Tails Adventure
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Game Gear
  • Developer:
    • Aspect
  • Publisher:
    • Sega
  • Released:
    • JP 09/22/1995
    • UK September 1995
    • US November 1995
Score: 80%

This review was published on 04/02/2018.

Tails Adventure, referred to as Tails Adventures on the title screen and Japanese packaging, is a side-scrolling platform video game developed by Aspect and published by Sega for the Sega Game Gear. It was originally released in Japan on September 22, 1995, Europe in September 1995, and North America in November 1995. A spinoff from the Sonic the Hedgehog series, this is the second Game Gear title to star Tails as the main character, following Tails' Sky Patrol, which came out exclusively in Japan a few months prior. While most games in the Sonic franchise at the time were indeed side-scrolling platformers, Tails Adventure takes the side-scrolling platforming into a completely different direction. Instead of placing a heavy emphasis on speed like most Sonic games, Tails Adventure is about exploration and, well, adventure. It's closer to Metroid or Super Adventure Island II in that respect. Don't underestimate Tails Adventure, because it's one of the best games available for the Game Gear.

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The original Japanese release has a slightly different story than the versions of the game released in other parts of the world. According to the Japanese version, the events of Tails Adventure occur before Tails met Sonic, making this a prequel to all the games in which Tails and Sonic are pals. However, versions of the game released outside of Japan state that Sonic and Tails already knew each other by this point, and that the two decided to temporarily part ways for a solo adventure. Either way, the tale begins with Tails taking a nap during a sunny afternoon just outside his research lab on Cocoa Island. His slumber is rudely interrupted by a sudden explosion, and before he could do anything, the whole place is set ablaze. A little bird known as a Flicky informs Tails that the imperial Battle Kukku Army has invaded Cocoa Island in search of the Chaos Emeralds in order to conquer the world. Now Tails is the only one who can save the day.

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You'll be taking control of Tails for the majority of this adventure. Pressing left or right on the d-pad allows Tails to move in those directions, down makes him duck, and up commands him to look up. He's able to jump with the 2 button, and if you press the button again after jumping, he'll fly by spinning his two tails like a helicopter blade. Alternatively, Tails can take off from the ground if you press the jump button while holding up on the d-pad. During flight, Tails can smoothly fly in eight directions with the d-pad until his flight meter runs out, and pressing the 2 button will cancel his flight prematurely. If Tails walks or jumps towards a ledge, he'll automatically climb it. Unlike most Sonic games, Tails doesn't turn into a ball whenever he jumps, nor is he capable of performing the Spin Dash without a special item. That means Tails can't attack enemies by jumping into them here. Instead, he begins the game with an unlimited supply of bombs that he can toss by pressing the 1 button. The controls are mostly fine, though Tails is a little slow.

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Rings work very differently than how they do in the mainline Sonic the Hedgehog games. They still keep you alive, but you don't drop them all when you get hit. Rather, Tails loses a portion of his rings when injured, the exact value of which depends on the severity of his injury. Additionally, Tails doesn't visibly drop the rings when hit, so you can't pick up your lost rings like in the regular Sonic games. However, some enemies drop rings when defeated, and some rocks reveal rings when broken. Also, the maximum amount of rings Tails is capable of carrying permanently increases whenever he obtains a Chaos Emerald. Not only that, but Chaos Emeralds also permanently increase the size of Tails' flight meter, allowing him to fly for longer periods of time. Aside from that, the rings basically function like a normal health system in this game. It may seem a little unoriginal, but this change better suits the game's more nonlinear design.

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In addition to the bombs that he starts the game with, Tails will acquire many other items, weapons, and gadgets throughout his adventure. These things include napalms, remote controlled bombs, a mallet, gloves that allow him to lift rocks, boots that make him move faster, a massive helmet he can hide under for protection, night vision goggles that let him see in dark places, a device that instantly teleports him home, and much more. There's even a special item in the shape of Sonic's face that enables Tails to perform the aforementioned Spin Dash. All items are used with the 1 button, but you have to equip them first from the pause menu, which is accessible via the start button. However, Tails can only bring a total of four items with him into any level, and he must return home to change his gear. This means you must choose wisely before setting out on an expedition, otherwise you may have to backtrack to get the right item.

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By far the best item in the game is the Remote Robot, which is known as Mecha Tails in the Japanese manual. This highly useful tool is a tiny robot that Tails controls remotely to scout out areas and squeeze through tight spaces. With the exception of grabbing ledges, it moves and jumps around just like Tails, and it can even fly for an unlimited amount of time if you jump while holding up on the d-pad. While the robot can't attack enemies, it's impervious to almost all forms of damage, except for bottomless pits. Even then, the robot merely comes back to you if it falls into a pit. You can also intentionally recall it to you at any time by pressing the 1 button. That makes it mostly a reconnaissance tool, but the Remote Robot can also activate switches, push rocks, and acquire items. Basically, the Remote Robot is the coolest thing ever.

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On top of everything else it does, the Remote Robot transforms into the Sea Fox, the submarine that first appeared as a power-up in Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble. With the Sea Fox, Tails will be able to explore underwater regions without having to worry about oxygen. When underwater, the Sea Fox can smoothly move in eight directions with the d-pad, and the 2 button causes it to face either left or right. The Sea Fox also has its own set of exclusive items that you'll be obtaining throughout the game. These include weapons like a Vulcan gun, torpedoes, mines, anti-air missiles, and so on. There are also a couple of defensive items, like a shield and extra speed. You swap these around through the pause menu, just like when Tails is on land. Similarly, only four things can be in the Sea Fox's arsenal at a time, so you'll have to return to Tails' home to change stuff around. Normally, undersea exploration in video games isn't very fun, but that isn't the case with the Sea Fox.

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From the map screen, you'll be able to select the area you want to explore. At the outset, there won't be very many locations available, but more get added to the map as you make progress in the game. Often, opening up new areas merely requires reaching the end of a preexisting area. You typically can't fully explore areas on your first time through, though, as certain sections will be blocked off until you have the appropriate item. This means that backtracking is ultimately unavoidable. The game also opens up later on, becoming fairly nonlinear. Not all items are mandatory to complete the game, but you do need quite a few of them. If exploration is your thing, then you'll be sure to enjoy all of the treasure hunting in Tails Adventure. However, the game does suffer from a lack of direction, which frequently results in you wondering where to go next. It also relies on a cumbersome password system to record your progress. These are the only two issues.

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A unique take on the exploratory platformer, Tails Adventure is worth playing whether you're a Sonic fan or not. This tiny cartridge is choke-full of content, featuring a plethora of neat items, cool areas to explore, and some of the best 8-bit visuals out there. This game is worth playing for the Remote Robot alone, but it has far more to offer. Tails Adventure is a great game to check out if you like great games.

Word Count: 1,441

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