Tails' Skypatrol (テイルスのスカイパトロール) is a Sonic the Hedgehog spin-off game for the Sega Game Gear which was released exclusively in Japan. Players assume command of Miles "Tails" Prower in a permanent flying state, who must save an island by defeating the evil villainess Witchcart. This is the only appearance by Witchcart and her companions in any Sonic or Sonic-related game. Dr. Eggman, the villain of most Sonic games, is not featured in the game nor referenced.
The game appears designed for younger audiences but is extremely difficult, as Tails falling, bumping into an object or touching the ground makes the player lose a life.
It is partially unknown who has made the game, since the credits of the games are full of abbreviated names and pseudonyms. Very few "real" names actually exist, and whether there are one or two people is also never confirmed.
One day, Tails decides to go on an adventure of his own, independent from Sonic, and explore in the sky with no destination in mind. During his flight, he discovers a lone island in the middle of the ocean, and decides to make a landing there, where he discovers steel tracks stretching across the land and not a single animal in sight. This doesn't appear to be the work of Dr. Eggman, but is the work of Witchcart, a mysterious human figure who has taken over the island and intends to turn anyone who opposes her into crystals, and sends her minions out to patrol the various areas of the island. Even if Sonic isn't around, Tails is determined to stop her and save the island.
Tails' Skypatrol is not a traditional platformer and instead is more similar to a shooter. There are no Rings or Chaos Emeralds to be collected and Tails is constantly "suspended" in flight mode. Tails cannot stop moving during gameplay, unless the game is paused, and he cannot turn around to move in the opposite direction at will. He can, however, move up and down by pressing or on the D-Pad. He can also slow down by holding or speed up by holding .
The objective of the game is to fly to the end of the stage, avoiding obstacles and destroying enemies with a golden Ring, which he can throw as a projectile by pressing or . Holding or before releasing will make the Ring spin around Tails, strengthening the throw and making the Ring go farther, similar to how the Spin Dash move works in traditional Sonic games. The Ring can also be used to latch on to any number of devices the player will encounter in each stage, ranging from gymnastics bars to railcarts, however the Ring cannot latch on to objects while it is spinning around Tails.
The screen is fixed and constantly moves along with Tails. In order to stay afloat, Tails' flight meter, which slowly drops to zero, must be replenished by collecting Mint Candy scattered in each level. After taking a hit from an enemy or projectile, Tails will begin spiraling out of control. Rapidly pressing or before he runs into the ground or a wall will stop the descent and regain control of Tails, but will cost a portion of the flight meter. If Tails collides with the terrain or runs out of flight meter, he will lose a life. Extra lives can be gained by earning 10,000 and 30,000 points.
Scattered throughout each level are several items which can be picked up for bonuses:
The first level and, as it suggests, the tutorial level, though it gives no instructions on how to play the game. It is more like a very easy example of the rest of the game, not including enemies or other level specific gimmicks.
The first 'true' level in the game. Level features many pine trees and graphics seen throughout more traditional Sonic games. It's the first level in the game to feature enemies such as turtles that throw projectiles and balloons that try and blast you out of the sky. Destroying the bottom half offers Tails a free balloon. At the end of the level, the player will face the game's first boss, Hocke-Wulf, who is a blue wolf on a flying bike that throws bombs at Tails.
The second level in the game takes place in what looks like an old mine, later in the level the player will enter a mountainous area. Enemies for this level include skeleton-like creatures that spring up from the ground and throw their bones at the player and 'capture berries' which will clamp onto Tails' ring if he gets too close, holding him in place momentarily. The boss at the end of the level, Bearenger, will throw projectiles at Tails, three at a time.
The third level takes place in the sky, supposedly on an airship of sorts, and features fans that create strong gusts that can blow Tails into hazards or enemies. The level enemies feature bird-like robots that swoop down to attack, then retreat. At the end of the level Tails will confront the third boss, Carrotia, which is a very feminine rabbit on a flying carrot.
The last level in the game. This level features, along with an unforgiving difficulty and a surplus of traps, octopus-like robots that will hurl beach balls at you and the game's final boss, Witchcart, who will constantly cast magic sparks at Tails.
Due to its nature as a spinoff title released exclusively in Japan, Tails' Skypatrol had become one of the more obscure titles in the Sonic franchise, and would not see an official Western release until its inclusion as an unlockable game in Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut in 2003.