Review by Puttinsky
The Sonic the Hedgehog series is not one I'm the most familiar with. However, I have the general idea of what Sonic's games have always been about - speed. Dash panels, spiraling loops, and non-stop kick-butt action is what it's all about. When the generation of 3-D games came along, Sonic was forced to take the transition as well, leaving his 2-D roots behind. Luckily, with handheld games, this is possible once again. Sonic Advance is the first 2-D Sonic game we've seen in a long time. It looks like the Genesis titles, plays like the Genesis titles, and feels similar to the Genesis titles. But enough comparison, on with the coverage!
Here's the story. Seriously, try a new plan for once, Egghead. Like the Genesis games, Dr. Eggman (a.k.a. Robotnik, which sounds much cooler) has once again stolen all 7 Chaos emeralds in an attempt to rule the world. You know what this means, don't you? That's right. Sonic immediately reacts by bringing 3 of his friends, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy (making her 2-D debut) to stop Eggman's evil (and redundant) plan!
Sonic Advance is your typical 2-D platform game, except one heck of a lot faster-paced. You have your choice of playing as one of 4 different characters. Each character has their own individual advantages. First, of course, is Sonic. Sonic is about the 3rd-best character to play as. His jumping and attacking power is about average, but he's the fastest of all the characters. Many times, you'll be going so fast you won't even see enemies until you actually hit them!
Next is Tails. Tails is probably the best character of all, with more unique abilities than anybody else. First of all, he can fly for a good period of time. This helps you overcome obstacles, completely skip difficult parts, and access higher areas that the other characters normally wouldn't be able to reach! His regular jump is pretty high, too. In addition to flying, Tails is the only character who can actually swim! While Tails can penetrate through all different depths and access air easily, the other characters have to walk at a snail's pace underwater before their air supply runs out!
Then comes Knuckles. He's about the second-best character. First of all, his fists wipe out enemies pretty easily. Also, he can glide over large gaps. This can help you get to the opposite side of a chasm faster and avoid certain hazards. He descends slowly, though, so don't think you can glide through the whole stage. Knuckles can also climb walls. This is especially convenient if you fall down, as you can simply climb right back up a nearby wall. This technique is also used to reach higher places.
Lastly is Amy. Amy is by far the weakest and most difficult-to-master character there is. First of all, she moves at a snail's pace. Also, her only source of offense is from her Piko Piko hammer. This deals minimal damage to enemies and is hard to maneuver correctly. At least she jumps pretty well. The one advantage she does have is a special move with her Piko Piko hammer. If she smashes it to the ground, it will propel her high into the air, which is useful for either reaching high places or hitting airborne enemies.
There are 6 main ''zones'' in the game, with 2 levels (called ''Acts'') each, giving the game only 12 levels. These include Neo Green Hill Zone, Secret Base Zone, Casino Paradise Zone, Ice Mountain Zone, Angel Island Zone, and Egg Rocket/Cosmic Angel Zone. At the end of the second act in each zone, you'll face a boss. This boss features Dr. Eggman in one of his machines. Once you defeat him, you must touch the capsule he leaves behind to complete the zone.
No matter where you are, chances are you'll find rings everywhere. Rings are basically your health in this game. But as long as you have 1 or more rings with you, you can take a hit without dying. If you get hit, you'll lose all the rings you have, and up to 20 will go flying away from you. You can get some of them back if you're quick. But if you get hit with no rings, you die. Plain and simple.
Of course, with the game's sheer speed, there is a severe backdraw you'll encounter. You see, there are several points in each stage where spikes will emerge from the floor. The thing is, unless you've played through the levels a dozen times before, you won't know what to expect. You could be running, and all yof a sudden, spikes rise from beneath you, causing in a cheap maneuver on the computer's part. Perhaps because the game's so easy, the developers had to resort to these cheap tactics to harm your character beyond your control. Chances are you won't die, but it's an extreme annoyance.
There are also 7 ''special stages'' you must complete to win the Chaos emeralds. Basically, your character is on a snowboard hovering through a neon tube. Sounds fun, right? That's where you'd be wrong, my friend. These are an absolute pain in the ass. You must collect a certain amount of rings before the end without hitting any of the bombs. You have to go through each special stage about 50 times before you memorize where you're supposed to go, and another 50 times just to beat it. And that's for just the early ones. It's even worse later. The game's primary major downfall.
Chao are like virtual pets. Once you hatch them from their eggs, you raise them by feeding them fruits and nurturing them constantly. You can achieve animal playmates and chaos drives for them by finding them in the action stages by destroying enemies, etc. Depending on how you treat them and who you treat them with, they will become good or bad. You can also transfer Chao onto this game's Chao garden by connecting your GBA to your GCN with the proper cable. From there, you can transfer Chao, fruits, and toys to and from your Sonic Adventure 2 Battle or Sonic Adventure DX game.
The graphics in this game are pretty crisp for a GBA game. It about parallels its Genesis counterparts, so you can envision it from there. There are countless sprites used for each character in this game, so there's no reason to be complaining here, with the exception of some slight blurriness when you're going breakneck speed.
The music in this game is catchy, upbeat, and forgettable to some extent. My favorite themes are Ice Mountain Act 2 and Angel Island Act 1. Most of the music is pretty fast-paced, like the game. The characters don't talk at all, which can be good or bad depending on how you look at it. It's your typical 2-D Sonic style.
With only 4 characters and 6 easy-to-complete zones, Sonic Advance is one of the easiest games you'll ever play. You can easily breeze through each character's stages in 1 to 2 hours each. The only character who may even give you slight troubles would be Amy. Thus, it doesn't last too long, and chances are you won't want to play through those dang special stages again, but at least it's fun while it does last.
Sonic Advance in an above average GBA game, but nothing more. If you're an old-school Sonic fan, you'll feel right at home with this baby. It contains all the main elements that held true in the Genesis days. Just don't be expecting a ''Sonic and Knuckles'' quality game. ompared to the other games in the Sonic Advance series, this particular version isn't nearly as good as Sonic Advance 3, but it's one heck of a lot better than Sonic Advance 2.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 09/05/06
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