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Tangled Jack

Tails: between success and disservice of the character

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I think that Miles "Tails" Prower is an awesome character, really accompanies Sonic well as a sidekick during the classic era, he was great, he was the buddy that follows Sonic and acts like him, tries to imitate him, and learns to spin dash along with the blue hero. Plus he was a fantastic playable character in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, with his Flying ability, really making the game easier for beginner players.

Now, Adventure Tails is also great, he wants to step up as a main hero, not being overshadowed by Sonic anymore, he wants to become his own person. I really loved this evolution in the 1998-2001 period. Also he finds his own inventions, planes, mechs, even though most people including me didn't like that he was being relegated to shooting gameplay in Sonic Adventure 2, really boring and just to provide a skin to Eggman, as he wasn't planned as playable in the beta phase of the game. But still, great writing for him, he wants to avenge Sonic and become the leader when he believes Sonic is dead at the end of the game.

Now, what happened here? In Sonic 2006, he was already misused compared to other friend characters in the game, but that game was an unfinished mess, Tails I believe was supposed to be the fourth main character but later became an amigo character, but still, he really lacked screentime or his own stages compared to people like Rouge, Omega, Blaze and even Amy who is playable in few stages, they all still had their own plots, Knuckles was another underdog in that game.

I know that in the last 10 years, due to the failure of Sonic 2006 the "shitty friends" were given a minor role and the focus was back on Sonic, that Tails still had been given a better role than Knuckles, Amy and Shadow, among Others, who also deserved better, so everyone was misused, but Tails in particular, in these games:

1. Sonic Unleashed: the main focus is the friendship between Sonic and Chip, which I did not approve as it meant Tails was useless, besides, he became a damsel in distress who couldn't fight the Dark Gaia monsters, he was only used for the Tornado travelling.

2. Sonic Lost World: Tails became a focus again in the story, but at what cost? The Writers Pontaff didn't know what to do with him, and the focus on the triangle Tails - Sonic - Eggman became a thing, with Tails on the wrong side, the jealous one, although he was right about Eggman betraying them, obviously. Tails is smart, but now he is so smart he became an arrogant jerk who is a prig and declares he is intelligent he doesn't need help. Really Tails' worst portrayal, but at least he did something, unlike...

3. Sonic Forces: where Tails is once again the damsel in distress, he can't fix Omega, he can't fight simple Chaos 0 and ask for help by any Sonic, he is really useless, only having the form of hope that Sonic will return. Although he does some good in the game, but only for exposition scenes with Eggman, the Avatar to explain the stuff about the Phantom Ruby prototypes. Another big disservice to the character in my opinion.

But, I'm aware that most of you already knew all of that, I still want to express my disappointment that the Writers have no idea what to do with the character sadly.

However there IS some good in recent Tails appearances, besides main games, he was just acceptable in Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations, once again a supporting character but at least well written, Tails has become more independent, less an action hero but more of a tech guy who works on his creations, a smart but kind boy who is no longer Sonic's puppy, but his own person, even though he is not a hero like in the Dreamcast days.

But Tails' best recent appearances where he is well written are 2, in particular, besides Sonic Mania where he is a cool playable character, but talking in story perspective and writing:

1. Sonic Boom cartoon: When he's not written by Pontaff, Tails is a really gentle kid who adores Sonic, but also works on his machines, creations, he is an ace pilot, and the character quirks, although not many, are that he is nerdy and his inventions are buggy as hell, and they put his friends in danger, which worries Tails to fix the problem. I thought it was nice writing, although most episodes revolved around the same basic plotline, and that became boring fast.

2. Sonic IDW comics: Forgetting some really horrible moments during the Archie days of the Ian Flynn era, where there was that infamous triangle with Fiona and Tails slaps Sonic, Flynn redeemed himself already during the reboot, although there weren't any Tails focused stories, and there aren't any Tails centrics yet in IDW, but still, Tails is written pretty well as most characters are, he is a fighter again, he is useful, he is smart and careful without being arrogant, he works on his creations and tries to find a cure for the virus in later issues, realizes that someone else is controlling the robots during season 1, etc. I'm really looking forward to some solo Tails comics in the future.

