It’s been quite some time since I made any vector art, so I thought I would see to fixing that this evening, especially as I never really have been that skilled in the practice. With it being the season of comfort and familiarity, I fell back on not Saint Nick (besides, I’ve already drawn him!) but Miles ‘Tails’ Prower, the airborne sidekick to Sonic the Hedgehog.
Reaching the final piece took a lot longer than I expected, and indeed it probably took longer than you think looking at it… pushing two hours, actually – which perplexes when I think of what I’ve proven I can draw in that time.
I always preferred Tails to Sonic in both games and the TV spin-offs. Especially in the TV series. Sonic was such a contemptible brat in those shows, with his unapologetic arrogance and a line of catchphrases and slogans that even I found to be corny. He only made you root for Long John Baldry’s Robotnik even more. But indeed, pff, Sonic is fast. Big deal. Tails can fly. Who wouldn’t want that ability? I would always play as just him in the games.
At least, where that was possible. Tails made his debut in Sonic 2, which was released in 1992 on the Master System and Mega Drive consoles. The 8-bit version is not a watered-down port,but a wholly different game – while Tails is all over the box art and in-game graphics, to my heartbreak he is not actually a playable character. The opening sequence shows Tails being kidnapped by Robotnik, and of course, as Sonic, you must rescue him. This is achieved by collecting the Chaos Emeralds that are hidden within each zone – if you get to the end (bloody unlikely – this game is pure evil) with all of the Emeralds (even more unlikely) then you face off against Robotnik for one last (evil) battle to win back your vulpine companion.
(I’ve no doubt the real story is that Tails as a playable character was dropped due to time constraints, and they had to hobble together said storyline to make it work.)
If, however, you don’t collect them all, the game ends a zone early and you get a long and melancholic tune of the credit sequence, played out over Sonic running seemingly endlessly across a landscape. Then, he grinds to a halt and looks up:
Tails in the sky? Is Tails in heaven? HAS TAILS BEEN KILLED BY ROBOTNIK? Christ, this used to make me feel so awful, and it was definitely an impetus to never miss a bloody Emerald ever again. It was also a reason I steered clear of this game as a child; I didn’t want Tails’ death on my conscience.
Then, later I found that, on the good ending, the same thing happens… only with both Sonic and Tails in the sky. To be honest, I find this a little confusing. Why are their ghostly countenances in the sky a good thing, and if it is a good thing, why is Tails there whether we rescued him or not? Am I missing something? Be a dear and help me out here.
Looking at the game with a (barely) more mature eye and noticing different things, I rather like the simplicity of the level cards that pop up before each Act, with the quintessential Sonic landscape passing through the lettering. So, while hanging around and irritating Illustrator, I made an entire alphabet of such a design:
Play Sonic 2 on the Master System, and you’ll be seeing this screen a lot. With its mocking abruptness and sinister 8-bit musical accompaniment, I used to run and hide at this point. I’m not sure what I was expecting to happen.