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MetalSkulkBane

Is it okay to be a sidekick?

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Robin. Tails. Harley Queen. Umm, Bumblebee I guess

All of the most popular sidekicks have 1 important thing in common: they hate being described as sidekick. Always try go solo on insist they "partners" with main dude.

Overall there is stigma to this word and that got me wondering: is there anything fundamentally flawed with character that is officially less important than main dude? No matter what fancy tittle we give to Tails, he'll never be equal to Sonic, that's just rules.

 

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Outside of the comics, I don' t think I've ever seen Tails hate being called Sonic's sidekick...

In any case, the general function of a sidekick is being a foil to the main character, and cover up their weaknesses and enhancing the strength of the main hero in general. More than often than not, they're younger than the main character to appeal to an even younger demographic and giving them someone to relate to. 

I don't really think there is a stigma against being a sidekick tbh. You literally listed some of the most famous characters in fiction that are sidekicks and still are to an extent. Dick Grayson, the original Robin, is rare in that he's one of the few sidekicks to successfully breakout into being his own hero as Nightwing. That happens way less often than you think. None of the succeeding Robins have enjoyed the same amount of fame or attention as Dick, except arguably Jason Todd. 

 

But no, I don't think there's anything wrong with being a sidekick. When a series has an ensemble cast, with a single obvious "protagonist", then it stands to reason that the next most important supporting characters wouldn't be AS important. But there's nothing really wrong with that, as sidekicks serve an extremely important and vital role. 

Think the only reason there might be a "stigma" against it is because more often than not, the sidekick is just never appreciated as much as their role would imply; they basically have the most thankless job ever. They have to be skilled enough to keep up with the main hero, but not skilled enough to actually surpass them and their efforts are just generally overshadowed by what the hero does, both in-universe and out. And that's probably what you're referring to. 

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No, Tails in the games (and most media actually) is perfectly fine with being a sidekick, he just got frustrated when Sonic was listening to Eggman over him in Lost World.

Granted, sidekicks in general are a lot less common now since modern ensembles are more designed to be able to give any one character more agency, which itself stems from the trend of making the sidekicks want to break off. 

This also just makes me think of Bucky Barnes, Captain America's sidekick (well...he was a long time ago). 

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8 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

Overall there is stigma to this word and that got me wondering: is there anything fundamentally flawed with character that is officially less important than main dude? No matter what fancy tittle we give to Tails, he'll never be equal to Sonic, that's just rules.

That's not entirely fair. He's been the main hero a couple of times, taking on Grand Battle Kukku XV and Witchcart without Sonic's help; the former of which he defeated before even meeting Sonic at all.

But even as a support to Sonic, I don't really think that makes him "less important." At least, it doesn't inherently have to. In the classic games, he was a playable character who fought by Sonic's side, and in the Adventure and Advance games, got his own solo campaigns. It's really only been in the past handful of games that he's shifted from active adventurer to mostly sitting on the sidelines.

If anything, I'd say Tails feels less like Robin and more like Alfred today - filling a mostly noncombatant support role. Still important to the hero, but less of a fellow fighter, which is a bit weird given Tails's roots in the series.

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Tails is kind of weird in that his role has shifted from "the little brother who looks up to Sonic" to being "the smart one". His initial role was rooted in trying but not quite being able to measure up to Sonic, which we all know culminated in Sonic Adventure with being able to stop Eggman without Sonic's assistance. After that, that's when he shifted towards his more techie role starting with using an equivalent mech against Eggman. Sonic Heroes had him briefly relapse into the little brother role, but for the most part, being the techie has been Tails` niche for a while now. 

Think the main reason that he doesn't feel as important is because Sega simply aren't interested in having him break out of his sidekick role, and him becoming his own hero separate from Sonic kind of undermines that.  So his whole arc in SA1 feels kind of wasted at that point. 