So what do you think? What role should Tails have in the future? How should he be handled?

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Eh, I disagree with Unleashed and especially 06. 

Gonna be honest though and say that Tails is probably the game character I'm the second least invigorated to see get focus. 

Albeit not out of dislike. 

 

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I think most people would agree that Tails has not been in the greatest of states lately (as if anyone has...except maybe Eggman, but even that's debatable and inconsistent), but I disagree with a lot of the common reasonings as to why. The problem with Tails in Lost World and Forces is less about how he's characterized, but how those games stumble in following through on their ideas. I like my characters flawed, I like them to struggle, I like them to mess up, so having a Tails that can feel jealous and lash out or get depressed and lose confidence in himself is immediately more interesting to me than a Tails that just exists to be cute and competent at whatever he's doing. Lost World shows us a Tails that initially seems very confident in his abilities but it turns out a lot of his self-worth is still wrapped up in attention from Sonic; when he feels overlooked and replaced, he lashes out at both Eggman and Sonic, because ultimately he's still a kid and doesn't have a full grasp on his emotions. The resolution to this gets a bit muddled, but it's a more interesting and more nuanced take on the character than any game before it. Forces, likewise, shows us a Tails that has suddenly lost Sonic, who's depressed, who's "lost it". Everything's gone to shit around him and it's only natural that he's not performing at his best. This should've been the start of an arc about him recovering, regaining hope and confidence as the resistance starts to beat back Eggman and Infinite. Unfortunately they end up dropping this almost immediately after introducing it and Tails goes back to being generically good at whatever, and therefore boring.

tldr; LW/Forces Tails is still more interesting than perfect cinnamon bun Tails, don't @ me

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So if you're feeling brave...

When I was researching for that video... I looked at a lot of games which have had Tails in since Generations and I have noticed that they're trying to change a lot of the mainline cast to be more supportive and not just be a Sonic in another colour.

I can't remember everything I said in that video since it's getting on for a year old now, but from what I remember when I looked into his character.

When you look at what was going on in Sonic Adventure, they clearly portrayed him as a character who was trying to step out of his best friends shadow and stand on his own. Which was fine. A lot of games and secondary media until them had portrayed him as that. 

Now SA2 is an odd one, because the big belief is that originally he wasn't to be in that game (or at the least not very much at all), but it's kinda a continuation of what happens in Adventure, then we get the moment at the end of the game when he thinks Sonic has died and battles Eggman that a lot of his fans think is amazing.

The problems start in Heroes, both Tails and Knuckles start to become on par with Sonic in terms of their abilities in, they're also on par with Sonic now... but have all their additional benefits, like Tails being an inventor and computer programmer. The example in the video I give... Imagine there's a scenario where Eggman attacks in an airship, and Tails is around with his plane... If you think how he was post Heroes and Pre-Generations, there's the question of "Why are we waiting for Sonic? When Tails can easily handle this?"

And this goes on for several games, then around the time Generations comes out, stuff starts to change for all the characters, but with Tails specifically things seem more drastic. Tails seems more towards the technical support and tactician rather than the go to hero. 

For me at least that's fine.

 

I know a lot of people dislike Tails in Sonic Lost World, but... I actually think his portrayal in that game is really good. Aside from the one or two howlers, Tails is always active in the support role here, he's using his abilities to benefit the mission, even when he's captured he uses his abilities to try and escape. 

Now with Forces.... That game is a mess, for me it feels like they tried and then dropped an angle for the character but didn't try to re-write it. But in the initial opening section, there is still a hint of the positive aspects they've tried to do with him and you even see Sonic gesture to Tails to not get involved in the battle. Tails was really to get involved but Sonic said no.

