Media Essays: The History of Tails (Tails 30th Anniversary Special) Part 1


Suggested by TCH2


Who'd have thought that this year marks 30 years since this little guy joined the Sonic franchise?

First appearing in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 back in 1992, Miles "Tails" Prower was Sonic's first friend and companion created for the franchise that would further expand the franchise to beyond just Sonic and Eggman and he has remained one of the most popular characters to come out of Sonic the Hedgehog as a result.


We all know Tails as the humble, kind and helpful gadgeteer fox cub who has accompanied Sonic on his many adventures and has gotten the blue blur out of many scrapes over the years, but what about his history? What led to Tails's creation and how did he become as big a mainstay in the franchise as he did? That's what we're here for, my friends. To celebrate 30 years since Tails's creation, we are diving into the history of the little fox and how he's grown over the years.


So sit back, relax and enjoy as we fly into the History of Tails...


Tails's Beginnings

Our story begins with the success of the original Sonic the Hedgehog for the SEGA Genesis console back in 1991. With the game's success and Sonic the Hedgehog becoming a household name, it was inevitable that a sequel was going to be made to further expand the franchise and give people more of what they enjoyed the first time. The game would expand on what came before and give players a whole new experience when playing a Sonic game. One of those things included giving Sonic a sidekick to accompany him on his adventures. That's where Tails comes into the picture.

His credited creator is Yasushi Yamaguchi, the original main artist and zone designer for SEGA's Sonic Team. He designed Tails for an internal competition for a sidekick for Sonic in the game and what a happy time it was for Yasushi, his entry won and Tails became that sidekick! The reason for the character's creator was that Yasushi wanted a second playable character in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 so siblings could play the game together. The character was inspired by the kitsune of Japanese mythology. They're mythical fox like creatures that can grow multiple tails, hence why Tails has two of them as we know it. Now when Yasushi created the character, SEGA of America wanted him to be called "Tails", but SEGA of Japan wanted him to be called "Miles Prower", an obvious pun on the phrase "miles-per-hour". So how did they settle this dispute in the end? SEGA of America crafted a compelling backstory for Tails in an effort to convince the Japanese parent company and Sonic Team to keep the character's name as "Tails". In the end, Yasushi came up with a compromise in that "Miles Prower" would be Tails's real name while Tails would be his nickname. I'd say that sounded pretty fair, wouldn't you?


Curiously enough, Yuji Naka (the creator of Sonic the Hedgehog) stated that Tails was originally going to be a tanuki, a racoon-like canine native to East Asia and a popular animal in Japanese folklore. Yasushi Yamaguchi has confirmed that this is NOT the case. It was misinformation regarding a different project at the time and Tails WAS meant to be a fox from the very beginning. There were also wild rumours of Tails being misunderstood as a girl at the time but again, they're just rumours. Tails was ALWAYS intended to be a boy from the very beginning too. What's also curious is that Yasushi concepted Tails as being five years old, but his official age ended up being eight in the end. I think that's for the best because Tails being five years old would just raise a few questions. I mean people already give Cream the Rabbit flack for getting into danger despite only being six so just imagine all the jokes people would make about a five year old fox getting involved in life-threatening situations.


When Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was released on November the 21st 1992, the game received critical acclaim from gamers and critics alike and remains to this day one of the most popular and beloved entries in the Sonic franchise. It even holds the record for being the second highest selling game for the SEGA Genesis with only the first Sonic game selling more copies. Tails's inclusion was just one of those praised aspects of the game with Electronic Gaming Monthly rewarding him the "Best New Character" award in their 1992 video game awards. They stated that "not only is he as cute as Sonic, but he actually serves a major purpose in the game." GamePro would describe Tails as "about the cutest companion that any Sonic fan could ask for". Tails's inclusion is even used as an example of the game's success at the time due to his inclusion giving Sonic the Hedgehog 2 a multiplayer function and allowing two players to play the game instead of just one.