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Tails' arc in SA was never about him going completely independent or anything, it was about having confidence in himself and to be himself, to trust in and explore his own abilities rather than always relying on and copying Sonic. Him growing into the brains of Team Sonic rather than just being player 2 is entirely in line with that.

Anyway, you can be the hero, you can be the sidekick, you can be the complete and utter nobody, it's all fine. Not everybody can carry the same level of "importance", in fiction or in real life. Being a "sidekick" is only a problem if they feel they aren't being their full selves because of it, or if people treat them like less because of it.

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2 hours ago, Kuzu said:

Tails is kind of weird in that his role has shifted from "the little brother who looks up to Sonic" to being "the smart one".

But like, he used to be smart and an active adventurer. In his own solo game, Tails Adventure, he incorporated gadgets into his fighting.

Games like Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Heroes, and Sonic Battle also had a mix of Tails using inventions and his natural abilities. So it's not like being a tech-oriented character necessitates being on the sidelines.

Granted, this is symptomatic of a larger issue in the series rather than something specific to Tails, in that (Mania aside) nobody other than Sonic has been playable in a really long time.

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7 minutes ago, Dr. Mechano said:

But like, he used to be smart and an active adventurer. In his own solo game, Tails Adventure, he incorporated gadgets into his fighting.

Games like Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Heroes, and Sonic Battle also had a mix of Tails using inventions and his natural abilities. So it's not like being a tech-oriented character necessitates being on the sidelines.

Granted, this is symptomatic of a larger issue in the series rather than something specific to Tails, in that (Mania aside) nobody other than Sonic has been playable in a really long time.

I'm not saying they can't do those things, I'm saying Sega doesn't want to. They want Tails to be on the sidelines and just be an exposition machine. Everything that has been happening with Tails and the rest of the characters has been deliberate. Sega want these characters to be safe archetypes that they can sell to kids. They COULD follow up on his prior roles and develop him into a smart character who is also an active adventurer, but they're not going to. 

That doesn't necessarily make Tails into a worse character, but if you're someone who has been with this series for a long time and seen his growth in the Adventure games, then it's incredibly frustrating to watch. But that's what Sega wants. 

What Sega needs to do is make Tails feel like he matters again; if they're content on just keeping him in the static role of "Smart guy sidekick", then they have to find a way of making that role feel like it's actually relevant. They tried to do that with Lost World, but the botched execution of that just made fans think they're butchering the character even further. Sega have yet to really sell these recent interpretations of Tails, and that's why people want to go back to what he was before, because what he is now kind of frankly sucks. 

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28 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

Sega have yet to really sell these recent interpretations of Tails, and that's why people want to go back to what he was before, because what he is now kind of frankly sucks. 

I think it's also worth nothing: People like playing as characters they like.

Sega can rationalize that he's better suited to being on the sidelines all day long, but people who used to enjoy him (and others) as playable heroes miss what they used to have. It's going to be an incredibly hard sell to make people okay with no longer having something that used to be a given, even ten years after they committed to that direction.

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30 minutes ago, Dr. Mechano said:

I think it's also worth nothing: People like playing as characters they like.

Sega can rationalize that he's better suited to being on the sidelines all day long, but people who used to enjoy him (and others) as playable heroes miss what they used to have. It's going to be an incredibly hard sell to make people okay with no longer having something that used to be a given, even ten years after they committed to that direction.

We don't really have a choice in the matter anymore. Unless someone steps up and makes a Sonic game with all of the playable characters that people want, Sega have made their choice and made Sonic the only playable character whether fans like or not. 

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Of course it is ok. It's just some people take being a sidekick has been somewhat in the public conscious been lamp shaded which may be where the hate or apathy might come from. No one really likes a sidekick who can't stand out or really offer anything of interest. It's not really fair to compare big comics to Sonic as they're allowed to grow and change status quo. All the Robins for instance have been sidekicks or main characters in their own books or hosting Teen Titans/Titans/Dark Trinity, etc.