The issues come afterwards, it can be explained with what's in there, but... Forces is a mess.

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A couple years ago I realized I was straight up apathetic toward Tails. Even when he was contributing more I straight up don't care much for the "boy genius" arechetype. I liked him more when he was Sonic's "puppy" since that's at least a characer trait that has room for growth and development. He didn't just drop exposition and finesse whatever gadget the game needed together. 

I'm with the above post that I prefer more nuanced and flawed characters but I don't think the newer games do a good job at that either. One consistency from Unleashed onward is Sonic getting punished in some way for acting out, jumping the gun or underestimating his opponents. This never happens with Tails in Lost World or Forces. It always comes down to Tails being right in how he's feeling despite how it seems from the outsider's perspective. He was right about being the one that needs to turn off the machine in Sonic Lost World amd right about how fighting eggman was pointless without Sonic in forces. Flawed characters are better than the hypercompetent superhero take, but its kind of hard for me to watch flawed characters that never get pushback for screwing up.

I think you could combine elements of Tails across the series to make a pretty fun character. Give up on him being hypercompetent. Let his inventions have more flaws or quirks. Let him be more of an active participant in the game but also let him be a kid who can get jealous, discouraged or scared. I'd be okay with him growing out of Sonic's shadow as long as they did it in a way that didn't shed him of most of his quirks.

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That's comparing a fight against some slightly-above-mook-level robots that was written for the sake of introducing Tails, and the climax of a game where they're trying to escape the impending collapse of a space station and are suddenly cornered by Eggman and his super-robot, and Tails worries that they're not going to make it out of that mess. It's both in-character and narratively fitting for Sonic to push Tails to safety and take on the final boss alone, ensuring that his buddy makes it out alive even if it meant putting himself at greater risk.

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I'm going to echo Wraith and admit that I never cared much about Tails in the grand scheme of things. I liked his little character arc in Adventure, but for the most part he's always just been a tagalong towards much more interesting characters. He wasn't exactly better in the Classic era, but he at least looked cute in trying to emulate Sonic, which yea, leaves room for more development in the future. 

But after Sonic Adventure, he became extremely boring; not only were newer characters like Shadow, Silver and Blaze getting more screentime, they delegated him to the exposition character and that's almost never interesting at all. I could take him being a non-combatant if he had a personality worth caring about, but he doesn't most of the time... He just kind of exists as the generic boy genius character who can invent anything the plot requires for him to do at the time. Lost World tries to do something interesting with him, but it still ultimately boils down to the same thing. 

 

I don't think I'd feel like this if the developers didn't feel the need to have him constantly be around Sonic regardless of the circumstances;  yea, I get it he's the sidekick but that doesn't mean he has to be in every game, especially when you don't actually give him anything to do. 

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Characters don't grow in this series. That's about it.

The only thing that doesn't get reset back to point 0 is Knuckles as a villain.

Tails is independent? Not next game. Shadow sacrifices himself? Nope he's back being the ultimate jackass. What would an independent Tails do anyways? Half of his purpose is follow Sonic. Look at what Shadow ended up doing. He got a job as a soldier. Do you want Tails to have a job fixing laptops or something?

Now I agree that his role as inventor in Boom is a good thing. This is his role in Adventure and other media like the OVA, where Tails has a workshop and is also the biplane mechanic. As far as "fixing laptops" or having a job, Tails' workshop should be a mainstay in all stories. It gives him a purpose outside of Sonic.

Also, I don't recall his role in Rush Adventure, but I'm pretty sure he was the upgrade/engineer guy for all the boats and stuff.

But just like Shadow - What is his role if becomes less attached to Sonic?

Also, isn't it a trap to give him a role like inventor or engineer, if stories then require him to be building something in order to participate? I could see this getting tiring after a while. But in total, characters don't grow, so I don't expect any development at all.

