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Let's talk about the Sonic Advance trilogy

#1 User is offline Laughingcow 

Posted 29 September 2018 - 06:48 PM

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Took the liberty of replaying the entirety of the Advance series yesterday and I gotta say, fuck Sonic Advance 3.

Sonic Advance was a good game. Forgettable but it gets the job done as a Sonic game on the go. The physics are fine (not genesis perfect but close enough). The extra attack button seems to exist purely to facilitate Amy cause I never had to use it at all playing through as Sonic. The implementation of special stages as a single spring in each zone was nice but the lack of an in zone Super Sonic is a glaring drawback. The levels are all forgettable except for Egg Rocket zone which is a case of Love/Hate for me. The concept is spot on but the existence of outside areas over large deathpits doesn't work in a level where you are racing upward against a clock. I want to hurry and not die but if I do, I'll find myself launched outside by some random spring/speedbooster. As far as multiple characters are concerned, there isn't a point beyond padding the game (All emeralds collected + beating game with all characters in order to unlock Moon Zone). Tails and Knuckles could help you search for the Special Stage spring, that's it.
Lastly, there is Amy....I get they were just making her consistent with her Adventure moveset but couldn't she just spin horizontally with the hammer as her jump? I mean, Espio did that back in Chaotix. Likewise, the "Giant step" doesn't produce enough momentum and can't be used in small spaces making it just suck. Her regular hammer attack both is too slow and lacks an efficient hitbox. Only her Hammer whirl consistently works (because it has the same properties the standard curl with added horizontal range). She's the worst character in the game which sucks. How the hell does a character with a Magic Hammer suck (yes it's canonically magical, see Sonic the Fighters)?

Sonic Advance 2 was an odd bit of genius. Sonic is fast, meaningfully so because you have to earn it unlike later incarnations where it is just a button press away. Gotta say, it's fun but gets old after a couple levels. It's clear this wasn't designed as anything more than something to play on the go so I can forgive the shallowness. That said, the levels (except for Music Plant) are all samey. This cannot be helped as it is limiting to have this much speed without long stretches of running which drowns out the level gimmicks. Despite the levels being six times the size of the previous game (Yuji Naka interview with Prima games, 2003) they feel about the same as the previous game, things feel smaller thanks to the speed. I did enjoy the concept of having every boss fight be fought while running.
Now as for the other playable characters....They might as well not exist. Much like the previous game, their abilities are wasted. Even moreso now that chaos emeralds aren't shared amongst the cast (there are unlockables...which all suck). Only one that shows some use is Cream against boss fights, everyone else might as well be a Sonic recolor. Speaking of special stages, who in the nine hells thought it was a good idea to have the player collect seven emblems in levels where exploration is near impossible? Your only option is consistently replaying the level and memorizing the paths where the emblems are which is just not fun. This is made worse with said emblems having to be gotten in one perfect run, you die, you lose the emblems. Why make getting the non-rewards so bloody hard. Speaking of which...
Amy Rose, the "bonus character". I still have the manual for Sonic Advance 2 and in it, it tells you Amy is a "bonus character" that must be unlocked. WHY? Every character must be unlocked but it goes out of the way to tell you Amy is something special when she is just a Sonic recolor with panty shots (because her Advance 1 moveset has been abandoned). Why is Amy gated like she's Super Sonic or something?
I know I'm complaining a lot but there is legitimately something special here. Boost Mode has some serious speedrunning potential not to mention that having more rings makes it easier to activate (you get more forward momentum with more rings, other than that the physics are the same as Advance 1). The trick system does wonders for quick moments with branching paths and has saved my ass more than once aside from just being well, fun. It's short shallow fun, just don't binge and you'll have a good time.