In the years that would come and go, Tails would consistently find himself ranked on many lists of great video-game sidekicks and is the third most popular character in the Sonic franchise behind only Sonic himself and Shadow the Hedgehog. Sadly, Tails would receive backlash from certain video-game critics and journalists with IGN especially citing him as being responsible for SEGA creating more and more new characters in later games and "pulling attention away from their hero". GamesRadar+ even labelled him as the number one cutsey characters they'd love to beat up with their reason being that "while he started out as interesting, he led to the creation of other characters who choked the life out the franchise" and citing him as a "know-it-all" in later games as to why they hate him so much. The fact they want to beat up an eight year old kid just because he inspired SEGA to create more characters has me questioning their mental health and has me hoping no kid ever goes near those guys... X( Also Tails being a "know-it-all" is objectively false so this shows they can't even accurately describe Tails's character. You'd think a gaming site would know better. =P


Nevertheless, Tails's success was immediate with Sonic the Hedgehog 2's release and worldwide acclaim so naturally, SEGA wanted to capitalize on this by not only giving Tails more games to appear in later on, but they would also give him his own games to appear in...


Tails Goes Solo

The first of these was Tails' Skypatrol, released in Japan in 1995 for the SEGA Game Gear.


This game was developed by Japan System House, a company that's known for its work on 8-bit conversions of SEGA games throughout the early 90's with SIMS, a part-owned SEGA subsidiary assisting them. During its development stage, JSH didn't actually develop the game as part of the Sonic franchise. It was going to be for a handheld console with original characters and a more educational focus...but that didn't happen. So the company remade it for the Game Gear and upon completion, they presented it to SEGA. They had one teeny-tiny request for them to fulfil in order for the game to get published...that their main character would be replaced with Tails. So they did just that and Tails' Skypatrol became what it is today as Tails' first outing in his own solo game separate from Sonic the Hedgehog.


The game...did not do well. It received mostly bad reviews for the harsh difficulty and bad controls. The game itself would only be released in Japan and it wasn't until 2003 in where Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut would include the game as an unlockable extra alongside 11 other Sonic Game Gear games where people outside of Japan would get a chance to actually play it for themselves. The 2005 compilation game, Sonic Gems Collection would also include this game amongst many others.


Witchcart, the villain of this game, and her minions would go on to appear as antagonists in Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog comics many years after this game's release, albeit with Witchcart gaining an added first name with Wendy.

The same year as Tails' Skypatrol, we also got another game starring the twin-tailed gadgeteer with Tails Adventure, which was also released for the Game Gear.


This game truly broke the norm for Sonic games as this game had a slower pace and more of a focus on exploration. The story would also see Tails at a time before he met Sonic in where he's confronted by the Battle Bird Armada while visiting Cocoa Island. It was developed by Aspect and published by SEGA with the soundtrack being composed by Koijro Mikusa, who also wrote the music for Sonic Blast.


It was released for the Game Gear on September the 22nd 1995 in Japan with Europe receiving it in October and North America receiving it in November. It had a slightly better reception compared to Tails' Skypatrol with more mixed reviews than outright negative. But critics still found it nothing special by finding it unoriginal, slow and too much like other platform games at the time. As is, the game does get some praise for trying something new and fans of Tails appreciate that Tails got his own game to have his time to shine. The game would be re-released in 2003 and 2005 respectively for the same compilations I mentioned earlier when talking about Tails' Skypatrol but this game also got a re-release for the Nintendo 3DS via the eShop in 2013, thus giving modern players a chance to play the game for themselves.

Most notably, this game would also receive an adaptation in Sonic Universe, a comic spin-off that ran concurrently with Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog comics in where it follows the plot of the game rather closely with some additional elements added to further tie it into the Archie Sonic universe.


Throughout the 90's, Tails would be featured in other games at the time and also appear in several Sonic media also released at the time such as The Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic SatAM and the Sonic the Hedgehog OVA movie. AoSTH would provide Tails with his first ever voice-actor in the form of Christopher Welch, who would perform the voice throughout the show's run with the exception of the Christmas special. For Sonic SatAM he was voiced by Bradley Pierce, whom you may recognize as the voice of Chip in Beauty and the Beast. Sadly, Tails was heavily downplayed in the show to the point of barely being in it at all and the show got cancelled before Ben Hurst could execute any plans to increase his screen presence and expand his character development. At least the comics published by Archie Comics would rectify that. What was even more disappointing was that Tails didn't even appear at all in Sonic Underground. As of today, no official reason has been given for his absence in the show.


