Sonic Advance

Video Game Review: Sonic Advance for the Game Boy Advance (2002)
By Noah Diekemper

Sonic Advance is a truly brilliant game that takes the series back to its true roots on multiple levels. Beautiful, colorful graphics paint masterful levels that you race through with an excellent physics engine to some really fantastic tunes.

The graphics for this game take on an illustrated, cartoon style that not only fits very nicely into the Sonic series, but recaptures all the vibrant, fresh colors of the original Genesis title. The animations are painstakingly detailed, with really sweet moves and many specific animations for given instances.

The level design is very classic, with layers of action, multiple routes per level, and very distinct zones; Neo Green Hill Zone features springs and slopes galore; Casino Paradise Zone features pinball paddles, bumpers, and flashing lights; Angel Island Zone has lots of floating platforms and deadly badniks.

The bosses are some of the best in the entire Sonic series – all very unique, twisted in their own clever, fiendish design, well balanced and creative. They even bring back the Green and Emerald Hill Zone Genesis bosses for the final zone (though these are only a prelude to one of the hardest Sonic bosses I’ve ever played). Below is an image of the Ice Mountain Zone, Robotnik in a device that climbs on the ceiling of an all-but-flooded cavern, where he drills down icicles which either harm you or serve as platforms to boost you up to the all-too-necessary air – or, to Robotnik’s capsule, whichever you feel is more appropriate in that second.

The physics to this game are awesome; not 100% classic, but darn close – this game brings back the user-controlled spindash speed, the rebound physics when the player destroys badniks or pops item boxes, more rapid acceleration on slopes in ball form than self-propelled running form, and soaring leaps when you jump off the end of an inclination, most of which took a hiatus from the Adventure series. In fact, the rebound physics allow the player even more control in exchange for a slight payment in skill – Sonic now features an “air shield” attack, performed by pressing the “A” button when jumping, and if pressed when landing on an enemy or item box, he will shoot back up to the altitude where he was previous to falling (if he doesn’t shield, he bounces up just a little, constant bit). This allows the player with the precious rare opportunity for extra control in a Sonic game, so they can jump back up to where they were, or not – it’s up to them.

Image:CPZ.PNG

The music is nothing sort of fantastic. With a healthy mix of original tunes and great remixes (a fun Scrap Brain Zone remix plays on the option menu screen), this game boasts one of my favorite portable soundtracks, dripping with old-school, fast-paced Sonic energy, great instrumentation, and unique melodies.

Image:Sonic Advance Zone Cosmic Angel.png

This game also introduces a Tiny Chao Garden, modeled loosely on the Adventure gardens, except it does everything the original did but better. With much cuter images (which is important for something like this), easier controls (instead of a character, you only manipulate a single, disembodied, and extremely functional white glove), and two very fun minigames, this is a really cool bonus – where you aren’t required to spend hours grinding in order to earn crucial emblems! The chao will also talk to you from time to time in a white, text-filled comic balloon; it can say some pretty funny stuff, too.

I only have two noteworthy issues with this game: one, that after collecting all seven chaos emeralds, you can’t just transform into Super Sonic by collecting fifty rings on any level (which is a shame with this level design); you can only play as him against a final, secret boss – which would be okay, if it weren’t for the fact that there’s no way to freely play as him.

Two, for as spectacular as it is, the game is neither particularly long nor difficult, even if the complex level design will have hardcore fans occupied for some time in time trials.

Image:Neo Green Hill.png

Summary: Sonic Advance is an excellent game that will remind anyone of just what it is that makes Sonic so great in the first place.

Final Score: 8.8/10

Reviewer’s Completion: Final & Extra Boss beaten; Ending achieved with 4/4 characters (multiple times); All 7 chaos emeralds collected, 9000+ rings in Tiny Chao Garden

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One Response to Sonic Advance

  1. Pingback: Comic Archive and Sonic Advance Review « Binary Hangman Comics

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