Sonic Advance 3....Fuck this game. Just right up the ass with a 2 in. x 10 ft. Galvanized Steel Pipe
This game was released in 2004. Shadow the hedgehog was released in 2005. 2006....Yuji Naka clearly stopped giving a shit around this time. Where do I fucking begin?
The physics suck. They've increased the forward momentum in an attempt to make Sonic even faster without thinking that maybe the controls would suffer. Jumping is now janky and Sonic is as slippery as a fish. Furthermore, this affects his collisions meaning slopes and the like react unnaturally. Boost mode is completely useless as a result.
The levels suck. They took inspiration from Knuckles Chaotix and its labyrinthine level design and failed. The levels are so poor that they have to put arrows every so often to guide the player because there is no method to the madness. And I haven't even talked about the death pits, poor platforming over said deathpits, and nonsensical enemy placement where enemies hit you once knocking you into a deathpit. I may be wrong but I don't think Knuckles Chaotix had any deadpits. None at all.
The teams suck. Who wants to play as Sonic without his spin jump? How bout a Tails that can't fly. You know what would be better? Being able to just switch between two characters with all of their abilities. You don't even need any of the other teams because Sonic and Tails with the weird leapfrog super jump covers most situations.
The running animations are fucked. I don't even know how they messed this up. Animation varying based on speed is a staple of Sonic games and was perfectly implemented in Sonic Advance 2 so what the fuck happened?
Getting into special stages sucks. Collect seven chaos in the levels then find the key needed to unlock a secret spring in the hub....What happened to collecting 50 rings and jumping into a giant ring? Why is this so convoluted?
The boss fights are ass. One of them is just Robotnik in a giant slow wheel....What even is this?
I have nothing good to say about this game. Not a damn thing.

#2 User is offline Toasty 

Posted 29 September 2018 - 07:53 PM

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I never played Sonic Advance 2 or 3, but I liked the first game. I felt like it was a breath of fresh air in the 2000s when Sonic was sucking on consoles. I didn't like the screen resolution though thanks to the weak GBA hardware. Was this the game with Neo Green Hill Zone? That was ummm and interesting name choice.

Is this game worth playing again if I haven't played it since it first came out? Are 2 and 3 worth it? I'm sure they're ridiculously priced on Ebay so 3ds emulation is how I'd play them.

#3 User is offline SonicGenesis89 

Posted 29 September 2018 - 08:00 PM

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View PostToasty, on 29 September 2018 - 07:53 PM, said:

I never played Sonic Advance 2 or 3, but I liked the first game. I felt like it was a breath of fresh air in the 2000s when Sonic was sucking on consoles. I didn't like the screen resolution though thanks to the weak GBA hardware. Was this the game with Neo Green Hill Zone? That was ummm and interesting name choice.

Is this game worth playing again if I haven't played it since it first came out? Are 2 and 3 worth it? I'm sure they're ridiculously priced on Ebay so 3ds emulation is how I'd play them.


You can just play them on a Game Boy Advance Emulator. That's a lot easier and it won't cost you anything! :) I definitely think that all three of them are worth playing! I personally think that the Sonic Advance games are really fun and I really liked and enjoyed all three of them. I love how very lively the sprites all are and their animations. The first game felt closest to how a Genesis game would play and feel while the other two developed their own gameplay styles which I thought were good and fun as well. I agree that getting to the special stages in Sonic Advance 2 and 3 were ridiculously hard and Amy should have been an available character in Sonic Advance 2 instead of being an unlockable. I agree that Sonic Advance 3 had really unfair and punishing level design and enemy placement at times but I still think that the game is very fun despite some of it's flaws. I think Sonic Advance 2 is the best of the three personally.
This post has been edited by SonicGenesis89: 29 September 2018 - 08:04 PM

#4 User is offline SoNick 

Posted 29 September 2018 - 08:06 PM

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It's been years since I last played any of them, but from memory Sonic Advance (1) is a nice game that has a few flaws here and there but is overall a fun experience. I remember intensely disliking Sonic Advance 2 around release and for several years afterwards, but in the years since then the series hit even lower lows so it might actually be decent if you go back and play it? I'm not sure. Sonic Advance 3 felt like they had an idea for a team gimmick and tried to build the game around strictly sticking to the concept instead of refining the concept into good gameplay. It's worth experiencing, but I don't know if it's worth playing more than once.