Also when has Tails ever hated being a sidekick? He's not someone who cares about the limelight or taking spotlight. He's a true bro who lets Sonic have it all and doesn't step on his toes.

12 hours ago, Kuzu said:

That doesn't necessarily make Tails into a worse character, but if you're someone who has been with this series for a long time and seen his growth in the Adventure games, then it's incredibly frustrating to watch. But that's what Sega wants. 

I disagree. It does. It makes him less flexible as a character as well more static and one note. I guess you can say personality wise it doesn't hurt him, but as a fully realize character it lessens potential and usage for the character which does hurt him if he's an extremely limited character who can only do a handful of things.

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58 minutes ago, dbzfan7 said:

 

I disagree. It does. It makes him less flexible as a character as well more static and one note. I guess you can say personality wise it doesn't hurt him, but as a fully realize character it lessens potential and usage for the character which does hurt him if he's an extremely limited character who can only do a handful of things.

How is being a smart character any more limiting than being a little brother type of character?

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4 hours ago, Kuzu said:

How is being a smart character any more limiting than being a little brother type of character?

That's not what I meant. What I mean is being able to be smart, little brother, and dependable on adventures like before only make him as a character more flexible. I'm not saying being only the smart character or being only the little brother type is better than the other or vise versa. I am saying being more things only leaves room for more potential flexibility. More you can work with a character.

Why limit to just being smart or being just the lil bro? Adapting more traits allows more possibilities. I think that's better than just moving from one archetype to another.

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11 minutes ago, dbzfan7 said:

That's not what I meant. What I mean is being able to be smart, little brother, and dependable on adventures like before only make him as a character more flexible. I'm not saying being only the smart character or being only the little brother type is better than the other or vise versa. I am saying being more things only leaves room for more potential flexibility. More you can work with a character.

Why limit to just being smart or being just the lil bro? Adapting more traits allows more possibilities. I think that's better than just moving from one archetype to another.

After Sonic Adventure, Tails stopped being "the little brother", at least in his original sense. Sonic Adventure was the beginning of growing into his own character and developing traits that differentiate him from Sonic, namely his tech skills. That shift was accompanied by him growing into a more supporting role rather than the active role he's had before in the past. 

I know why this change is unpopular, because his fans don't really like how a character who used to be have a more active role has taken on a more passive one, and the idea that being a passive character inherently makes you inferior. But I think that's a really unfair take and really undervalues the role that Tails occupies now. He can accomplish just as much being in a supportive role, and I feel people's refusal to accept that stems from how lacking his recent interpretations have been, and the idea that being an active adventurer is the only merit a character has. 

 

But even the comic books have started to adopt that role of being more supportive to his peers onto him, but I don't really see anyone complaining Tails` usage there. 

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27 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

I know why this change is unpopular, because his fans don't really like how a character who used to be have a more active role has taken on a more passive one, and the idea that being a passive character inherently makes you inferior. But I think that's a really unfair take and really undervalues the role that Tails occupies now. He can accomplish just as much being in a supportive role, and I feel people's refusal to accept that stems from how lacking his recent interpretations have been, and the idea that being an active adventurer is the only merit a character has. 

I feel like if they made that "supportive role" playable in some capacity, fans would have a much easier time accepting it. Because in the last decade, other than Mania (and the Boom games, which are a separate continuity), Tails hasn't gotten to do much of the actual platforming games.

I genuinely think that's what it comes down to. Consider Luigi, a character who's consistently playable and even routinely gets his own spinoff games. He arguably plays a "more supportive role" than Mario does (in nonplayable appearances like Odyssey, Paper Mario, etc.), but they balance it out and allow him to still be a playable character often enough that nobody forgets that he's also a hero in his own right. His fans are generally satisfied with his appearances in the Mario series, and despite the in-universe running gags that he's often forgotten or neglected, Luigi is anything but when it comes to how the franchise utilizes him.

