… and hasn’t been for over ten years, but that hasn’t stopped a rather surprising amount of worry, grumpiness and desperate forum emoting after one of the last “Colours 7″ facts, namely the one referencing Tails as more interested in inventing than Sonic’s heroics. “Tails is ruined!” They cried, in much the same way someone would say the sky is falling, sigh, well all I can do is try and clarify where we are nowadays with Tails because some people still seem to think the character boundaries are the same as they were in Sonic 2.
All I can say to that is to look back at the modern history and even the overall history of Tails to see why the old impetuous Tails of the Classics, gamely following Sonic around as his #1 fan and getting in the way/getting shot/ruining your special stage attempt can not be again. Unless you reboot everything of course.
Tails since Adventure has been set up as a character who is determined to prove to Sonic and himself that he is his own fox. In Adventure, Tails has a solo showdown with Dr. Eggman to save Station Square after which he is hailed as a hero in his own right by the people… of course then Perfect Chaos destroyed it anyway, but hey, what are you gonna do? Adventure 2 is significant because during the sequence when Sonic is believed to have been killed Tails is left with a task by Sonic – a tacit acknowledgement that Sonic can count on Tails to be the hero and do his own thing. This progression continues in Heroes when he is – partly due to the dynamic of the game in fairness – essentially given an equal footing to Sonic and Knuckles and he even figures out that something is not quite right before everyone else does. He’s clearly developed over time – heck he’s got a secondary career as an academic (see: Unleashed).
Yes, Tails is your engineer supreme – he was Support class in Chronicles for a reason – but since their initial meeting that’s always been the way. Tails is the one with the gizmos and know how and backs Sonic up, when he needs to get into ass-kicking mode he can lay a beatdown on anyone. Even Sonic.
[Author’s note: Why is it that when anyone of the main cast clocks Sonic in the comics I find it strangely satisfying? STH#205 anyone?]
But again in every continuity I know of for Sonic there’s always been that progression towards independence and as time passes you get used to certain things. I put it on the SSMB thus – you eat a jam tart every day (yes bear with me on this one) without fail, if you then after many months go to your friend “hey I’ve got a jam tart for lunch today” chances are they aren’t going to be surprised. Likewise after many many battles when it comes to badniks Tails knows Sonic can handle it so isn’t going to be as “impressed” as his younger-self. At several points in Colours both Sonic and Tails reference the fact that their present adventure is hardly their first. Indeed, at one point before a boss fight to free a Wisp planet Sonic openly calls out to Eggman to reason with him that he always loses in these situations and it’d be better for them both if Eggman just left and save himself the bother of having to replace another big robot.
Of course the Doctor doesn’t see it quite that way.
However, quite by chance I stumbled across a cutscene the other day where Sonic and Tails directly address the fact that they are both somewhat experienced by now with Sonic essentially doing just what I said with the jam tart – enthusiastically reporting another badnik having its interface kicked in. Leaving Tails to somewhat awkwardly respond that he had kind of gathered that fact. What I originally referenced with the “Foxy Fact” tho was an earlier cutscene which I won’t go into – mainly as you might well see it at some point (fingers crossed) – which explains the situation perfectly. Oh by the way with regard to another factoid Tails doesn’t mind going very fast, but extreme velocities is where he has a bit of an issue.
Things aren’t bad in Foxyland at the moment folks, oh no, quite the reverse. Find anyone who has heard Tails speak with his new voice and ask them about it, every community person I’ve spoken to are very much of an opinion that we have a rocking new voice for him – Tails’ most consistently criticised aspect. Heck Tails is at least in the “main” games consistently still even if he’s an NPC. The last main canon game Knuckles was in was Sonic 06 – and technically that never happened!
The point is just because Tails isn’t following one metre behind Sonic at all times that doesn’t mean the character is ruined. Tails is still a little naive, and can get quite scared, Tails still admires Sonic and Sonic still considers Tails his best friend, but they are much more equals nowadays. He might be still 8 officially, but he has clearly grown up and matured over the years, and that’s a good thing, its made him a richer and more three-dimensional character whom we can enjoy and discuss on many more levels. Now honestly, what’s wrong with that?