#5 User is offline FollOw 

Posted 29 September 2018 - 09:06 PM

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I love Sonic Advance 1, I love it more then the DS titles they released later on. The physics in these games are great too. I felt it was the most accurate in a long time until Sonic Mania came around.... I honestly kinda wish they would re-release these for the Switch or 3DS... Imagine if they let M2 enhance the games.
This post has been edited by FollOw: 29 September 2018 - 09:08 PM

#6 User is offline Ritz 

Posted 29 September 2018 - 10:59 PM

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I have fond memories of Advance 1, but I think my having played it on my cousin's GBA during my one trip to Disney World might have colored the experience and I'm afraid of ruining it with scrutiny. Was also just thinking about how I still haven't played any of the Rush games. Not sure when I'm going to crack this time capsule open.

I'm haunted by the sense that we had a good thing going with Dimps and that I shouldn't have turned my nose up at them.

#7 User is offline SuperSnoopy 

Posted 30 September 2018 - 03:37 AM

  • I prefer Sonic Advance to Sonic 2
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Before Sonic Mania, Sonic Advance 1 was actually my second favorite 2D Sonic game, surpassed only by Sonic 3&K.
Maybe it's because I love Modern Sonic's aesthetics, but something about this game just clicks with me. I love it, and I make sure to revisit it every once in a while.

I like Sonic Advance 2 as well, but it's mainly because of nostalgia. It's the first Sonic game I've ever played (on my brother's GBA), so I got some connections to it. It's interesting to play the prototype to the later boosts games, but I think it pale in comparison to them. Still a fun time, though.

Sonic Advance 3...sucks. Big time. I have no idea what the hell happened with this game. It's such a fucking chore to play. Yes, the partner mechanic is interesting, but that doesn't amount to jack shit if the level design never make use of it.
And the bottomless pits...and the crushing blocks...and the bosses...just typing about it make me angry.
Chaos Angel. CHAOS ANGEL. How the hell could anyone on the development team approve this piece of shit level? I look like the kind of shit you'd see in a crappy sonic 1 hack.


Anyway, Sonic Advance 1 and 2 are great. It's just a shame that this sub-serie had to end on such a crappy note.

View PostFollOw, on 29 September 2018 - 09:06 PM, said:

I honestly kinda wish they would re-release these for the Switch or 3DS... Imagine if they let M2 enhance the games.

Sonic Advance 1 got a virtual console release on the Wii U, so that's something, I guess. Only in Japan though.
This post has been edited by SuperSnoopy: 30 September 2018 - 03:41 AM

#8 User is offline big smile 

Posted 30 September 2018 - 05:10 AM

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For me a big appeal of the classic games was using Sonic's speed to explore the large levels. Sonic 3 & Knuckles was my favourite because of all the different routes, but also the goodies one could find when exploring (such as shields).

As such, I didn't really like the Advance games. They did have large levels, but they were very samey. And all the bottomless pits meant that often the reward given for exploring was death.

The DS titles were much better. Interestingly the 3DS titles were rather weak, so it seems the dual screens forced Dimps to do better level design.

I guess now with the Switch being a dual portable/home console, the portable series is over (Unless Sega start releasing Switch exclusive titles).

#9 User is offline Overlord 

Posted 30 September 2018 - 12:39 PM

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Sonic Advance 1 was the closest thing to a real Sonic 4 until we got Sonic Mania.

Sonic Advance 3 is alright, imo. Largely forgettable but not a terrible game.

Sonic Advance 2 can fuck right off. The special stages suck, they're a pain in the arse to reach, and do not get me started on the eldritch horror that is Sky Canyon. A level composed almost entirely of death pits that's then followed by a boss that can one-hit kill you when you have rings, something that breaks every rule in the franchise. If it's not a crusher, it shouldn't OHKO you. Bitchslap Of Death is not a fucking crusher.

#10 User is offline Crappy Blue Luigi 

Posted 30 September 2018 - 01:05 PM

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View PostOverlord, on 30 September 2018 - 12:39 PM, said:

Sonic Advance 2 can fuck right off. The special stages suck, they're a pain in the arse to reach, and do not get me started on the eldritch horror that is Sky Canyon. A level composed almost entirely of death pits that's then followed by a boss that can one-hit kill you when you have rings, something that breaks every rule in the franchise. If it's not a crusher, it shouldn't OHKO you. Bitchslap Of Death is not a fucking crusher.

