June 23, 2013

Sonic Advance

After dismal sales of the Dreamcast, Sega downsized into game development and admitted defeat in the console race. Their first Sonic game for a Nintendo console was Sonic Advance for the Gameboy Advance. When this was announced it was a shock. For the previous few years, Nintendo and Sega had a big rivalry going on- but that fell at the wayside when Nintendo and Sony duked it out with their N64 and PS1 systems, respectively.

One thing I don’t like about Sonic Advance is that I feel it doesn’t adhere to the platforming golden age of the Sega Genesis. Thus, it can be said that Sonic Advance has a lot to live up to after Sonic 1, 2 and 3. I am pleased to reveal that this game doesn’t disappoint.

It’s different at first, but after 30 minutes of gameplay this game hooks you in. There are a lot of familiar things, such as save poles and plungers that will welcome veteran players in, but are also easy to learn for newer players. I was not happy that they got rid of the plunger sound from the Sega Genesis- and this console is supposed to be in 32 bits.
The fast paced action returns, and with each level the game ramps up the difficulty gradually. I would say that this game is harder than Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Robotnik’s Machinations are both amusing, creative and challenging- I started having trouble around the 6th level when the game became unforgiving with leaps of faith.

When it comes to music, the game fails to live up to expectations. I’m talking about Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 and Michael Jackson’s input on the Sonic 3 soundtrack. Don’t get me wrong- the music in this game is wonderful- but it doesn’t stack up to MJ’s work in Sonic 3. Controls are very straightforward and simple- you press one button to jump. There were some areas in the harder levels that were downright tedious and difficult to navigate- but it adds  to the charm of the series. Still- that’s no excuse for awkward design. There was a little bit of it in Sonic 3 too- it took me a while to figure out how to jump up and down on the party barrels to advance to level 5 in that game.

Sonic Advance harkens back to the classic age of Sonic platforming adventures while offering new stuff. I would like this game in my personal collection, so I’ll seek it out. Sonic Advance scores a solid 9 out of 10, and makes the list as the 47th greatest game of all time.

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