I'm not even a huge Tails fan, but I recognize that his roots in the series as one of the main playable heroes kind of should be used as precedent for how he's handled now. I understand that fans of the character feel short-changed by his relative lack of prominence over the past decade, and I think that whatever changes Sega is trying to make with the character, they're going about it the wrong way. You can make him more tech-oriented, more supportive, whatever they're trying to do, without relegating him to the sidelines entirely. 

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13 minutes ago, Dr. Mechano said:

I feel like if they made that "supportive role" playable in some capacity, fans would have a much easier time accepting it. Because in the last decade, other than Mania (and the Boom games, which are a separate continuity), Tails hasn't gotten to do much of the actual platforming games.

I genuinely think that's what it comes down to. Consider Luigi, a character who's consistently playable and even routinely gets his own spinoff games. He arguably plays a "more supportive role" than Mario does (in nonplayable appearances like Odyssey, Paper Mario, etc.), but they balance it out and allow him to still be a playable character often enough that nobody forgets that he's also a hero in his own right. His fans are generally satisfied with his appearances in the Mario series, and despite the in-universe running gags that he's often forgotten or neglected, Luigi is anything but when it comes to how the franchise utilizes him.

I'm not even a huge Tails fan, but I recognize that his roots in the series as one of the main playable heroes kind of should be used as precedent for how he's handled now. I understand that fans of the character feel short-changed by his relative lack of prominence over the past decade, and I think that whatever changes Sega is trying to make with the character, they're going about it the wrong way. You can make him more tech-oriented, more supportive, whatever they're trying to do, without relegating him to the sidelines entirely. 

Well let's not pretend like Luigi is always prominent; he kind of disappeared from the series for a long time after Super Mario World, with Luigi's Mansion being the only real break from it. World came out in 1990, and Luigi's Mansion was in 2001. So that's roughly eleven years without Luigi. It wasn't until the Mario & Luigi side series where he really started to make a comeback, and even then his main game appearances are still pretty scarce. 

But the fact of the matter here is, Sega simply do not have the resources to give much attention to other characters...at least compared to before. Given how badly most of the character based Spin offs have done, Sega probably feel like there's just no market to invest in them, so they just shove all of the would be elements in the main games. 

 

I feel like a large issue is Sega seem like they aren't really interested in doing anything with Tails or the other characters, but they're kind of obligated to put them to appease fans. So they're caught between a rock and a hard place. They have no interest in these characters and only really use them out of obligation rather than being genuinely interested in them individually. Usually, you'd have character based spin offs to explore different things, but the series' resources are spread so thin that only the main games and the occasional party game exist now. 

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7 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

It wasn't until the Mario & Luigi side series where he really started to make a comeback, and even then his main game appearances are still pretty scarce. 

I don't know about scarce. Since that comeback, he's been playable in every 2D game (i.e. the NSMB series including his own game Super Luigi U, Super Paper Mario, and Super Mario Maker), and a good chunk of the 3D games (64DS, the Galaxies, and 3D World). 

His absence from World to Luigi's Mansion is in part due to the series not having too many mainline platformers during that period to begin with - with Super Mario Land 2 and Super Mario 64 being the only ones released in that timeframe. Nowadays, if there's a Mario platformer, Luigi is playable more often than he isn't.

Of course, there are still games where he has a purely supporting NPC role, and that's fine. It'd be fine for Tails too. It just shouldn't be all the time, is all I'm saying.

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1 hour ago, Kuzu said:

After Sonic Adventure, Tails stopped being "the little brother", at least in his original sense. Sonic Adventure was the beginning of growing into his own character and developing traits that differentiate him from Sonic, namely his tech skills. That shift was accompanied by him growing into a more supporting role rather than the active role he's had before in the past. 

I know why this change is unpopular, because his fans don't really like how a character who used to be have a more active role has taken on a more passive one, and the idea that being a passive character inherently makes you inferior. But I think that's a really unfair take and really undervalues the role that Tails occupies now. He can accomplish just as much being in a supportive role, and I feel people's refusal to accept that stems from how lacking his recent interpretations have been, and the idea that being an active adventurer is the only merit a character has. 

