The Weekly Five: A Salute to Miles “Tails” Prower

The secondary playable characters of the Sonic series get a lot of flack. Some, like those who veer the series into bizarre directions, deserve criticism. I like Big the cat as a character, I think his design is great, but the fishing gameplay? Ugh. But I believe there are some who wrongfully receive such hate. I have never been a fan of the term “Sonic’s shitty friends” because it gives an undeserving label to a number of good characters. Some cite the center of this week’s weekly five as the one who kicked off the “shitty friends”, but those folks couldn’t be more wrong. Not only did Tails prove that characters other than Sonic could offer similarly fun Sonic-style gameplay, but he also introduced a new way to traverse zones. To honor Sonic’s sidekick, who has his own 20th anniversary this November, we’ll take a look at five of the fox’s best moments from over the years.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCyLI9lTyZs&feature=related

Tails best moment is undoubtably his first moment. I recall playing Sonic 2 on release and being amazed to see a second character emerge from behind the titles during the intro screen. Unlike past platformers, Tails wasn’t simply a recolor (*cough*Luigi*cough*), he was a unique new character! Back in 1992 the internet wasn’t what it was now, and magazines typically gave poor information when it came to storylines and characters in video games. So the only real way to learn more of this new character was to check the manual:

Reading this now, I’m surprised to see just how much backstory the US version of the game gave. One could almost imagine all this as a little pre-credits scene in the game. The game itself, I’ll admit, doesn’t do great justice to the character in terms of gameplay. Tails iconic flight ability appears, but only when he is following Sonic around. Playing the special stages with Sonic and Tails leads to some pretty frustrating moments where Tails, who is out of your control, hits a spike ball and loses rings. Still, the character design, the charming back story, the awesome looking Tornado and the two player versus stages all contribute to a great first game for the fox.

Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog

The 1993 cartoon series Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog may get flack for the cheesy plots and inconsistant animation, but I loved the series and I know a number of Sonic fans do as well. What the series did best was that it stuck to the spirit of the first two games. Robotnik may not look the same, and there are a number of non-game characters popping up, but the central concept of the show is Sonic and Tails traversing the planet, defeating Robotnik and his badniks whenever they have the chance. Before the premiere episode, I recall the biggest reason I wanted to see the show was that it would feature Sonic and Tails talking and interacting for the first time! Who knew, maybe the series would even delve into how they met? Once the series aired, I was hooked.

I loved how Sonic and Tails interacted, it was just how I imagined they would. Tails would usually take the role of the victim, waiting for Sonic to come and save the day, but he still had his share of heroic moments and the animated version was very true to how the character was first described. Even when comparing AoStH Tails to modern depictions, one can see that the early animated version had a big impact on how the character would be depicted in later games. Without Tails, the hero side of AoStH would have been sorely lacking. Sonic needed a sidekick, and Tails was perfect for the role.

Sonic Adventure

Sonic Adventure was not only Sonic’s break out 3D game, it was also Tails first real solo adventure in a main series title. Looking back on Sonic Adventure, there are obvious weak points. Big, Amy and E-102 are not as fun to play as compared to the titular hero, and Knuckles was relegated to treasure hunting despite being fun to control. This was the game many point to as the beginning of “Sonic’s shitty friends”. But guess what, the one character aside from Sonic to dodge this bullet was Tails! Tails controlled very similarly to Sonic, however Tails was able to fly in three dimensions and the spin dash was swapped out for the tails attack. Initially this attack is rather weak, but after an upgrade Tails is able to spin about like a top, whipping his tails and destroying just about anything he comes in contact with.

The action stages are races against Sonic (as well as a race to disarm a missile), so there is little time to explore like Sonic can, but the ticking clock makes the stages fast and fun. Plus, the addition of flight offers new ways to move through the levels just as Tails did back in Sonic 3. Tails story within the game offers up a good deal of character development, as Tails tries to prove to himself and others that he can be just as great a hero as Sonic. Unlike his role in Sonic 2, he no longer wants to just be a copy cat (copy fox?). Sure the end of Tails adventure is cheesy, but it still makes me smile to see all the NPCs cheering on the little guy.

