We've Got The Prower: Why Tails Is The Best Part Of Sonic The Hedgehog

Growing up poor meant that my family could never afford a gaming system, which means my entire exposure to playing video games until last year is rooted in playing my friends' consoles during play dates, the handheld Gameboy when visiting the orthodontist, the hand-me-down Playstation 2 we snagged at a garage sale long after it was considered outdated, and hanging out in dorm rooms once I went to college. "Sonic the Hedgehog" is one of my favorite video game characters of all time, but at 31-years-old, I've never played a Sonic game as Sonic.

A perpetual "Player 2" for my entire life, I am very accustomed to waiting long periods of time watching a friend play multiple levels, only to die immediately when it was my turn and thus handing back the controller. I was teased relentlessly as a kid for being bad at video games, and even ex-partners well into adulthood made me feel terrible for not having "Super Mario Bros." levels memorized. I can't even compare myself to playing like a kid, because if playing "Halo 3" showed me anything, it's that a lot of 12-year-old boys out there sure do like to tell me over headset how much I suck. I love video games, but I don't have the years of practice like my peers. 

Luckily, there's one character who has always been there for me, and always made me feel welcome to the gaming world, and that's Miles "Tails" Prower.

An Introduction to Tails

After Sonic was introduced by Sega in an attempt to be their version of Nintendo's Mario, the company knew they needed to develop a player 2 character to rival the other Super Mario Brother, Luigi. Enter: Tails. Debuting in November 1992 with the release of "Sonic the Hedgehog 2," Tails was not an independent character, but instead the perfect addition to Player 1. Sonic and Tails would tackle levels in tandem, with the camera following only the progress of Sonic. Tails couldn't "die" unless Sonic did, and if Player 1 sped up too fast, Tails would magically pop into frame and Player 2 could continue maneuvering the character. Playing as Tails gave me the opportunity to play along with my friends without ever hindering their progress or being responsible for a "loss." Tails had my back, and I became a lifelong devotee.

Canonically speaking, Tails is an anthropomorphic fox with twin-tails, and was bullied as a youngster because of it. After meeting Sonic, Tails was inspired to be just as cool as him, and by using his twin-tails to fly by rotating them like a helicopter, he could pick up just as much speed as the blue blur himself. Tails is also the gifted pilot of "The Tornado," Sonic's biplane, and a mechanical genius with intellect rivaling that of Dr. Robotnik/Eggman. As the games progressed, the gentle and sweet-natured Tails has developed more courage, confidence, and has grown into an outgoing, brave, and independent hero on his own. For anyone who has ever felt outshined or lesser-than, Tails speaks right to the heart. Don't get me wrong, I love Luigi Mario a whole lot, but Tails just gets me, man.

Tails on the Big Screen

I saw the first "Sonic the Hedgehog" movie during an advance matinee screening where my wife and I were the oldest people in attendance that weren't parents chaperoning their children. I made friends with a 7-year-old girl who jumped on her seat and screamed like the women who had seen The Beatles perform on "The Ed Sullivan Show" when Sonic starting flossing (the dance move, not the dental hygiene practice for my old-timers), and the pure adrenaline and joy that filled the theater made that viewing one of my all-time favorite movie-going experiences. As the pre-credits scene covered the screen, I heard the little girl next to me whisper "Eggman" as Jim Carrey's Dr. Robotnik shaved his head on the Mushroom Planet. I gripped my wife's hand as hard as I could and whipped my head to whisper, "If Tails shows up, I'm going to cry." The scene ended, Robotnik marched around, and there was no Tails in sight. Admittedly, I was a little let down, but the film's credits were a fun homage to the video games, so we kept our butts firmly planted. "Impossible," I thought out loud. "How could there be no reference to Tails at all?"

And then the post-credits scene happened. The moment the leaves started swirling, I gasped and slid to the end of my seat. There stood my beloved buddy Tails, overlooking Green Hills, Montana, feeling relieved that he'd finally tracked down the elusive Sonic. Suddenly, all of those childhood memories came flooding back, and I couldn't help myself. Reader, I started WEEPING.

More Than Just a Sidekick

Until "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" comes out, there's no telling just how Tails is going to be incorporated into the cinematic world, but it's clear that Tails is being treated as more than a second banana. His introduction in the mid-credits scene shows that Tails has been on the lookout for Sonic. His following of Sonic isn't because he thinks he's so cool and wants to be just like him, he's tracking him on a mission. Based on the trailer, when Tails introduces himself to Sonic, he's flying The Tornado and it looks like he's just saved Sonic's butt. That's not sidekick behavior, that's heroism.

As much as I love Sonic, Tails will always be my hero. His loyalty knows no bounds, he's WAY cuter, and he's got a much better grasp on how to defeat Dr. Robotnik because he can deconstruct his machines. Skill wise, Sonic notoriously cannot swim, which means if anything submerges, it's up to Tails to retrieve it. Sonic can fly by way of The Tornado, but Tails can fly on his own as well as pilot the plane. Sonic is a cool dude, but Tails is a genuine good lil' fox. The duo make a great team, and I'm not one for pitting strong, adorable, anthropomorphic creatures against one another, but when we get down to brass tacks, I'm full speed ahead on Tails.