The Naming of Tails from "Console Wars"

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Tanks, Aug 26, 2014.

  1. Tanks

    Tanks

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    So I've been reading through Console Wars (and its a really fucking good book all you fucks should stop being neckbeards and crack a novel every once in a while eh?) and I happened across an interesting portion during Sonic 2's early development. Apparently it was Al Nilsen who was tapped by SoA to convince Naka and the Sonic Team that the name Miles Prower wouldn't sell. The section features what is supposedly Al's original origin story for Tails' character which seems to be strikingly similar to Sonic 2's US story featured in the game manual.

    "Still, this wasn't an ego contest between SOA and SOJ; rather, it was about doing what was best for Sega and the fictional Sonic universe. Sega of America decided upon the name Tails, and Schroeder took this to the developers, who were unwilling to budge. Toyoda tried to mend fences, perhaps even find a compromise, but there was no progress to be made. With common sense and politics failing them, Nilsen and Schroeder resorted to Kalinske's favorite asset of all: story. After they finished crafting a compelling backstory, Nilsen drove out to Palo Alto so he could share the tale.

    Toyoda joined him at the Sega Technical Institute, where it was clear that the Sonic Team was less than thrilled to see them. In their minds, this was another case of the Americans imposing their will purely for its own sake. Nilsen knew they felt that way, and he was aware that there was little he could do to prove to them that this wasn't the case. All he had was his short story, which he hoped would be enough. He cleared his throat, ignored the glares, and began reading from "The Renaming of Miles Monotail."

    This is the story of Miles Monotail. Miles was your average four-year-old fox. He loved to play with his friends, but his friends weren't really his friends. Whenever they saw Miles, they laughed and made fun of him. Why? Well, Miles wasn't like all of the other foxes. Miles Monotail had two tails. And as kids tend to do when someone is different, they made fun of him. It didn't help that Miles sometimes tripped over his second tail and went rolling down the hill. coordination was not one of Miles' virtues. Because of the rough time that his friends gave him, Miles became very depressed.

    One day he was walking along with his head hanging down when a blur and a whoosh crossed his path. There's only one person that could be moving that fast, and that is Sonic the Hedgehog. Miles thought Sonic was the greatest person in the world. Miles wish that he could be as cool and coordinated as Sonic was. And, most of all, he wanted to meet Sonic. This was his big chance. Miles took a deep, deep breath and at the top of his lungs yelled out, "SONIC!" The blur that was Sonic turned around and stopped in front of Miles. "You called?" said Sonic.

    "Oh, Sonic, you're my hero," exclaimed Miles as he ran around and around Sonic. Well, you can guess what happened next - Miles tripped over his second Tail and fell down. Tears came to his eyes.

    "Hey, cheer up little fellow. What's the matter?" said Sonic.
    "Sonic, I want to be just like you, but I'm a freak. I've got two tails."

    Sonic leaned over to Miles and said kindly, "You're no freak. You're more special than anyone because you have something that everyone else doesn't have. And you can do things that they can't. If anything, your friends should be jealous of you."

    "But I can't do anything special," cried Miles.
    "Oh yes you can," Sonic said. "I'll show you. You're about to enter Sonic's special training camp."

    Well, Miles couldn't be happier. His hero took him under his wing and started teaching Miles how to use his two tails to his advantage. He showed Miles how to curl his tails up under his body so that he was like a very aerodynamic ball and could do Sonic's famous Supersonic Spin. Sonic then taught Miles how to use his two tails as a helicopter rotor so that Miles could fly around. Even Sonic couldn't do that. Needless to say, Miles was ecstatic. He was special, and when his friends saw what Miles could do and what they couldn't do, they became very jealous, but also every single one of them wanted to become Miles' best friend. But Miles had a new best friend. Someone who believed in him. Someone who was his hero. And that friend was Sonic. Sonic was happy that he could help his buddy gain new confidence and new abilities.

    "See, Miles, you ARE special because you have two tails. And because of that, I'm going to give you a very special nickname. From now on, I'm going to call you Tails because you should always be reminded that you are special because you have two tails."
    So from that day forward, Miles Monotail became known as Tails.

    When Nilsen finished, he folded the paper and slid it in to his pocket. The members of Sonic Team, who'd been planning on hating every word out of Nilsen's mouth, found themselves entranced by the story. One developer was even moved to tears.

    After allowing a moment to let it sink in, Naka walked up to Nilsen and said, "You may call him Tails." Although moved, several of Sonic team's other members remained unconvinced. Sensing that the momentary camaraderie was about to fizzle away, Toyoda blurted out a compromise: "How about his real name is Miles Prower, but Sonic calls him by the nickname Tails?" This suggestion managed to do the trick: the fox would go by Tails, but Sonic Team would take solace that in the fact that in a fictional filing cabinet somewhere, there was a birth certificate with the name Miles Prower." (Pgs. 245-247)

    There's a whole lot more in this book that's revealing of Sega and Sonic and I can't post all of it so I highly suggest you guys give Console Wars a read, but I figured this stands out as something quite important to the community as its an origin story we haven't yet actually seen.
     
