Tails' Skypatrol (テイルスのスカイパトロール Teirusu no Sukaipatorōru?) is a spin-off game of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, developed by JSH and published by Sega for Sega Game Gear. It is one of two handheld games on the Game Gear to feature Sonic's sidekick Miles "Tails" Prower as the main character. The game follows the adventures of Tails as he tries to save an island from Witchcart, who claims to be able to turn dissenters into crystals with her magic.
It was originally released on 28 April 1995 as an exclusive game to the Japanese market. However, Tails' Skypatrol later saw an overseas release as it was included as an unlockable mini game in the Nintendo GameCube's Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut, and was re-released as one of the featured games in Sonic Gems Collection.
Tails decides to go on his own adventure, without his friend Sonic. He was flying aimlessly when he stumbled upon a solitary island with a huge steel railroad. He worried that Dr. Eggman was making yet another base, so he checked it out. When he arrived, he sensed vibrations on the railroad, so he jumped into the bushes to hide. To his confusion, an eccentric lady naming herself the great Witchcart rode past him and announced to no one in particular that she owns the island and claimed that dissenters will be turned to crystal. Tails was determined to rescue the Animals of the island, so he went to oppose Witchcart and her like-minded minions.
The gameplay of Tails' Skypatrol is less in line with the familiar platforming style of the traditional Sonic games. There are no rings or emeralds to be collected, Dr. Robotnik is entirely absent and Tails is constantly "suspended" in flight mode. Stages are cleared simply by completing each course from left to right. Automatic scroll constantly moves Tails along the level; should he fall, bump into objects or touch the ground, he loses a life.
Across each stage Tails carries a golden ring with him which he can throw as a projectile to defeat enemies or break walls. Using the ring, he will also latch on to any number of devices the player will encounter in each stage, ranging from gymnastics bars to railcarts. It is Tails' only form of attack to damage enemies and it can even be used to grab bosses and other items in the area.
In order to stay afloat, the player must constantly watch Tails' flight meter, which slowly drops to zero. Scattered across the map are mint candies which Tails can collect to replenish his stamina.
Tails starts off his adventure in the "Training Area", a colorful seaside highland without foes. If one manages to complete this introductory stage, Tails flies on to the first genuine level, RailCanyon Area.
|Miles "Tails" Prower|
|left||Slow down the pace of flight.|
|Hold / down||Swing the Ring further forward.|
|Press / rapidly||Stop the descent after taking a hit.|
|START button||Pauses the game.|
Gimmicks and obstacles
Tails' Skypatrol was originally developed by JSH as a game completely unrelated to the Sonic series. It was planned to be a launch title for another company's monochrome handheld video game system. The system was intended as a cheaper alternative to Nintendo's Game Boy, but with a more educational focus. However, the system was canceled before the company even put out a press release.
In order to recoup some of the costs of making the game, which had been completed, the developers were asked if they could get the game running on Game Gear, which had similar hardware specifications and screen resolution to the canceled system. JSH's business team approached Sega, who decided that Tails should be the star of the game. The gameplay remained the same, for the most part, but changes were made to the world design to better fit the new license, character graphics were redrawn and the game balance was adjusted for the new hardware. A training stage and demo scenes were also added.
The Disney Connection
The April 1995 edition of Sega Video Magazine featured gameplay footage of a prototype version of Tails' Skypatrol. In the footage of the second stage boss, Tails is shown fighting the popular Disney cartoon villain Pete, rather than Bearenger. This suggests that the original version of the game used a Disney IP, such as Mickey Mouse.
In response to a comment on Twitter, observing that Tails' Skypatrol's villains look more like Disney characters than Sonic characters, programmer Alice Kagamino (Captain Alice) stated that they could not go into specifics, but that the enemy designs carry the same impression as the originals.
Tails' Skypatrol was included alongside 11 other Sonic Game Gear titles in Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut, released for Nintendo GameCube and PC in 2003. A new Game Gear game is unlocked after collecting 20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 110, 120, and 130 Emblems and completing 20, 40, and 60 missions. After a game has been unlocked, it is available in the Mini-Game Collection, accessible from the main menu. Tails' Skypatrol is the 10th game in the sequence to be unlocked.
- Character design: ©Sega
- Game design: Kenichi Ono ("K3"), LR
- Graphic: Mt. Emerald, Show
- Sound: Chikayo Fukuda ("Chikayo"), Kazunechan
- Programming: AT-AT, Captain Alice, Bryan
- Thanks to: Monty, Ezachan, Mr. Rental, Fine-Twig, SIMS All Staff, JSH All Staff, and You.
- Tails Skypatrol (Sega Game Gear) Japanese instruction manual pgs. 5-7.
- GDRI (Game Developer Research Institute) (English). Retrieved on 26 February 2019.
- A timeline of Twitter posts by @alice_kagamino relating to Tails' Skypatrol (Japanese). Twitter. Retrieved on 26 February 2019.
- Sonic The Hedgeblog (English). Retrieved on 26 February 2019.
- Sega Video Magazine April 1995 (Japanese). Youtube. Retrieved on 26 February 2019.
- Alice Kagamino on Twitter (Japanese). Twitter. Retrieved on 26 February 2019. “そうして出来上がったX版はもちろんキャラクターはテイルスではなく… あんまり詳しく書けませんが、敵のキャラデザはわりと印象が残っているのであとはご想像におまかせします。”