Review by Admodieus
"A rare gem in the abundance of GBA platformers."
To compete with Nintendo's monopoly, Sega had to create a mascot. Somebody who would grab attention from gamers, and show them that Sega actually had some games to offer.Thus, Sonic the Hedgehog was born. As blue as the sky, Sonic could run at incredible speeds to defeat the evil Dr. Robotnik(Eggman) who was trying to imprison animals in robot forms. The blue hedgehog struck a goldmine for Sega; gamers who grew weary of Mario's slow scrolling turned to Sonic for some fast-paced action. Sonic had friends that were introduced later in his game series: Tails in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Knuckles in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Amy Rose in Sonic CD. Each one of these characters added depth to the character, such as close brother or girlfriend. Sonic team has finally gathered these four characters and poured them into a new side-scrolling game on the Game Boy Advance. However, after switching to 3D Sonic games, can Sonic Team still make a quality scroller that lives up to previous standards?
Sonic Advance brings back the side-scrolling gameplay made famous by the Genesis games. You'll instantly think of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 when you blaze through the first couple of levels with Sonic. However, this game allows more playable characters than any other 2D Sonic game. You'll get to choose between Sonic the Hedgehog, Miles ''Tails'' Prower, Knuckles the Echidna, and Amy Rose(also a hedgehog). Each character has a different way of getting through levels, and you'll find that you're better with some characters than with others. The levels do not change in layout with the selection of a new character, but instead you'll find shortcuts if you fly around with Tails rather than run along the ground with Sonic.
Along the way, you'll find hidden special springs in stages that, when jumped on, will transfer you to a special stage. In this special stage, you'll find that you must collect rings while on a snowboard. After collecting a certain amount of rings, you'll be awarded with a Chaos Emerald. Collect all seven Chaos Emeralds, and you'll unlock the last special zone. Speaking of zones, the game is only a little longer than Sonic the Hedgehog 3. The game has 6 zones, each with 2 acts each, and a final zone. Of course, there is the secret zone, so that's about 14 levels to actually pass, since each zone contains two acts, with the exception of the final zone and secret zone.
If you expect ported graphics from the Genesis games, think again. You'll notice a scrap of Genesis sprites, but Sonic team has redone backgrounds and the characters themselves, each complete with new animations. You'll notice the change almost instantly, and it gives the game a nice, polished look over some of the other GameBoy Advance games. When your character finishes an act, he/she will continue running and strike a pose. In any case, you'll see Knuckles' individual dreadlocks move, Tails' tails sway as he runs, and Sonic's shoes in motion rather than just a blur. It's obvious Sonic Team used the GBA's graphical power rather then recycle sprites from the 16-bit games.
Liked the sound when your character touched a ring in the Genesis games? It's been perfectly recreated in this version. You'll notice nothing different about the sounds when you hit baddies, brake a monitor, or start a spin dash. All of Dr. Eggman's inventions sound like they sound, whether it be a hammer or a spiked ball. The background music matches each zone nicely, with an aquatic theme in a water zone and a frosty tune in the Ice zone.
Even though you might beat the game very quickly with one character, you'll want to go back and use some other ones to see how they play the same levels. Also, the Chaos Emeralds make you go hunting in all the levels, particuarly if you want to unlock the last zone in the game. Also, there is a Tiny Chao garden in the game that lets you raise your Chao on the go. Then, using the GBA-GCN link cable, transfer him to the GameCube version. This is the first GBA-GCN connection, and hopefully many will follow.
Sonic Team did a great job using the GBA's graphical power to beautifully animate the sprites, and some of the animations couldn't be better. However, the game is a bit short, and you'll find yourself finding it a bit tedious beating the game with the fourth character. Also, Amy Rose is more of a slow character, since she can only hit with her Piko Piko Hammer. However, don't let little details hamper your purchase if you're an avid Sonic fan and own Sonic Adventure 2: Battle for the GameCube.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 05/08/02, Updated 05/08/02
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