Come 1999, Tails would undergo some changes to close off his time in the 90's. With the jump to 3-D for the franchise, Tails naturally was given the treatment along with the rest of the cast. The first thing they did to bring Tails into the modern era was give him a redesign courtesy of Yuji Uekawa along with the rest of the Sonic cast. His fur was changed from orange to yellow, he was made a little bigger, his cheek fur was changed and he was given blue eyes instead of plain black ones. The design has stood to this day and remains Tails' default design in most Sonic media.

This redesign would debut in Sonic Adventure, a game for the SEGA Dreamcast that would change the direction of the Sonic franchise going forward with games being made in 3-D, having more story-heavy plots and a change from its classic side-scrolling gameplay. Sonic Adventure is also a significant point in Tails' history for this was the game that started to develop his character from beyond just being Sonic's sidekick, something he even acknowledges in his most famous quote to come from the game:


"I've changed a lot since I've started hanging with Sonic, but I can't depend on him forever. I know I can do this by myself!" - Miles "Tails" Prower (Sonic Adventure 1999)


Sadly, this development wouldn't stick but we'll get to that later. This game would also mark as the first major series game not counting spin-offs that Tails' mechanical skills are fully on display here with a mechanically powered house and his transforming aeroplane. In this game, Tails would be voiced by Corey Bringas. When it came to the casting, Lani Minella didn't want a child actor to voice Tails but Yuji Naka insisted on it, hence Corey got the part.


For now, let's move on as we transition from the 90's to...


The 2000's

The 2000's will always be remembered as a rough time for the Sonic franchise and Tails sadly didn't have it great either.


Sonic Adventure 2 from 2001 would bring Tails into the 21st century with Connor Bringas (the brother of Corey Bringas) providing his voice this time around. This game is the only time Connor would ever voice the character. Naturally, this game is also notorious for being the game that introduced the highly popular character, Shadow the Hedgehog, and also Rouge the Bat, whom would become mainstays in the Sonic franchise going forward. This game would be the last Sonic game ever released for the SEGA Dreamcast as SEGA would eventually drop out of the consoles race and stick strictly to video-games from now on.

In December 2003, we got the release of Sonic Heroes for the Xbox, Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2.


Sonic Heroes is notable for being the first Sonic game to ever be released for Sony and Microsoft made consoles and in 2008, it was actually rewarded the Guiness World Record for most amount of playable characters in a platform game in that year's Guiness World Records Gamer's Edition. Considering you play as four different teams each with three playable characters in them, that's hardly surprising. In this game, Tails was voiced by William Corkery while his father Bill Corkery would voice Espio and his sister, Emily Corkery would voice Charmy Bee. Talk about a family effort, am I right? ^^ Sadly, William's performance as Tails remains one of the most criticized aspects of the game due to how high and squeaky he makes him sound and he's often considered one of the worst actors to portray the character. I'm not keen on the voice myself but I think it's unfair to be so harsh to him. He was only a child at the time after all...


Anyway, with Sonic Heroes' team-based gameplay, Tails was part of Team Sonic alongside Sonic and Knuckles and the three will go on to offcially be considered the trinity of the Sonic franchise, kinda like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in the DC Universe. Tails's part is, of course, the flier and he can fly the team up to places they can't reach themselves while also launching Sonic and Knuckles at enemies in a attack called "Thunder shoot". Tails would also get a pseudo-super form in this game in where he's...just surrounded by a barrier along with Knuckles while Super Sonic flies into action. Of course, this ISN'T the first super form he ever had for in Sonic 3 and Knuckles back in the 90's, he could transform into Hyper Tails and pass his power onto animals such as Flickies and make them powerful weapons of his own. Also, the Archie Sonic comics would give him a super form called Turbo Tails in where he becomes all powerful while also gaining a red cape to wear and Titan Tails where...

