The things that make this hard is that magazines during that time either had stellar reporting or they were straight up pulling stuff out of their ass. For example, some magazines had all the information we're talking about in this thread, but also had false information like Sonic going to revisit Station Square and Mystic Ruins. (A lot of the Green Forest screenshots tended to be labeled as a stage in Mystic Ruins) So who knows if the Tails wasn't playable or the choose your route are correct. I get the feeling that there might've been some mistranslation around the time that caused this. For example, Sonic Team saying that they only had some of the Sonic, Knuckles and Eggman gameplay ready to show, but they were still working on Tails and the others. (And let's remember that Shadow and Rouge were being kept secret for a bit till the Jazwares leak) But it was understood as only those 3 being playable. With the "backlash" causing them to add Tails being just a rumor and guess that picked up steam as time went on.