 

But even the comic books have started to adopt that role of being more supportive to his peers onto him, but I don't really see anyone complaining Tails` usage there. 

It's more that's what was liked in the first place and being put into a basic generic role isn't very fulfilling. The kid techie support on the side role is a done to DEATH trope. It's done all the time. Adding one more drop into a lake isn't exciting. The active kid support is not something done all the time or has become rarer as of late.

I don't think that is the case nor really think it's unfair. This is a video game series. Of course people want to play as their favourite characters and to not be told you can't do what you used to. Of course you can't always play as your favourites. Taking a back seat just isn't interesting. In general the series doesn't have anything interesting for support characters and it's not just a Tails thing or problem. Anyone given the role is hardly given a thing to do. Other than talk of course but that's something that tends to get harped on too for either being annoying or empty.

Like with other characters honestly how much you like a character really determines how much a change effects you personally. If you don't care too much or are lukewarm, then of course another direction likely wouldn't bother you. Look no further than the Amy or Shadow topics where you either have passive people either liking or not really caring about their changes, or people very adamant on things getting worse or disliking change, etc.

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4 hours ago, batson said:

The bigger question is: is it okay to be a sidekick in real life? Hmmm...😕

It's all a matter of perspective - we are all the protagonist of our own story, the sidekick to our friends' protagonists, the background characters in the lives of acquaintances and strangers. We fill a number of roles simultaneously.

Imagining people complexly is hard.

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14 minutes ago, Dr. Mechano said:

I don't know about scarce. Since that comeback, he's been playable in every 2D game (i.e. the NSMB series including his own game Super Luigi U, Super Paper Mario, and Super Mario Maker), and a good chunk of the 3D games (64DS, the Galaxies, and 3D World). 

His absence from World to Luigi's Mansion is in part due to the series not having too many mainline platformers during that period to begin with - with Super Mario Land 2 and Super Mario 64 being the only ones released in that timeframe. Nowadays, if there's a Mario platformer, Luigi is playable more often than he isn't.

Of course, there are still games where he has a purely supporting NPC role, and that's fine. It'd be fine for Tails too. It just shouldn't be all the time, is all I'm saying.

Like I said, in a more ideal reality, the Sonic series would have the same amount of resources to give all of it's supporting characters their own game to shine in like the Mario games do. 

Unfortunately, we don't live in that reality. We live in a reality where resources are scarce and Sega cannot or will not spread themselves thin like they used to. It sucks, it really does and I completely understand, but it is what it is at this point. Maybe Sega will change their minds in the future and give more attention to Tails, or they won't. But we gotta deal with what we got right now. 

5 minutes ago, dbzfan7 said:

It's more that's what was liked in the first place and being put into a basic generic role isn't very fulfilling. The kid techie support on the side role is a done to DEATH trope. It's done all the time. Adding one more drop into a lake isn't exciting. The active kid support is not something done all the time or has become rarer as of late.

I don't think that is the case nor really think it's unfair. This is a video game series. Of course people want to play as their favourite characters and to not be told you can't do what you used to. Of course you can't always play as your favourites. Taking a back seat just isn't interesting. In general the series doesn't have anything interesting for support characters and it's not just a Tails thing or problem. Anyone given the role is hardly given a thing to do. Other than talk of course but that's something that tends to get harped on too for either being annoying or empty.

Like with other characters honestly how much you like a character really determines how much a change effects you personally. If you don't care too much or are lukewarm, then of course another direction likely wouldn't bother you. Look no further than the Amy or Shadow topics where you either have passive people either liking or not really caring about their changes, or people very adamant on things getting worse or disliking change, etc.