...nobody likes to talk about it. Yes people, this is a real thing from an officially published and licensed Sonic the Hedgehog comic book. I only WISH I was kidding!


Also while we're on the subject of Archie Sonic, it's worth mentioning that the comic developed some kind of "Chosen One" storyline for Tails and also expanded his family line by showing us his parents, his uncle who was literally a wizard named Merlin, and come the 25 Years Later spin-off, they gave him a son and daughter named Melody and Skye respectively. Who did he end up marrying you may ask? Mina Mongoose...of all the random choices! Even to this day, fans are baffled by that. Also, I should mention that in Archie Sonic, they gave him a love interest in the form of Fiona Fox.

It didn't end well. There are fans even to this day that still haven't forgiven Ian Flynn for writing this and Flynn himself would come to look down on that issue and possibly this moment too. I mean this has to be one of the cruellest and meanest things to ever happen to Tails and he really didn't deserve this, and neither did Fiona given how out-of-nowhere this heel-turn was.


But back to Sonic Heroes, this game would be released to mixed to positive reviews and for many people, this game was considered to be either the last great Sonic game we ever got before the Dark Age kicked on or it's the game that started the Dark Age. But that's a history topic in and of itself and this is about Tails's history so let's stick to that.

The 2000's also gave us Tails's next big cartoon appearance with Sonic X. The anime ran for 78 episodes over three seasons with the defunct company 4Kids Entertainment handling the English dub for the show. Sonic X has very mixed reactions from the Sonic fandom with some either really loving it or really hating it. Tails tends to be one of the more liked aspects of the series, even if some feel that his voice actor, Amy Palant, made him sound too much like girl here. Amy would voice the character up until 2010's Sonic and the Black Knight when the cast was replaced for Sonic Free Riders and Sonic Colours onwards. Anyway, this season would develop the Sonic Adventure games in Season 2, which naturally gave us a repeat of Tails's praised character development from those games and Season 3 would add the most interesting new addition to Tails's story in where he gains a love interest in the form of Cosmo, an alien plant whom joins our heroes in facing off the villainous Metarex. This pairing would spawn one of the most popular shipping couples involving Tails that even to this day garners a lot of support. And I'll admit I am one of them. Sadly, Tails's love life would end in tragedy when he was forced to kill Cosmo in order to stop Dark Oak from turning the entire galaxy into plants. This naturally remains a sore point for many Tails fans even to this day. And yes, I am one of them. It's been so long since this show ended and we're still not over this! X( But I digress...

Tails would continue to appear in other games throughout the 2000's like Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Sonic Rivals, Sonic Rush, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood and the Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games series. Sonic 06 and Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood were some of the few mainstream games in this decade where Tails was a playable character with the rest featuring him in NPC roles. Sonic and the Secret Rings and Sonic and the Black Knight would give us alternate versions of the twin-tailed tech whiz with the former featuring him as Ali Baba and the latter portraying him as a blacksmith that Sonic goes to get Caliburn sharpened. Then we get to 2008's Sonic Unleashed where Tails is yet again an NPC and doesn't have the most significant role in the game. But it's worth bringing up as part of his history for this game was where Tails started to suffer from Badass Decay and his less than stellar treatment in the 2010's would snowball from here. The game itself is otherwise beloved and considered an overlooked modern classic, but Tails would show the signs of cowardice that would plague his future appearances in the 2010's.


So that was Tails in the 2000's. He did have some shining moments and time to be a playable character but the franchise would downplay the focus on Sonic's friends and focus more on Sonic so Tails would end up being overlooked, he was given a girlfriend in Sonic X that he had to kill in the end, he was given an embarrassing super form in the comics and made to fight his best friend in a couple of issues, also got slapped across the face and betrayed by the girl he fell in love with in those comics and Sonic Unleashed would begin his fall from badass as he'd get more cowardly and not as involved in the action. Not the best time but not the worst either.


Join me in Part 2 as we cover the 2010's to the present...


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Sources:

Wikipedia

The Sonic Wiki

TVTropes






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