Sonic Advance 3 (Game Boy Advance) Review

By Karn Spydar Lee Bianco 25.06.2004

Review for Sonic Advance 3 on Game Boy Advance

There is an ongoing argument concerning the superiority of 3D graphics over 2D graphics or vice versa for certain franchises. Which is discussed in detail in this article, Sonic is a prime example for the debate, as many gamers believe the 2D games have always been the greater of the two. Keeping in tie with this, Sega Team have recently released the latest addition to the Sonic Advance franchise, will it continue the trend set by its predecessors though?

A lthough the quality of the two previous Sonic Advances cannot be denied, many gamers agree that there was something missing; something that was apparent in the original MegaDrive games, but was somehow lost in the transportation to a handheld format. Sega picked up on this 'problem', and have decided to 'take Sonic back to his roots' as it were. That's not to say they have dropped the graphical quality or anything like that, quite the opposite in fact. As you will find out just moments into the main game, that this is one of the most eye pleasing Sonic titles to date.

No, what they have done is increased the size and complexity of levels to give more freedom while still being bound to a basic run fast and jump gameplay formula, that has kept the series intact for so many years. This time around the levels are split up into classic running through hoops and down hills and up ramps etc, as well as more exploration orientated sections. For example the player might find themselves coming out of a huge jump at super-sonic speed, only to find themselves confined in a small area with springs and enemies all around. Rather than running through and more likely than not, getting yourself killed, it will be more suitable to slow down at some points and work your way through until you get yourself to the next stretch for sprinting. This can be irritating at times, for example not stopping in time and running into an enemy you had no chance of seeing in time only to loose all your hard earned rings and come to a complete standstill.

Screenshot for Sonic Advance 3 on Game Boy Advance

Having said that, it's not all retro feelings, there are some brand new features throughout the game that help things stay fresh while keeping that classic feeling at the same time, if that makes sense? This mainly comes in the form of a new multi-character system, similar to that of Sonic 2 on the MegaDrive, where Tail aimlessly followed Sonic through the levels, but could be controlled if a second player plugged a controller into port two. This time round things have become a lot more interesting though, for a start it's not just Tails that can play as a supporting character, nor does Sonic even have to be the main one. There are five characters to choose from, although not all will be available to begin with, and will have to be unlocked as you progress through the main adventure. As well as Sonic and Tails, Knuckles, Amy and Cream feature as playable personalities, all of whom can be combined with any of the others to open up a host of new playing possibilities. For example depending on whom you choose play as will affect things like how long you stay airborne when jumping, as well as various attacks and trick moves. All together there are 20 possible pair combinations, which as you can imagine leads to a lot of different ways to play through each level, and thus increasing the replay value significantly.

Screenshot for Sonic Advance 3 on Game Boy Advance

Another interesting twist to the usual gameplay is the inclusion of a game 'hub'. Similar to that featured in Sonic Adventure DX on the GameCube, it is where you go to access the various levels within each Zone. So for example there is the main hub, which has 7 'portals' to the various Zones, from which there is access to the specific zones, as well as things like Boss and Bonus levels, some of which may require individual unlocking. It's a simple yet effective system that comes in handy if you want to try previous levels with newly-unlocked character combinations for example. Compared to previous outings, Sonic Advance 3 is relatively easy, getting through the main adventure, will only take most gamers a few hours. For a real challenge though, try getting all the Chaos emeralds from each of the different Zones. To do this, you need to unlock all seven bonus levels, done by finding ten Chao per Zone, and THEN complete the task that lies within... The reward for doing this is just a couple of little things, such as gaining access to Super Sonic for a short time, as well as slightly different end boss/cut scene.

Screenshot for Sonic Advance 3 on Game Boy Advance

Just like in the two previous Sonic Advances, there are a variety of modes to sink your teeth into. Time attack makes a welcome return, and then there are some lovely new multiplayer options. The most interesting of which is co-operative mode, which enables a friend to take control of the second character that would normally be controlled by the computer. This mode does require each player to have there own copy of the game though, if that isn't possible though there are a couple of fun mini-games available for single-pak link-up. As mentioned earlier Sonic Advance 3 is an absolutely beautiful game, every character has there own animations, and with all the various combinations between characters there really are a LOT of them. Sonic fans will love checking the varied looking moves available to each character, and it won't take long to find the perfect pair for you, as was the way with Mario Kart: Double Dash!! Although overall the sound is not the greatest in the world, there are some very catchy tunes throughout. None of them quite live up to the originals themes from the MegaDrive days, but there are some very valid attempts.

Screenshot for Sonic Advance 3 on Game Boy Advance

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

All round just a very polished game. There is everything here die hard Sonic fans wanted, classic gameplay as well as brand new features to keep things fun and lively. Graphics are superb, and replay value is up there with the originals. There really isn't any need for a Sonic Advance 4 now, Sega have pretty much got everything covered!


Sonic Team




2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Q2 2004   North America release date Q2 2004   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Q2 2004   


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