 

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Tails is still independent in games like Colors, Generations and *shrug* Lost World, I know that being a Genius that relies on machines instead of being an action hero is not as cool as Adventure Tails, but what if that is HIS OWN journey? His way of life? He doesn't have to be a hero like Sonic, he can be a hero with his inventions, as a pilot, a helper, a healer in some games, I think that would be a great message. That everyone can be a hero in his own way.

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2 hours ago, Marco9966 said:

I prefer this

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Sonic Colors wasn't built to have Tails in mind mechanically so in my opinion they chose a good way to get him out of the story that fit the characters.

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29 minutes ago, Tangled Jack said:

I know that being a Genius that relies on machines instead of being an action hero is not as cool as Adventure Tails, but what if that is HIS OWN journey? His way of life?

I agree, but at the end of any game Sonic will turn yellow and punch a big hero sized hole in the new doomsday device/monster, and be the real hero of the game. Adventure Tails grows as a person and gets a hero’s medal because he’s a playable character. Tails today doesn’t get that kind of story attention because he’s not playable anymore. Anyways Sonic will always fill the final chapter. Has Sonic ever been shown to need Tails to that degree? Where he couldn’t save the day without him? I immediately think of my first moment of seeing Tails catch Sonic as he floats down from the Death Egg, but that’s still Tails in a supporting role.

I just wish Sega would commit to some spin offs. I believe Sega has the resources to do so. Instead of porting every damn main console game to handhelds, why not focus on a Tails or Knuckles game. As part of the original STK trio they’d be surprised to see that they have just as much visibility as Sonic himself. I wanna drive the Sea Fox!

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Agreed Tails role in Lost world and Forces could have been great if Sonic Team followed up or explored it a little.
More emphasis on Sonic choosing Eggman's advice over Tails, more emphasis on Tails learning he's making the sitaution worse acting as a jerk, and we're getting something.
Lost world's biggest problem is that the story just doesn't have any flow, each cutscene seems to exists in its own dimension, showcasing potentially great storylines but with barely any lead-in or pay-off to any of them.
As for Forces, I wonder if that game's broken story has to do with the rumors of Sega of America protesting against the original dark and edgey vision, and half that games story is just made out of the rubble of their original ideas. Regardless of what happened, the results are a joke.

It would really help if Tails was allowed to be playable again and participate in the adventure. It's easier to write him a subplot when he can actively participate.
Then again, that only works when he has his own story mode and levels, and isn't just tagging along with Sonic a-la Heroes, so maybe that's a bad idea.
Besides, small chance that the supporting cast becomes playable in a mainline Sonic game any time soon, Tails gameplay is hard to implant into a Sonic game and at this point, Sonic Team can barely get Sonic gameplay implanted into a Sonic game.

Instead of making him playable, just overcompensate it in the story.
Man, that sequence in Color's ending where Sonic mocks Tails for being useless before Tails starts ranting about how super important he was in that game really came across to me like the game being insecure about removing Tails from gameplay.
Not helped by the writers making Tails all morally superior and super rightious in Lost world after, as if over-compensating. He's useless in the gameplay department, but oh Boy will we make him super duper awesome in the story to make up for it.

 

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4 hours ago, Marco9966 said:

The worst offense was when Sonic threw Tails in the elevator in Sonic Colors, instead of having him help him like in Sonic Heroes

 

How dare Sonic choose to save his friend from a fight and collapse that he wasn't sure he himself would escape(and he couldn't).

4 hours ago, Wraith said:

That's just Sonic being protective. I like that moment. 

 

3 hours ago, Diogenes said:

That's comparing a fight against some slightly-above-mook-level robots that was written for the sake of introducing Tails, and the climax of a game where they're trying to escape the impending collapse of a space station and are suddenly cornered by Eggman and his super-robot, and Tails worries that they're not going to make it out of that mess. It's both in-character and narratively fitting for Sonic to push Tails to safety and take on the final boss alone, ensuring that his buddy makes it out alive even if it meant putting himself at greater risk.