This is valid and most of my perspective, too. Sonic Advance 2 was the only one of the Advance games I had for my GBA, and I was stuck on Sky Canyon for FOREVER. When I finally got past the boss, I took one look at Techno Base and basically never touched it again.

#11 User is offline Diablohead 

Posted 30 September 2018 - 04:07 PM

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I remember buying advance 2 and being put off on the same day because of the new method of getting to special stages, not sure if I ever did reach the second one or beyond.

I love advance 1, it doesn't try to add too much, sure the special stages are a bit funky but they work and I was able to 100% the game cart back in the day.

#12 User is offline Boxer Hockey 

Posted 30 September 2018 - 04:38 PM

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I love Advance 1 with all my heart. I still have far-flung dreams of someone bringing back the Chao Hunt multiplayer game. So many fond memories of me and my friends hooking up our GBAs at lunch time and playing til the bell rang.

But yeah, Advance 2 completely lost me with it's levels that just felt TOO sprawling. One of my favorite elements of Sonic level design is, despite the multiple paths, you always had a good sense of where you were in a level. Advance 2's levels were so stretched out it felt like no matter how many times I played a stage I always felt lost. Just being propelled forward and not encouraged to explore.

Advance 3, yeah. The partner system was something I wanted for years, but the level design again just made Advance 3 feel so alien. Also, my least favorite hub world system ever in a Sonic game. I think I was also supremely over the Advance music stylings by then. Sonic soundtracks aren't just so revered because they're catchy but because of the unique atmosphere they give each level and so many Advance tracks blend together in my mind I honestly couldn't pick one from the other.

#13 User is offline Mester Keel98 

Posted 30 September 2018 - 05:08 PM

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Interesting how Advance 1 seems to be seen as more or less universally good or alright but Advance 2 and 3 are fairly polarizing where you typically like either one or the other but rarely both.

Sonic Advance 1 is definitely my personal favorite of the bunch. The Special Stages still run on a "just gotta find the entrance" system, albeit a more limiting version of it, which is fine enough by me. They aren't too difficult after you get used to the wonky feeling of the perspective. The stages are mostly fun enough to run through, and the Tiny Chao Garden was a decent little time eater while on a bus ride. The multiplayer was pretty sweet, but I never got to experience it with someone around my own skill level. Overall a pretty solid game, I think.

Sonic Advance 2 can go die in several fires. To me this game is only good for torture porn*. I didn't find a fair chunk of the levels all that fun to run through; Sky Canyon was especially a devil to behold. The gotta go fast system (the more rings you have, the faster you reach the boost effect and speed) that it introduced was pretty neat, but that's about all I truly liked about it. The way that you get to special stages was just awful to me; you do a perfectly perfect run through an exact single route, collecting the SP Rings along the way. I made it to exactly one and then never felt like trying it again; at the time I did not have a good level memory nor did I feel like looking up maps online just to be able to do all that. Amy nor whatever Super Sonic thing was at the end didn't really seem worth getting, so I never even considered bothering.

Sonic Advance 3 is one that I like the ideas in but a bit less so the execution. I genuinely like the team system and all its weird quirks. Once again, I am in no way a fan of how you get to special stages, but at least it's nice that you aren't forced to make one ultra perfect run to get to them. Much of the enemy placement and the crush blocks are a bit sadistic, unfortunately. Many of the bosses are neat enough. Didn't care much for the hub world. Mostly solid game, I would still say.

* SFW, I promise :v:
This post has been edited by Mester Keel98: 30 September 2018 - 05:14 PM

#14 User is online Yeow 

Posted 30 September 2018 - 05:12 PM

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View PostToasty, on 29 September 2018 - 07:53 PM, said:

I never played Sonic Advance 2 or 3, but I liked the first game. I felt like it was a breath of fresh air in the 2000s when Sonic was sucking on consoles. I didn't like the screen resolution though thanks to the weak GBA hardware. Was this the game with Neo Green Hill Zone? That was ummm and interesting name choice.

Is this game worth playing again if I haven't played it since it first came out? Are 2 and 3 worth it? I'm sure they're ridiculously priced on Ebay so 3ds emulation is how I'd play them.


