Sonic Advance 3 is the last outing for the Gameboy Advance, with Sonic Rush due out for the Nintendo DS at the end of this year. We thought we'd take a look at how the last Sonic title was on the Gameboy Advance, before we looked forward to Sonic Rush.So, how is Sonic Advance 3? More of the same, or the best Sonic 2D title in a long time?
Sonic was the flagship character for Sega in the 90's and was arguably the reason that Sega were actually around for so long, it is ironic that in the last few years, after the Dreamcast's failure, the Sonic franchise itself has started to dwindle a little, with the Gameboy Advance Sonic Advance titles being the only real titles that other a glimpse of how good the Sonic franchise really was. The actual gimmick of Sonic appearing in a Nintendo title is gone now, so the game really has to rely on it's own merits.
Sonic Advance 3 doesn't really bring anything new to the series. The five characters from Sonic Advance 2 have all made the transition to the game. These five characters include Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Cream and Amy. The game allows players to pair up any of these two characters, resulting in different combinations everytime, as every character has different moves.
The story is definitely a weak aspect of the game, in fact the story itself is completely recycled. The objective is to collect all the emeralds, scattered throughout the levels and defeat Dr. Eggman at the end of the game. The storyline is a complete repeat of what we're used to, Sega could have at least come up with something just a little different,
To make it seem like gamers haven't just been gutted of $70, Sega have included a few new obstacles, which are littered through the game. Some of the new barriers include catapults, balloons and see-saws. None of these barriers are particularly thrilling, and none of them are likely to be something you remember after turning the game off. These obstacles just feel like tacked on gimmicks, rather than gameplay enhancements.
The level variation is fairly decent, with a broad range of levels which offer a substantial amount of variety. Some of the levels are better than the others, with the first Route 99 zone being our least favourite funnily enough.
It's hard to rate the gameplay of Sonic these days because it is a winning formula that Sega seem intent on repeating, even after almost fifteen years. The biggest restriction of Sonic Advance 3 is the linear game play. The objective is always to get from point A to point B. Whilst the player is able to navigate to where they are going, if they ever get stuck it is simply a matter of moving right.
However, the sense of speed is brilliant, and something that is essential in a Sonic game. At times you are going so fast that it is possible to actually miss half of the level, and the next time you're playing through the level is unrecognisable. The levels in the game are improved, and are longer, so whilst speeding through a level in a fast blue ball is possible, it definitely takes a lot longer than in the previous two titles.
The department where Sonic Advance 3 really shines is with the graphics. The game is just as fast as its predecessors, and the worlds are much more vibrant, looking really great. All the characters are easily recognisable, and the worlds are fairly vast (albeit a little linear).
Sonic Advance 3 should last the average gamer a decent amount of time. There are a few unlockables, and there is always the challenge of completing the game with the different character combinations, but in reality it is very unlikely that most people will bother playing the game through more than once. The game is not too much of a challenge either, so Sonic fans will be able to blast through this game really quickly.
The sound in the game is nothing different to what we're used to, this is a shame as the music is instantly familiar, upon just booting the game up. Thankfully the music is tolerable, otherwise we'd definitely be muting the game.
There is a decent amount of lifespan in the game to keep most people entertained for a while. The levels are all fairly long, and aside from the single player mode there is a multiplayer battle mode and a time attack mode. Whilst these modes are nowhere near as exciting as the main game, they can offer a small distraction.
We can't help but feel a little disappointed by Sonic Advance 3. There's nothing really wrong with the game, it's just feeling like Sega are treating this game like an EA update, with a few roster changes and minor enhancements. This feels more like Sonic 2.5 than a full fledged sequel.
Fans of Sonic will be lapping this game up, as it is the last Sonic game that will appear on the Gameboy Advance. We're hoping that the upcoming Sonic Rush will be a better game, as the series is seriously in need of something new, or 2D Sonic games will become a stale franchise, rather than the reason to own a Gameboy Advance.
This review is brought to you courtesy of Infinite Gameplay, with unlimited game rentals starting from $19.95 a month.