  2. Jason

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    The book looked interesting to me, but I read some reviews on how it was essentially a screenplay in disguise, which I wasn't too keen on reading. Does it read well enough as a history of the two companies, or is it overly sensationalized for the in-progress movie?
     
  3. MarkeyJester

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    The story there kinda reminded me of this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oJl4YuyT5I

    It's rather interesting that SOJ happened to dislike the decision, mind you, it doesn't appear to be the first time, Sonic's change in appearance during the first developement appears to have striked a bit of... "tension" ... between SOJ and SOA, hell knows how far this debating between the two sides have gone on through the years.
     
  4. Tanks

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    It reads extremely well in my opinion. Yes, its dialogue and character building heavy, but its equal parts that and historical detail.

    The book is extremely detail oriented and loves its tangents. And its history isn't even just Sega and Nintendo. While yes, they are the two main players and the book is essentially written from the perspective of Sega, it also features the rise of Sony, the fall of Atari, and the other various companies connected to the industry. Its really a detailed history of the VG industry in the US as seen from the perspective of Sega.
     
  5. FollOw

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    The family vacation dragged on a little too long for my taste among other issues....maybe I'll come back to it some time
     
  6. JaxTH

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    Jack shit.
    The family vacation is WHEN he got the job.
     
  7. Tanks

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    No major spoils but you sit through a few pages of description for Nakayama of SoJ to just waltz the fuck up to him. On a beach. In a suit. In the middle of fucking Hawaii. The idea was Kalinske just didn't give a fuck after Mattel and then this guy plays a ballsy move to ruin someone's family vacation in such a spectacular way. I thought it was a rather impressive build up. :P
     
  8. Overlord

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    Can't say I blame them for thinking that, this was something SoA did a LOT. Also, "Monotail"? Was there a reason he didn't stick Prower on as the surname other than the fear of pissing the devs off even more? Truly weird.
     
  9. LordOfSquad

    LordOfSquad

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    He probably either didn't get the pun, or just really liked alliteration.
     
  10. JaxTH

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    Jack shit.
    The pun is the entire reason he came up with that story to call Tails "Tails".
     
  11. LordOfSquad

    LordOfSquad

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    The other pun. Miles Prower = Miles Per Hour
     
  12. JaxTH

    JaxTH

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    That's what I'm talking about. What other pun was there?
     
  13. LordOfSquad

    LordOfSquad

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    There wasn't one but I thought maybe you were seeing one that I wasn't. I haven't read the book (yet) so did he just think the pun was stupid or what? I don't know what other reason there would be to change Prower to Monotail.
     
  14. Tanks

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    If its any consolation, before he makes the speech at STI, Nilsen mentions (in the book at least) that he doesn't like the name Miles in general as it reminds him of some kid in grade school he didn't like too much. :P
     
  15. Vangar

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    I think if they didn't force the name tails all character names in the series would be less stupid today. Sonic isn't called 'Fasty', and yet we have characters like "Big" "Shadow" "Silver". The progression gets worse and worse. I can only wonder what would have happened if they stuck with the pun.
     
  16. ICEknight

    ICEknight

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    To be honest, I always thought the "Tails" part felt a bit forced in the pre-title screen, and it only served me to hide the "Miles Prower" pun (which I also suspect Nilsen didn't get right away) for a few years.


    EDIT: By the way, here's something from one of the first interviews I did:
    So we at least know of one "pro-Miles team" member. =P
     
  17. Linkabel

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    You know, somehow I thought that particular piece of history was well known. In fact, I don't think there wasn't any cool/rare Sonic information in the book that isn't common knowledge. The book does offer a lot of behind - the - scenes information on Sega, Nintendo, Sony, EA etc etc like what did SOA think of the first Sonic commercial, the start of the Welcome to the Next level campaign, Oshima saying how he came up with Sonic's design, Nintendo's sales strategies and the start of the Playstation.

    Overall the book is a good read, but I do agree on the criticism that it's apparent that the book is just the first draft of a screenplay instead of taking a more journalism approach like other books of its kind. And you can tell since some of the dialogue is so cringe worthy. A particular part where Kalinske and Madeline are having a conversation made me gag a little bit because it made me think, "I really hope people don't talk like that in real life."

    Even in the author's note there's a part that says, "In certain situations, details of settings and descriptions have been altered, reconstructed, or imagined." Which kind of sucks because you don't know which situations were changed (but you sort of get a feeling on some of them)

    I would still recommend the book if you want a good read though.
     
  18. Falk

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    [​IMG]
     
  19. Blastfrog

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    Y'know, I always have wondered how Tails is able to use his tails as a helicopter without them twisting together after only a few revolutions. It must mean that they're pretty loose at the socket, but that still doesn't take into account the skin getting twisted up. Maybe that's what causes Tails to stop flying after a few seconds and not exclusively fatigue? I think I might be overthinking this.

    Oh, and Nilsen's story sounds like a bad fanfic if it was literally written exactly like that and wasn't just the author's poorly written interpretation.
     
  20. Chimera

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    I always said SEGA and Sonic Team allow for so much bad fanfiction to exist because their work is no better :V

    Hell, if that story MOVED some of the devs (and drove one to tears), that's... a pretty good sign that early on these people had a very low bar for quality control in writing. :|