I played all three of them a while back via emulation (although at one point, I did have a GBA SP and a copy of Sonic Advance 3 lying around, and played a little bit of that years ago when I was younger).

If you ask me--only Advance 1 is worth (re)visiting. Don't bother with the sequels.

Advance 1 ain't perfect (the first signs of Dimps' design philosophies in both level design and priorities in designing game mechanics/movesets; Advance 1 also works more as a midway point of the Genesis games and the post-Adventure games rather than a true "Sonic 4" as others have been saying) but it's arguably one of the very few post-Adventure Sonic games to actually get the concepts of classic Sonic's design philosophy mostly correct, and functions as a solid platforming experience.

Advance 2 and Advance 3 chuck both of those elements out the window and are thus pretty mediocre games. When people talk about Sonic being "holdright2win" being solely about speed (even without factoring in the Rush/Boost games), or especially "Sonic is a flawed concept because the games want you to go fast but then punish you for going fast so you have to go slow as a result": Advance 2 is the game to blame for perpetuating those stereotypes. Meanwhile Advance 3 I think is just as bad on that front--the only difference is that it trades in "Straight Line Zone" levels for marathon levels that despite being giant in size are still super shallow and repetitive in their design. The level design structures for both titles just drop any attempt at coherence and collapse into disjointed, randomized strings of platforms strung together to look like a level. Already been said, but it also needs to be noted--the methods for accessing the Special Stages are both pretty terrible, as are some of the boss designs (especially Advance 2 for making every one of them auto-scrolling levels).

I'd also say the Advance games as a whole are also an example of the development team adding in new mechanics for the sake of having a new trick they can slap on the back of the box, instead meaningfully evolve the gameplay they have, and they also suffer from being designed without any proper strenghs/weakness to balance out the moveset. Amy Rose in Advance 1 feels like she was designed for an entirely different platforming game. Cream in Advance 2 is pretty much a superior Tails in that her flight is easier to control and her Cheese chao makes enemies a complete pushover. The secondary mechanics added throughout the series, especially the truckload of partner combinations Advance 3, are too convoluted for the style of platforming design the Advance series is built on, and come off as excessive noise. The majority of which are mostly flashier alternatives of the core roll and spin attack mapped onto a different button that still serve the same purpose--most people probably aren't even aware these mechanics exist unless they look up the manual.

One thing I will give the Advance sequels though--I do like some of the level themes, and I do like the soundtracks (even if they are cripped by the GBA soundfont), especially those of Advance 3. I'm also a bit amazed in hindsight the developers still bothered to retain most of the classic physics properties for Advance 2, despite ripping out the restraint breaks on the game's focus on speed.

EDIT: And although I consider both Advance 2 and 3 both around the same level of subpar, if I had to pick one as the lesser evil it would be Advance 3 based on personal progression alone. I last played Advance 3 just when I reached the endgame, the Mario-esque moving platform gimmick level that represents the entirety of Chaos Angel Act 3. Which is pretty dumb level on its own terms, but that's a lot more than I can say for Advance 2--I haven't beaten the fan-unfavorite Sky Canyon Zone.
This post has been edited by Yeow: 30 September 2018 - 05:48 PM

#15 User is offline lupinsmask 

Posted 30 September 2018 - 05:54 PM

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Sonic Advance is one of my favorites. I love listening to the Secret Base Act 1 and Egg Rocket themes (plus replaying Egg Rocket). I've hated Ice Mountain since the first time I played it.

Sonic Advance 2 used to be a favorite but the mostly hold right to win became boring, very few enemies I get to use those boost attacks on (best place to see them is in front of Sky Canyon's fans), running through the memorized path needed to get the special rings in certain acts for Sonic/Amy eventually felt like breathing for me. I prefer Advance 2's special stages, feels easier than Adavance1 or 3's.

Sonic Advance 3 angered me the first time I played it, kept getting crushed in Route 99. I keep forgetting that Twinkle Snow exists because it doesn't do anything unique except a aurora borealis and its boss. Ocean Base and the special stages can go f their selves. I felt little sadness when I traded Advance 3 in for gamestop credit.
This post has been edited by lupinsmask: 30 September 2018 - 05:55 PM

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