Sonic in 3D never really managed to give the impact of his 2D roots. So it isn't really surprising Sonic Team decided to revert back, in his debut on a Nintendo system and the first 2D sonic game for some time, we give you Sonic Advance.
At the start of the game you see an animation of Dr Robotnik (Eggman) grabbing a Chaos Emerald, which would suggest the same old storyline as the originals on Mega Drive and co. Sonic, (and this time 3 friends) must rush around some well - designed levels VERY quickly, in order to collect al the chaos emeralds and thwart Eggman's plan to take over the world. So what's new? We've got Sonic Mega collection to play the old games. Ah but wait, Sonic Advance is a new game, it just uses the old formula while adding in some new interesting features to spice things up a bit. It's very easy to get straight into the action with Sonic Advance, but lets take a look at the various options before we do, ok? Well option one is of course the single player game, the main focus of any sonic game, we'll go into more detail later. Or there is an excellent multi - player game, your prompted to enter your name, then you can choose whether you want to play with one cart or multiple, if you only use the one, but four GBA's (the money friendly version), your multiplayer options are more limited than if you all have your own pack, however few people can afford to have three friends willing to buy all that for a quick game of sonic. Then there's a classic Time Trial mode to blast through. Only the levels already unlocked are available, your times are recorded and can be viewed at any time. The second biggest feature is the Tiny Chao garden; again we'll have more on that later.
Alright, let's check out the Single Player game first. You can choose between four characters; Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy. All of whom of course have there own distinct abilities. Sonic has no special movement abilities, so is considered by many players to be somewhat 'simple'. Don't let that put you off though; Sonic plays much faster than the other three characters because he has no other moves to distract him. So pick Sonic if you consider yourself a bit of a speed demon. Tails' Propeller Flying and Swimming skills just plain rock. The ability to fly over large spaces or swim up for air when you're drowning is highly convenient to say the least. Tails is very balanced throughout all levels, and is very good at disposing of bosses, he is also the best character for accessing the seven Special Springs (that lead to the special stages, and in turn the Chaos Emeralds themselves). Pick Tails if you want the greatest control over your character. Kncukles' Dash Guide and Climbing abilities are two incredibly useful skills. When playing as Knuckles you will probably find yourself gliding more than running. It really is that good. The climbing ability is slightly more limited, due to that fact that you need a surface to use it on. Pick Knuckles for a cross between Sonic's speed and Tails' control. Amy is the hardest character to play as. Her lack of movement combined with her inability to into Ball Mode make her the odd 'man' out. Her Piko Piko hammer makes her very good at certain boss battles though. Only pick Amy if you have mastered the other three characters, not one for beginners.
Other than the character differences, what separates Sonic games from the likes of Mario are things like the collectable items for one. In Sonic Advance many items make a return like; Barrier - this enables the player to take one hit without loosing any rings. Magnetic Barrier - this has the same power as the normal Barrier, but it also works as a magnet that attracts rings. Invincibility - Does exactly what you would think, however it runs out after a while, and you can still die by falling down into a void. Speed Boots - these make the character EVEN faster, twice as fast in fact, for a total of 20 seconds. Then there is the classic Ring boxes, theses award a certain number of rings to the player, depending on which one you collect. Unlike most games, the health system in Sonic games is somewhat different. Instead of a health bar or a certain number of hearts or something like that, it all depends on your rings. You only need one ring to stay alive, every time you're attacked by an enemy you loose all your rings, making you vulnerable to die. An extra life is awarded, if you manage to collect a hundred rings without taking any damage. There is a wide variety of enemies scattered throughout the 6 zones, over 20 in fact. These range from projectile - shooting Kerokero crabs to charging Rhino Tanks to bomb dropping Pierrot bats.
As for the graphics, they are quite sublime. Although playing like an old-skool Sonic game, the graphics are one of the most noticeable differences. With a full GBA overhaul Sonic never looked so good. Animation is exquisitely executed, Sonic's running, Tails' Flying and Knuckles gliding look wonderful. Some great backgrounds and the variety of scenery gives all the levels a look of familiarity without getting repetitive or boring, quite an achievement, but we would expect nothing less from Sonic Team. So basically the graphics are DAM good.
There are also plenty of secrets to uncover throughout the game. Firstly (although not a secret), there is actually a seventh zone, this is called X - Zone. It is the location of your final showdown with Eggman. The level comprises of a series of three boss battles. Once there done that's the end of the game. So what about these Special Springs? Well the Special Springs are the only REAL secrets in Sonic Advance. There are seven of them, all on different stages, they are usually very well hidden too. When you find, and jump on one you will be warped to a Special Stage. To collect a Chaos Emerald you must collect a certain amount of rings in the allotted time. There are all sorts of nasty things to try and stop you, as well as things to help you, like the trick manoeuvre (B button) and glowing barriers that issue large amounts of rings. If you see a Tiny Chao icon, grab it. They are worth 1 continue. Another Secret is the Sonic 2 mode, this little trick is a throwback to the early days of Sonic The Hedgehog 2 on Megadrive, where Sonic is followed by Tails. To enter this mode, do the following: On the character select screen highlight Sonic and press UP once. Next highlight Tails and press Down once. Highlight Amy and press R once. Now go back to Sonic and select him with A, you'll hear the "Ring!" noise, meaning you've activated the code. Now one final secret is that there are actually multiple endings to the game. The default ending can be viewed by completing the game with any of the four characters. The extended ending however requires a little more work. After completing the game with all four characters and earning all seven Chaos Emeralds, complete the game once more using Sonic. Once you do you'll change into Super Sonic and have to fight one last boss, the Super Egg Machine, beat that and then you get to see the extended ending.
Now, despite its name the second biggest feature of the game is the Tiny Chao Garden. Those of you who have ever played Sonic Adventure 2 Battle will know about the cute little Chao creatures you can raise as pets of sorts, feeding them animals to boost their stats and training them up to compete in races and other games. Well if you have the GameCube game and a GC-GBA link cable, you can transfer your Chao from Sonic Adventure 2 Battle to Sonic Advance, and raise them on the go. This is a really cool little feature for those that enjoy this side of the game in SA2B. Those that have played it will know that it can take a long while to raise them into super Chao that can beat everyone, so having the option to take them anywhere in Sonic Advance to train them when you're away from your console is a neat bonus.
Sonic Advance is a brilliant first step onto the Game Boy Advance for the spiky blue blur, and retains much of what made the Mega Drive originals so great. For fans of Sonic and newcomers alike, this is definitely one to pick up if you own a GBA.
Immaculate Sonic gaming at it's best, next to the graphics this is what made Sonic the world-wide super star he is today.
Very nice update to the old Sonic games, making it look modern enough to fit in with other new titles, while at the same time remaining true to its 16-bit roots.
Some brand spanking new tunes that fit in perfectly with Sonic's cool attitude, mixed in with the old classic sound effects.
A great big Single player game, with four players to complete it with, multiple endings secrets galore, multiplayer and raising baby Chao. What more can we say?
A wonderful asset to you GBA library. Sonic fans everywhere rejoiced when this game was release, Mario fans fainted. Sonic's debut on a Nintendo system couldn't have hoped for much more, if you like Sonic you'll like this, if you don't you wont.