hopping platform game but the similarity to the Mario Galaxy games that really counts is its abundance of ideas.
This is Sonic Team in uncharacteristically creative and generous mood. It's one that suits them well. The addition of the power-altering Wisps is what does it.
These aren't powerups, they're toys - single-use shots of pure fun that have the happy side effect of opening up new pathways in already pleasingly labyrinthine stages.
Turn Sonic into a laser-guided pin cushion and ping him off mirrors; morph into a firework and explore the upper atmosphere; drill down beneath the surface and uncover a stash of forgotten rings. Who says you can't teach an old hog new tricks?
They're multi-use too. Aim the laser Wisp at a glowing aerial, for instance, and Sonic is whisked along underground cables like a spiny email attachment.
The cube power, mostly used for turning blue rings into impromptu platforms, can smash certain blocks, while the drill grants you access to pipelines.
The list of powers goes on, and finding these new tricks and backtracking to find new areas in which to use them is a big part of the fun.
Crucially, the Wisps don't sacrifice Sonic's speed; they simply reveal more runways for him to go to work on. And that's brilliant.
Speed alone reduces gameplay to a simple progression from left to right, but moments of calm exploration add texture and a sense of adventure.
Better still, these quieter interludes make those moments when the beautifully rendered scenery is smeared behind Sonic like a vapour trail feel all the more special.
Simply put, speed and speed alone leaves you with no soul but the white hot rubbery ones beneath the hedgehog's feet (and a nasty case of athlete's foot). But what are toys without somewhere to play with them?
The environments here are every bit as playful as the new Wisp powers. Planet-sized playgrounds have familiar themes such as water and lush forests, though there are also less predictable regions such as the saccharine Sweet Mountain.
Each of them is packed with stages large and small, most of which introduce more new ideas. Some are built entirely from one idea stretched to its limit; others are constructed solely to test just how robust the new Wisp powers are.
The result is a series of intricate and occasionally extremely tricky levels. Again we're reminded of Mario Galaxy, particularly when Sonic plummets off the bottom of the screen for the umpteenth time and we get exasperated at our own lack of skill rather than the unfairness of the game.
If that isn't the acid test for a decent platformer then we're improbably neon-coloured rodents on Ritalin.
Better yet, every stage compels you to push harder, aim higher. Maintain that speed, keep your eyes open, cross any available digits and you'll see wonders.
Real wonders. Giganto missiles packed with sweets; ornamental pagodas flanked by fish; a space armada emerging from sub-space. These are ideas Sonic Team have sweated over only to have you race past them. There's no hand-holding or signposting.