Review by JPeeples
"Time to say the pledge of agreeance."
Oh yeah baby, Sonic Advance, the game that Sonic fans had pretty much been waiting years for. Finally, a new Sonic game done the right way, the 2D way. Sure, the 3D Sonic games were decent enough, but they didn’t scratch the surface of what could be done with Sonic in the third dimension. When it comes right down to it, Sonic games need to be in 2D to make proper, full use of the character. The sensation of speed is important to a Sonic game since it’s a key aspect of the character, and a 2D gameplay area is the best way to convey it. The 3D Sonic games could convey the sense of speed well, but only in a few areas where a side viewpoint was present, and not throughout the Sonic sections of the games.
The core gameplay of Sonic Advance is much like the Sonic games of old, with a few new twists along the way. If you are looking for radical changes in gameplay, don’t look here. I mean, come on, it’s a 2D Sonic game, serious innovation went the way of the dodo with the second installment. In place of that innovation has been refinement of the core gameplay. This refinement has enabled the Sonic games to feature tighter gameplay, smoother controls, and an overall more fun experience with nearly each successive installment.
This trend has thankfully continued with Sonic Advance. Dimps, the folks who brought you Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket for the Neo-Geo Pocket Color, did a fantastic job on this game as well. They managed to retain the classic Sonic gameplay, while retooling the graphics to a point never before seen in a 2D Sonic game. They also went with very traditional (for Sonic anyway) levels, so if you loved the island stages, or snow stages, in previous Sonic games, among others, you’ll get some flashbacks via this game, which I definitely dig.
SA controls like pretty much any other 2D Sonic game. The basic attacks are still there, and the controls are just as precise as they ever were. If you’re a veteran of 2D Sonic games, you will have no trouble playing this game. If you’re not, then you’ll be able to get into the game’s controls quickly since they are quite simple. Despite the simplistic controls, you’ve still got a wide array of attacks at your disposal for each character. The sheer volume of attacks is quite astounding when you take into account the limited controls. Amazingly, the limited controls mixed with a broad amount of attacks never causes things to get convoluted. Everything just seems like second nature after a few minutes of play.
As I mentioned earlier, the graphics in SA are quite a bit more impressive than those in earlier 2D Sonics. Nearly everything has been given an overhaul graphically. The background and foreground objects now feature plenty of color to give off a better illusion of depth, which makes for a more engrossing experience at times. Sadly, the main characters now feature less detail, which provides a bit of a stark contrast to their environments. Thankfully, the animation is still fantastic, which helps to offset the odd looking characters.
The sound in the game, specifically the music, is a bit of a disappointment when compared to other 2D Sonics. The music isn’t nearly as memorable as in past Sonic games, and the sound effects aren’t exactly fantastic either. I’m sure the GBA’s crummy speakers don’t help matters out, but any way you slice it, the sound is underwhelming.
Sonic Advance’s replay value is given a slight boost by the chao raising game in it, although I’m not a huge fan of it, if you dig virtual pet stuff, or ever really did, you’ll probably get some iota of enjoyment from it. If not, you’ve got multiple characters to play through the game with, which should keep you busy for quite some time. On top of that, the game is just plain fun to play, which gives it nearly limitless replay value. If you’re looking for a quick gaming fix, just pop in the game, go to Sonic’s levels, and run amok.
In the end, if you are, or ever were, a fan of Sonic’s 2D adventures, and didn’t quite enjoy the 3D stuff as much as the 2D stuff, pick up SA immediately. The game is sure to bring back memories for you, and provide with a great game to boot. The game’s poor character graphics and sub-par sound are its only real blemishes, aside from that, it’s pure 2D Sonic goodness.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/17/03, Updated 06/17/03
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