Essentially.

2 hours ago, Badnik Zero said:

 

The only thing that doesn't get reset back to point 0 is Knuckles as a villain.

 

He was never a villain, tbf.

2 hours ago, Badnik Zero said:

 

Tails is independent? Not next game. Shadow sacrifices himself? Nope he's back being the ultimate jackass. What would an independent Tails do anyways? Half of his purpose is follow Sonic. Look at what Shadow ended up doing. He got a job as a soldier. Do you want Tails to have a job fixing laptops or something?

 

But just like Shadow - What is his role if becomes less attached to Sonic?

 

Funny you mentioned him.

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The only reason Tails is given these "I'm always right" kind of story beats, is because he'd be absolutely inconsequential otherwise. He's basically made useless in pretty much everything outside of machines, so if he was wrong about other things people would ask "Why the fuck is he even here?" I mean I still ask that at times with how the stories are handled, but that's just how poorly they handle him.

For the whole Colors thing, I think it makes sense what the characters did, but it on the other hand it kinda pushes away the whole partners thing. Especially when he never helped at any point before, so this is just another point of never helping. It's just covered up and handled a better way than other times.

He should be right up there with Luigi. He should be synonymous with Sonic as Luigi is to Mario. Yet because of being so badly mishandled he's not. It's kind of infuriating considering this was our player 2. The one who helped plenty of kids like me and my younger brothers of this generation get to play these games. That's an extremely important gameplay role, as well as role in gaming itself for those who were Sega kids. But then player 2 became NPC but still was around which lessened the appeal.

I've ranted a bunch on this topic in the past but the things I see kinda odd are the hyper competent label which is absurd considering he can't really affect much of anything on his own. Hyper competent would fit Shadow far more than Tails. Tails needs Sonic to basically accomplish anything at all in the newer stuff years after where he should feel more independent and grown (Look no further than later Archie to see some of how he's grown). Shadow though really just like Sonic doesn't need help. They're far more hyper competent because really they don't need anybody. Tails as a sidekick is kinda pointless when the hero is far too good for him, as well as not grooming him for greater things. So he comes off as utterly pointless because of eternal stand still status quo stuff.

It's a lot why people gravitate to other Sonic characters like Shadow, Blaze, and sometimes Knuckles. They have some independence. Tails doesn't. He's had a few moments, but mostly isn't really contributing on his own. Mostly cause well he's a partner character and contributes with the hero. But even then as a partner he feels pretty pointless. A lot of what he can do could basically be radio'd over to fix after Sonic pretty much does everything. He doesn't even have to be next to Sonic, and as of lately, it'd probably be better since he's made into a weak coward who is useless. So he might as well sit in that plane until Sonic says it's safe for him to use magic techno skills to pretend to be competent when he's not.

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23 minutes ago, dbzfan7 said:

 

I've ranted a bunch on this topic in the past but the things I see kinda odd are the hyper competent label which is absurd considering he can't really affect much of anything on his own. Hyper competent would fit Shadow far more than Tails. Tails needs Sonic to basically accomplish anything at all in the newer stuff years after where he should feel more independent and grown (Look no further than later Archie to see some of how he's grown). Shadow though really just like Sonic doesn't need help. They're far more hyper competent because really they don't need anybody. 

Eh, in my case at least, it's another thing that mostly comes from Boom, but retroactively carries over a bit on a technically.

 

Meanwhile, Shadow and Blaze are less distinctly hypercompetent(although they're certainly up there) and more just reserved badasses of another story.

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1 minute ago, DabigRG said:

Eh, in my case at least, it's another thing that mostly comes from Boom, but retroactively carries over a bit on a technically.

 

Meanwhile, Shadow and Blaze are less distinctly hypercompetent(although they're certainly up there) and more just reserved badasses of another story.

