Sometimes things just work, then they work for a second time. When it comes to your third installment it all gets a little tricky and in the end you’re just as likely end your series on a sour note as define it with a classic. So for Dimps and Sonic Team, what would Sonic Advance 3 mean?
They say all great things come in threes. The Back To The Future Trilogy. Those three flavours of Cornetto you can get. And for the GBA, the Sonic Advance series falls into this group. After a strong first showing and a respectable second outing, it’s the grand finale that rounds this trilogy off. Luckily for the fans, this was a game that was fun and fast and a great conclusion for Sonic’s platform adventures on the GBA.
The story in this game ties in with some of the previous games, giving it a nice bit of continuity. If you remember Emerl from Sonic Battle, then prepare to meet Eggman’s latest creation based on him – Gemerl. That, coupled with the control of the Master Emerald, leads Eggman on another rampage that – once again – Sonic and his friends have to stop. Seriously, they should set up an invoice system. Choosing from Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy or Cream, they have to stop Gemerl and Eggman before something bad happens. Again.
This time, you’ll need more than one person to stop the Eggman. Taking a leaf out of Sonic Heroes’ book, this game focuses on a buddy system rather than playing with one character. A leader and sidekick are chosen (though only Sonic and Tails are available initially), with the leader being the playable person and the sidekick offering support. Each character has their own move set, and can develop new skills by being paired with different characters. For example, having Amy as a sidekick sacrifices an air spin attack for a Piko Piko hammer and better jump height. This offers more strategy and allows players to choose the combo that best suits them. Personally; I always went with Tails and Amy (as everything is better with hammers). Regardless of the combos, the characters all have tight controls that we know from the series. Despite a little bit of skidding, there’s very little to get annoyed about, control wise. The Special Stages also have a better control scheme, making it easier to get through those last challenges.
The graphics are mostly unchanged since Sonic Advance, but they do keep the usual glossy backgrounds and vibrant scenery. The characters have a bit of extra polish and frames of animation, improving it a little. Nothing spectacularly new to see, but it is nice to keep it at the usual high quality. There are some lovely little graphical touches within the game too. For example, pair up Sonic and Amy – you can see that Amy’s idle animation is completely different here than with other pairings.
In regards to content, it is certainly longer than that of Sonic Advance. With 7 zones of 3 acts each, one boss act and two mini-game challenges per zone, there’s a lot to do and is certainly longer than the 14 acts within Sonic Advance. The sad thing is that this game lacks the Tiny Chao Garden, so your rings won’t count towards anything this time. Though it doesn’t mean that they’re not in the game. Oh no. Instead, they’re part of what may be one of the most devious ways to get Chaos Emeralds in the series. Here, you need to do the following:
1. Find 10 hidden Chao within the 3 stages per Zone (meaning 70 Chao to find, usually in hidden away areas that only Tails or Knuckles can get at)
2. Once all 10 are found in a Zone, Special Keys are unlocked
3. Grab a key in a level and survive to the goal to claim 1 Key
4. Each Key = 1 go at a Special Stage
5. Fly the X-Tornado to collect rings in your special stage. As per Sonic Advance, you need to pass 2 checkpoints to claim an emerald.
6. Rinse and Repeat for all Zones
See – told you it was devious.
This game, however, will be remembered for fans of the great Doctor Eggman as the last hurrah for Deem Bristow, who died shortly after the game’s release and before the official changing of the guard to the 4Kids VAs. It was also the last outing for the other classic voices (well, when they weren’t changed every other game – Tails, I’m looking at you…), making it a little bittersweet if you’re still a fan of them. However, time moves on, and it is great to have a legacy that ends with such a tight and fun game. It is a bit harder than previous games, but the use of the pair system and more levels add to its variety. Although it could never live up to the classics, it was a great game and by far my favourite Sonic game on the system.
|GRAPHICS||Nothing spectacularly new, but certainly not worse than before.|
|MUSIC||Better music in this game and nice little voice excerpts, though they can grate.|
|CONTROLS||Business as usual in the main stages; but tighter controls in the Special Stages means it’s a lot easier to play|
|REPLAY VALUE||A long and challenging game and those Emeralds will be the bane of your life once more. But once over, not much to pull you back aside from the optional medals.|
|OVERALL||The last huzzah for classic Sonic on the GBA, and a great game overall.|
|SW’S CRAZED FANBOY SCORE||“What’s this? Once is bad enough but three times! Three wonderous 2D adventures utterly ruined by those traitorous vermin at Sonic Team. Tarnihsing them on this Nintendo FILTH. Three Sonic games ruined. I tell you if they ever do it again it’ll be the end of the franchise!!1!”|