This is a matter of opinion, because both roles really aren't all that inspired. If you prefer when Tails was a more active, younger brother character who looked up to Sonic, then fine. I can't change your mind on that. The hardest thing about handling a character like Tails is where exactly is the character supposed to go. If he's peaked his development in SA1, then what exactly does he offer the series at that point? It's easy to just say "Oh, well just give him a new role" but that is a lot easier said than done, because said new role has to make sense for the character. Given the fact that Tails was already established as being a kid genius, long before Sonic Adventure was even a thing, and Sonic Adventure being about the character coming into his own role as a hero, rather than trying to emulate Sonic. I think it makes a lot of sense for them to focus on what Tails himself can do that's just not him copying Sonic. 

Now obviously, this hasn't been a perfect transition and the series just hasn't really given him much, if anything to do after Sonic Adventure 2. I think that's just a greater symptom of Sega wanting to focus on other things, but still being obligated to use Tails because people just expect him to be around, rather than having an actual role for him to play. There's no resources to give Tails or other characters their own spin off games, but Sega really just don't seem interested in makin them playable in the main games for whatever reason.

 

So I don't really know what else to really say at this point; I personally don't really like Tails all that much, but I still sympathize with you and others who want better treatment for him and everyone else, and Sega actively refusing to do so. It's a tough position to be in, and I don't really see an easy solution. 

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59 minutes ago, Kuzu said:

This is a matter of opinion, because both roles really aren't all that inspired. If you prefer when Tails was a more active, younger brother character who looked up to Sonic, then fine. I can't change your mind on that. The hardest thing about handling a character like Tails is where exactly is the character supposed to go. If he's peaked his development in SA1, then what exactly does he offer the series at that point? It's easy to just say "Oh, well just give him a new role" but that is a lot easier said than done, because said new role has to make sense for the character. Given the fact that Tails was already established as being a kid genius, long before Sonic Adventure was even a thing, and Sonic Adventure being about the character coming into his own role as a hero, rather than trying to emulate Sonic. I think it makes a lot of sense for them to focus on what Tails himself can do that's just not him copying Sonic. 

Now obviously, this hasn't been a perfect transition and the series just hasn't really given him much, if anything to do after Sonic Adventure 2. I think that's just a greater symptom of Sega wanting to focus on other things, but still being obligated to use Tails because people just expect him to be around, rather than having an actual role for him to play. There's no resources to give Tails or other characters their own spin off games, but Sega really just don't seem interested in makin them playable in the main games for whatever reason.

 

So I don't really know what else to really say at this point; I personally don't really like Tails all that much, but I still sympathize with you and others who want better treatment for him and everyone else, and Sega actively refusing to do so. It's a tough position to be in, and I don't really see an easy solution. 

Maybe I'm not finding more of these shows or games, but I don't honestly see active kid characters all that much. Either they're kid genius support, annoying family members, or damsels. Active wise I hardly find that at all. Not much outside of Robins, Hit Girl, and some RPG/JRPG characters from time to time. I mean it makes sense he copies Sonic since he idolizes and works under him. It's why in the games and comics they tend to share a couple moves. He has some of his own but hasn't used them since Battle GBA I think.

It's more that they shove him with Sonic, and despite that give him nothing. That's where I think a lot of ire comes from. Simultaneously being there but given nothing to do. You might as well not have him there but they want someone for Sonic to talk to so best friend is the easiest to implement.

Yeah basically how it is with all characters really. I said the same about Shadow in the IDW topic. Couldn't really give a crap but I do understand all the concerns.

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On 12/30/2020 at 7:11 AM, MetalSkulkBane said:

Robin. Tails. Harley Queen. Umm, Bumblebee I guess

All of the most popular sidekicks have 1 important thing in common: they hate being described as sidekick. Always try go solo on insist they "partners" with main dude.

Overall there is stigma to this word and that got me wondering: is there anything fundamentally flawed with character that is officially less important than main dude? No matter what fancy tittle we give to Tails, he'll never be equal to Sonic, that's just rules.

 

I see the Sidekick as the apprentice of the hero, that oneday they will be their own hero, Robin for instance becomes Nightwing and Batman in the comics. 

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