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Sonic Advance Package Art
 GENRE
  Sonic Team
 DEVELOPER
  THQ
 PUBLISHER
  1-4
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  yes
 CONNECTIVITY
  no
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Sonic Advance

Wow. To think that two years ago, had you told someone this would happen, they’d have thought you insane. It’s a sign of the changing times, I guess, though any video gamer can tell you that the world can change in two years, as is evident here.

With some things that happen, you really need to just take a step back, and take it all in. Sonic has gone to a Nintendo console with some friends. What a landmark of a day. Wow. Ok, ok, so you took it in, Sonic on a former competitor’s console, right. Is it good, though?

The answer, naturally, is yes.

visuals

When I already think I’ve seen some amazing graphics on the Game Boy Advance, this game manages to go above and beyond even those standards. The characters are, to be blunt, beautiful. Coupled with some great animations that are numerous, and you’ve got a very pretty character to base the screen around.

The backgrounds, the backgrounds! They’re grand, with the most notable ones being in Angel Island Zone, and the final Zone. They’re really pretty, and something to behold. Plus, it’s not just the backgrounds, but the foregrounds are very well done. You can be running through stone temples, or a sandy beach. Whatever your locale, you will (or should be) impressed with the textures, and the sheer detail. You can stop to gawk, or blast through it all as fast as Sonic can run.

Speaking of moving fast, it’s impressive you can whiz by so much without a drop in framerate. I didn’t see any slowdown whatsoever, which helps when you can barely recognize things that you’re passing, because they’re going by so quickly.

audio

This game just doesn’t stop impressing. Accompanied with the eye-candy is some great music. All the tunes are perfectly in sync with their environment, and are all done in the same vein of the three Genesis games. Each Zone has its own music, and in some cases, even the two acts each have different songs. Wow. They even revived a couple Eggman songs.

Then there are the sound effects, which are also good. The sound for picking up a ring sounds just like it did way back when. So does jumping, and Tails’ flying, the passing of lampposts, and a few others. Yet this isn’t all retro sound; Sega's coined a few new ones in the process.

gameplay

Since this game allows you to choose between four characters, it's a bit different depending on which character you play as.

Sonic: Sonic doesn’t have any real special talents, except running really fast. A is Jump, B is somersault. He moves faster than all the others, so choose him if you want some speed.

Tails: Tails is like Sonic, except he’s a little slower, and has two tails, using them to fly with a second tap of the A button when he’s in the air. B for him is a tail whip.

Knuckles: Here’s a strange one. Knuckles has two small spikes on either side of either hand. He can also glide. If you glide him into a wall, he can climb it, utilizing the aforementioned spikes. My biggest problem is his configuration causes him to be very slow. He may be able to run as fast as Tails, but his gliding is slow, he climbs an inch a minute, and if he hits the ground while gliding, he’ll skid for some distance, and then come to a complete stop. His punch-uppercut combo, assigned to B, isn’t much help either, in that it has the power to stop him at top speed with one tap.

Amy: Here’s a challenge: play the game as Amy. She can’t curl up into a ball like the other three, or chooses not to, so you get to swing a big pink hammer. Nope, not even jumping into people will do anything except hurt her. And since she can’t jump as a ball, you can’t curl her up into a ball on the ground to gain speed. If she could do that, I would not mind at all. It’s quite a challenge to get through the game as her, especially with a certain few Eggman machines. Overall, I’d have to say that playing as Knuckles and Amy was less entertaining than Sonic and Tails.

As you might expect, this game is a total throwback to the ones on the Genesis that appeared so many years ago. You run as fast as you can in one direction, dodging some enemies, jumping occasionally, usually going through loops and defying gravity, until you get to the end. There, you will find either an Eggman sign, or Eggman himself, with one of his inventions, trying to kill you as always. Originally, you could just hold one direction, and go through a long series of bumpers, speeding wheels, checkpoints, rings, and loops/spirals. In this game, however, sometimes that bunch of wheels and bumpers will require input from you at a certain time, plummeting you to your death if you fail (sometimes the only way to know it needs your input). It may also rocket you straight into some spikes, and if you’re really unlucky, an enemy. It seems that one or two of the levels’ design could have used a little more work.

Those things happen on a rare occasion, though, and the rest of the game is completely enjoyable. It’s not something that would deter anyone from this game under any circumstance.

Yet speaking of levels, that's my only real complaint with this game-– it’s too short. You’ll beat one character’s quest in a little over an hour. They need something like twice the levels, I think. With thirteen levels to zip through, you’re done before you know it, wanting more. And if you’ve been wondering up to this point, yes, all the characters share levels. Each have the same thirteen to go through, and they don’t undergo any changes, save the extra life containers.

About the last thing I can think of is the special stages for obtaining Chaos Emeralds. In the Zones, there are special bumpers that rocket you up into space, giving you a chance to fall back down to Earth on a surfboard (kudos to having different shaped ones for each character). It’s as close as the game gets to 3D, as you move them around a large tube. If you have enough emeralds at a certain couple of areas (a la Sonic 2), then you get one. They’ve also added some tricks you can do on the board to garner a few extra rings.

multiplayer

I wish I knew someone with this game, then I could try versus with them. You can hook up to four GBAs together, and as long as they all have the game, you can have races in the levels you’ve cleared.

But to be more specific, let’s take a look at what the instruction manual has to say. That’s what they’re there for, after all. Hmm, yes…very interesting…three options…Single Pak mode? Wahoo! Collect the rings: “Collect rings scattered around the playing field before the time runs out.” For clarification, this does take place in the levels you’ll encounter in 1-player mode, but it’s still a blast. For multi-pakers, you have Race, pretty self-explanatory, and ‘Chao Hunt’. I would’ve thought that meant there’s a Chao somewhere in the level, first to find it wins, but there’s multiple. “Search for the Chao on the map, and pick up more than the competing players in the time allotted.”

overall

It’s still weird to see SEGA’s flagship character on a Nintendo console... Regardless, the game is great, through and through, albeit short. I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of the series, new to it, or just like action games as a whole. This title is really something, and I implore you to buy it. Now. I don’t expect they’ll just sit on shelves.

final score Platform/10


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