Sonic Colors

He may not have been playable, which in my opinion he should have been in the bonus two player stages, but Tails did provide a good deal of support to Sonic in Sonic Colors. As in Unleashed, but in an expanded role, Tails pushes the story forward by acting as Sonic’s guide through the game, translating alien languages and checking in on the hedgehog throughout his adventure. However I didn’t choose Sonic Colors for those moments, I chose it for this moment near the end of the game:

One could read it as a cheap way to get Tails out of the way, to make way for the final boss, but I really liked the moment as it said a lot of things about the two characters and their friendship. It showed that Tails expected to stick around, helping Sonic in his fight, even though he was nervous and unsure of himself and the situation. It also showed that Sonic really cares about Tails as a little brother, and knows that this fight would be too much for him, thus putting him into the transport and sending him to safety with a reassuring “See you on the ground, buddy!”. It was a nice little moment with heart, and that is something that has been lacking in recent Sonic games.

Sonic Generations

When Sonic Generations was first announced, it was an exciting moment. And when it was later announced that we’d see both modern and classic Tails it was just as exciting. If you aren’t a fan of modern Tails, you surely have to be a fan of his classic iteration. The 3D rendering of Tails in his Sonic 2 style is just too cool to hate. In the game itself, the two Tails served as exposition just as Tails did in the past two games. It was a shame Tails didn’t appear as an optional character in the 2D stages given that he was semi-playable during one mission, but that one mission was a load of fun and a great nostalgic throwback to the Sonic 2 days:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKbf5O6QG3A

Following the release of Generations, SEGA has really put the spotlight on Tails. The rerelease of Sonic CD brought with it the ability to play through the game as Tails, and in my opinion this mode is ideal for creating good futures. The teaser trailer for Sonic 4 Episode 2 teased an appearance by Tails, and with the release of the logo is was confirmed that he would once again co-star in a game. After being confined to a mech, and years of being an NPC, Tails is returning to his original role. To honor Sonic’s sidekick, SEGAbits salutes Miles “Tails” Prower!

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10 responses to “The Weekly Five: A Salute to Miles “Tails” Prower

  1. Blue Wisp/Vinyl Scratch says:

    Sonic Colours was one of Tails’s best roles – albeit a bit minor. The brofist at the ending sequence was really emotive, after Sonic almost died in Terminal Velocity if it wasn’t for the Wisps. I almost dropped a tear, for both the awesome game and the emotive ending.

    Tails in Sonic Generations was good too, but I feel that since Unleashed, SEGA has been focusing more in Sonic and Eggman and forgetting characters that has been since the original games like Tails or Knuckles. Despite Tails’s minor role on the story, Classic Tails is cute as ever.

    Good writing Barry. You really know how to make an enjoyable read.

  2. teirusu says:

    i think that sonic unleashed was one of the best tails roles because you are able to play whit him in another role and he is the only one to recognize sonic in his werehog form and in the ending of sonic unleashed when chip dies i think when sonic is looking that he was alone and chip is not whit him anymore he appears screaming sonic like he always is going to be there for sonic that`s why i think unleashed is the best tails role

    • Blue Wisp/Vinyl Scratch says:

      … Chip didn’t die, he was sealed in Earth’s Core along with Dark Gaia until they are needed again.

  3. teirusu says:

    o ok but when chip leaves sonic is looking that he was alone and chip is not whit him anymore the he appears screaming sonic like he always is going to be there for sonic that`s why i think unleashed is the best tails role

  4. Adam Duffield says:

    I know this was just for Sonic 4 E2 but Id love to see a salute to Knuckles considering how much his role in the games has changed 🙂
    I loved this, makes me remember why Tails should always be in a Sonic game 😀

  5. Tails sure is one awesome little freaky little two tailed fox, I remember when I was playing Sonic 2 with my brother, I was always Tails but I didn’t really mind, only until sky chase. I certainly wasn’t expecting that…

  6. matty says:

    I owe my early androgynous years thanks to Tails.

  7. Webbyfour32 says:

    With Sonic Lost World and Sonic Forces, Tails in the Meta Era is pretty much hated these days because how worthless he is in the boost games since he became an NPC with Mania as the only time in the decade not counting Sonic Boom where
    he is finally an actual playable character. With the 30th anniversary coming up there is a chance that Sega might go back to the Adventure formula as a fully 3d open sand game allowing Tails to finally be relevant and loved by billions once again or if Sega decides to stick to the boost formula and continues to nostalgia pander, Tails is doom and the hope to save him is to permenantly retire him from all future 3d Sonic games. He can still appear in the comics, cartoons and future Mania sequels but he can never ever be in a Modern Sonic game again.

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