Review by Aganar

"Disappointing, but a good game nonetheless"

As you will first notice when turning on the game, you are playing Sega on a Nintendo system. Wow! And not just any Sega game like Chu Chu Rocket, but Sega's own MASCOT, Sonic! No matter how old news this is and now how many Sega games are on Nintendo systems, this is still incredibly shocking. I mean, wow! It's so strange seeing the sonic I know from the 16 bit era where Nintendo and Sega were bitter rivals, appearing on a Nintendo system. As such, this is the first new 2d Sonic game since Sonic and Knuckles. Obviously it generated alot of hype, and many were claiming it to be the greatest Sonic Game ever. But does it live up to the expectations?

Well, the graphics certainly do. There's no denying that. Sonic looks better than ever being back in his old 2d form. He and his buddies look like they did on the Genesis, only slightly smaller since it is on the GBA screen. The backgrounds are very large and detailed, even on the GBA screen. While small the game is still very vibrant and colorful in its levels, which is nice. And, old Sonic fans will be happy to see the old bonus rounds still in effect. However, since they are using Nintendo technology, instead of looking pixilated, they are very smoothe and large through the magic of Mode 7.

The story is pretty much your basic Sonic story line. Dr. Eggman (or Robotnic for some people) hatches another plot, captures a bunch of animals, tries to take over the world, blah blah blah. Sonic and his buddies must travel through the levels to stop him. His buddies include himself, his old partner Tails, his other buddy Knuckles, and his girlfriend Amy. You can choose what character you want to play through the game as, and different characters have different endings. Of course, there is no real difference except the handrawn picture of them at the end.

The gameplay is, unfortunately, not as good as some of the other Sonic games. Yes, all the types of levels are still there. There is still a casino, a water level, and all the other ones we know and love. And it is still the same basic gameplay. Jump on the enemies, beat up the boss, free the animals, go through some bonus levels, spin really fast to break through some stuff, etc. You know how it is.

One of the new innovations is the character ability aspect. Sure in the old ones the characters were unique, but they didn't have real special abilities. Now in the new ones, they do. Sonic controls exactly like he did in the others, complete with the Sonic and Knuckles split second shield. Tails controls like he did in the others, for those who played with him, and yes, he can still fly. Knuckles received a noticeable upgrade from his old self. He can still glide, climb walls, and those other things. But, he now is more of a fighter. He has a punching uppercut combo which he can do, making him better to fight bosses, and he is more well rounded. Finally, there is Amy, who while not too useful, has a hammer. This allows her to do some special moves which can eliminate bosses quickly.

So, this sounds pretty sweet doesn't it? I mean, its faithful to the old series, it has a good mix of old style levels and new ones, and even has a new character. It should sound great, shouldn't it? Well, theoretically it does. But it comes with the problem that its alot like Sonic 1. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 remains my favorite of all Sonic games for the simple fact that it is the most pure fun of them. You're simply speeding through the levels as fast as you can, getting all the rings, etc. But, like Sonic 1, that rarely happens. There are now many more puzzles you have to do. There are more obstacles, so you never really get the chance to do that. I suppose they had to do it so they could make a point for characters like Knuckles or Amy, but if they had not rushed the game I'm sure they could've found a way around it. The game just feels lacking in that area, and comes across very boring at times.

Sound and Music are as good as they always were. The sound has well-done, but cartoony bonks and whacks. The music has fitting tunes. While that's not saying much, I'm still trying to get over the rap music from Sonic Adventure 2. Oy!

Replay Value is really a mixed bag. On the one hand, there are 4 different characters for you to play the game with. Unfortunately, to get the final ending, you HAVE to play through it with all four. I didn't mind it the first couple of times. Tails was easy as hell since he can fly, and I actually enjoyed playing through it with Knuckles. It was fun instead of trying to speed through the levels just gliding gracefully, then beating the crap out of everything. However, there was one flaw. I also had to play through it with Amy. Let me inform you now, by the time you finish Amy's portion you will be begging to just let you die. She is so annoying! She is slow, can not jump worth of crap, and most of the time fighting bosses is a pain in the ass. Since she has such pathetic reach, while she can do some serious damage if she actually gets within range, she never is! And half the time she's over in some frickin pipe drowning while I'm trying to get her to the surface!

But that's not all. To see the final ending, you must also collect all 7 chaos emeralds. And I got them in Sonic 2, they were not NEARLY this hard. Getting all 7 is a living hell. In some of the later levels you can miss almost no more than 2 rings and still get the emerald! But, I endured. I wanted my ending and my secret Super Sonic stage. I played through the game with all four characters, and I got all the emeralds. Finally, I got to the final boss. ''Super Sonic!'' I shouted happily. I then proceeded to play one of the most boring and disappointing fights of my life. It is not like the other games, where he controls like Sonic but with god-like powers. No, he's stuck infinitely flying, and facing some stupid Eggman robot. It's like they took the awesome Sonic Adventure 2 last battle and just put it in 2d. But the problem is, it SUCKS in 2d! And the ending SUCKED! But not only that, but thats the ONLY level you can play as Super Sonic!

However, there is one replay attraction. Chao raising. Based on the VMU game, you can raise your chaos on your Gameboy Advance. This is quite fun. You can give him different fruits to effect his stats, but you can also buy him different things, including a TV! You can also play minigames with him to earn money. And, after you think you've raised him enough, you can transfer him to your Sonic Adventure 2 GC memory card where he can be raised further on there! This was the first game to utilize the GBA/GC link cable, and it was a pretty good attempt.

Overall, this game was very disappointing. If disappointment was a justifiable reason to give a game a low score, I'd give this a 5. But, it is still a good game. Unfortunately, it suffers from being a bit slow (hey, this is a SONIC game we're talking about), and after you've unlocked everything you feel robbed. The ending was just horrible, even by Sonic game standards. Had they fixed a few things, like making the levels a bit faster, allowing for some other extras, and getting rid of Amy, this really could have been the best Sonic game ever. But, Sonic 2, 3, and Adventure 2 are still far better. Perhaps the next Advance will improve upon these.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 02/09/03, Updated 02/09/03

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