Review by tfobf

"Sonic is here! GBA Game of 2001? It just might be..."

It's finally here! One of the most anticipated games for the GBA has finally arrived and is sitting in my hands. Sonic and Nintendo together at last, and who would have thought? Now all we need is Squaresoft... hmmm.

But anyway on with the review.
Let me say from the outset and quell your fears that THIS GAME ROCKS! It's everything I had hoped for and much much much more. I'll try to cover everything in point form rather than the usual ''graphics -> sound -> controls -> gameplay'' kind of review which is freaking boring. And yes this is an ENTIRELY NEW GAME, it is NOT A PORT. Everything is new.

On with the show..

* Storyline*
The story is the same as normal, Dr Robotnik (It says Dr Eggman but its the same guy) has swiped the Chaos Emeralds again and you've got to defeat him and get the emeralds back while saving all the little bunnys and birds who have been enslaved as robots by the Evil Doctor.

* Importing *
Right from the beginning as you turn your GBA on you can select English or Japanese. If you select English the ENTIRE game is in English, so if you're itching to import, go ahead! The only one small portion of Japanese text I saw was in the little intro as each act is starting, there's a tiny little Japanese word in the corner, which I assume just says ''Act 2'' or whatever. Also incase you don't already know, Japanese games play in USA GBA's just fine. There is no region protection.

* Characters *
This time around you can play as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and the new chick from Sonic Adventure; Amy Rose.
Each character has their own special thing, like Tails flying, Amy has her big hammer, and so on. You choose your character at the beginning and you're stuck with them for the entire game.

* Gameplay *
OLD SCHOOL'S BACK BABY! Sonic Advance is a picture perfect trip back to the old school 2D days of Sonics former glory. All the bumpers, loops, rings, powerups etc are back again. All the Acts are built for SPEED and it's amazing how smoothly the GBA sends Sonic flying around the stages. I've gone at near warp speed and noticed NO SLOWDOWN whatsoever. It's just pure non stop 100% fun. You just won't want to stop playing.

* Level Design *
From the moment I turned on this game I was eager to write a review to let everyone know how good it is, and so as such i'm only up to act 4 so far (There is 2 levels per act). The themes were 1) Your normal grass and flowers type of Act, Bees, Spikes, Loops etc, 2) A ''Special Agent'' act, kind of a James Bond theme with cool music, spotlights, lots of those ''Flying Fox'' type cables to slide down at high speed and so on, 3) Casino Act, My favorite so far. You're in a pinball machine with bumpers, flippers, pipes, chutes tunnels gutters and lots and lots of high speed bouncing around. 4) Ice act. Lots of ice, snow, icebergs, and the bottom of the levels are filled with water so you have to do the thing where you breathe air from the bubbles.

All the levels are your true sonic style, often you're flying along at a hundred miles an hour not knowing where you're headed only to bounce off a bumper, speed through 3 loops, fly through the air, collect 20 rings and pass a checkpoint all in 4 seconds. It's great. Pure fun.

The Levels are also filled with secret areas, while it's always possible (and fun) to rocket through every level, you'll definitely want to come back and explore the dozens of secrets that hide throughout every single Act. This adds to the replay value immensely.

* Chao Garden *
On the menu select screen at the bottom there is an option ''Tiny Chao Garden''. When you select this you're taken to a little nursery where there's an egg. After a few moments the egg hatches and a baby Chao pops out. It's yours! You get to take care of it and look after it tamagotchi style. In order to feed it you have to play some cool minigames and win rings so you can buy it food and other stuff. It also talks to you in english via a little speech bubble above it's head. For example I was waving my little ''hand'' cursor around and it said ''Hey what's the matter? Settle down!''. I don't know what the purpose of having the pet Chao is in the game, but it's a cool addition. Maybe you can link up and trade Chao when sonic comes on Gamecube? Or maybe you can swap Chao with your friends and breed them? Who knows. I'm sure i'll probably end up playing with this feature just as much as the actual game.

* Vs Play *
Yes there is Vs Play, if you link up with a friend who also has the game you can race to see who gets the fastest time. Nobody else I know has the game so I can't test it yet.

* Sound/Graphics/Controls *
If you've played any of the Sonic's on Genesis you'll find everything the same as before. The controls are simple and intuitive, the sound is great, with many of the original sonic sounds being used again (like the music when you're running out of air, or when you get the invincibility powerup). The graphics are superb, ''no expense spared'' I think is a good phrase to use here because that's exactly how it is. The Sonic Team have done an awesome job and every pixel is lovingly recreated in handheld form. If you put the Genesis and GBA versions side by side you'd be hard pressed to spot the difference.

* Overall *
This is without a doubt one of the best if not THE best GBA game of 2001 folks. It's just scraped in at the end of the year but even though it's last it's certainly not least. This is a home console quality game packed into a handheld size that you can take anywhere anytime. And it's Sonic the Hedgehog! Need I say any more? Go and buy/import/rent/beg/borrow this game right now!!

10/10


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/18/01, Updated 12/18/01


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