I don't think it's close at all. Shadow and Blaze are far more competent. They are characters who can work on their own easily. Compared to Tails who really can't work on his own. I did watch early episodes of Boom before quiting, and last I checked when he went on his own to Eggman, he was captured and basically useless. Episode...3...I think it was....I don't know.

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4 minutes ago, dbzfan7 said:

I don't think it's close at all. Shadow and Blaze are far more competent. They are characters who can work on their own easily. Compared to Tails who really can't work on his own. I did watch early episodes of Boom before quiting, and last I checked when he went on his own to Eggman, he was captured and basically useless. Episode...3...I think it was....I don't know.

I know of the trope Hypercompetent Sidekick, so maybe there's some mixup going on.

What I really mean in Boom though is how he's the easily the least fallible, comical, fickle, or unstable of the main cast. Well that and of the episodes/scenes I can recall off the top of my head, his were formulaic and otherwise negligible.

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I don’t mind some of the ideas/premises they’ve had with Tails, even in Lost World and Forces. The problem is each and every time it is executed poorly and the ‘end’ to his particular part in the story is always a letdown. And I fall for it every time, Tails’ own story arc/participation starts and my imagination goes running off with the possibilities, and instead of going anywhere great or meaningful or valuable it fizzles out and ends like a wet fart. It’s 2019 and this has been going on for years now, shame on me for still expecting more, but I can’t help it.

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Boom actually handles Tails the best if I'm honest; because its not a video game, the action doesn't have to center on Sonic all of the time, so the cast are actually allowed to develop independent of him. He's still the most grounded of the cast, but he has quirks that never get spotlighted in the games. He's not just a boy genius, but an extremely socially awkward nerd. His inventions crap out as many times as they work, and it's clear he's not outgoing as Sonic or Knuckles in terms of attitude. But that makes him so much more of an endearing character compared to his video game counterpart.

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21 minutes ago, Kuzu the Boloedge said:

Boom actually handles Tails the best if I'm honest; because its not a video game, the action doesn't have to center on Sonic all of the time, so the cast are actually allowed to develop independent of him. He's still the most grounded of the cast, but he has quirks that never get spotlighted in the games. He's not just a boy genius, but an extremely socially awkward nerd. His inventions crap out as many times as they work, and it's clear he's not outgoing as Sonic or Knuckles in terms of attitude. But that makes him so much more of an endearing character compared to his video game counterpart.

Eh, to me he just seemed like the normal Tails wearing his 30YL accessories--which I think I forgot to specify, actually. It's arguably a complement though, since I don't quite have the preferences/issues most of ya'll havin here..

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4 minutes ago, DabigRG said:

I know of the trope Hypercompetent Sidekick, so maybe there's some mixup going on.

What I really mean in Boom though is how he's the easily the least fallible, comical, fickle, or unstable of the main cast. Well that and of the episodes/scenes I can recall off the top of my head, his were formulaic and otherwise negligible.

Still don't see him as one. Hyper competent sidekick is Penny from Inspector Gadget, though done on purpose.

Couldn't say. I didn't watch all of Boom, I stopped because I thought it was shit, and later season 2 clips I did see were also shit. So I have not bothered to dive in.

8 minutes ago, Kuzu the Boloedge said:

Boom actually handles Tails the best if I'm honest; because its not a video game, the action doesn't have to center on Sonic all of the time, so the cast are actually allowed to develop independent of him. He's still the most grounded of the cast, but he has quirks that never get spotlighted in the games. He's not just a boy genius, but an extremely socially awkward nerd. His inventions crap out as many times as they work, and it's clear he's not outgoing as Sonic or Knuckles in terms of attitude. But that makes him so much more of an endearing character compared to his video game counterpart.

I'll take late Archie or IDW over what I have seen of him in Boom anyday. But from what I have seen I do think is at least better than Unleashed to Forces.

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