When I was a young boy, the first video game I ever played was Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis. I wasn’t very good – for the longest time I couldn’t get past the second level, Marble Zone. But like many younger siblings (as I was the youngest) I did what I could to succeed. I asked my older brother – who had beaten the whole game, whoa! – to help me beat the hard part, a.k.a. do it for me.
For the record, I think it’s a maturity thing for any kid who did this. If I wasn’t winning, I wasn’t having fun. I didn’t even have to play the game, I just wanted to be the winner. No wonder I hated Demon’s Souls when it came out. Hint: I was still pretty young then, too.
I mean, look at Tails up there. In special stages, he’ll never be in front.
But when my family got a PC that the kids could use, the kids of the house quickly played a massive amount of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Knuckles. Once again, a young Jeremy Brown was going to play a lot of the first zone, then get crushed by the unforgiving second one — this time it was Hydrocity Zone. Luckily, there was another way to play. My brother would be Sonic, “the blue blur,” but I’d get to be the sidekick, Miles “Tails” Prower. He wasn’t as fast –though I would never admit that to myself — but he could fly, and even better was the fact that he couldn’t actually die.
These moments in my life were the first time I had not only played a cooperative game, but also the first time I felt I was succeeding in a game. It wasn’t true, though.
Alright, almost anyone whose ever played Sonic the Hedgehog 3 with 2 players knows that the Tails player gets the short end of the stick. He’s not as fast, and because there’s only one screen, the camera stays on Sonic. Meaning, if you have perfect team coordination, like the nanomachines in MGS 4: Guns of the Patriots, your duo will remain intact. If you’re a human being, though, Tails gets stuck way off-screen to the left and you have to wait for “Player One” to stop for a moment to catch his breath before you can even get back to the gameplay.
This is taken one nano-second before Tails is left in the dust.
In many ways, he’s the epitome of the younger gamer sibling. Eager to help the greater good, eager to please the more successful figure, and hungering for validation — I feel for the guy. I understand his plight, because I connected with his gameplay in such a way that made me feel embodied by him.
It was one of my favorite co-op game memories, until I played as him recently, and I realized something. From a game standpoint, Knack‘s co-op felt flawless when compared with Sonic the Hedgehog 3′s. It’s really bad, but it was just what I needed. It let me have fun with my brother and sister, when they played as Sonic and I as Tails.
He’s the little brother of gaming, always ready to keep coming back, no matter how far behind he gets. In that last respect, I still connect with him… I have a lot of games to finish.
Let me know your thoughts or any other characters you’ve connected with over the years in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!