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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Game Boy
Sonic Team
GENRE: Platformer
PLAYERS:   1-4
February 04, 2002
Sonic Colors

Sonic Colors

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I

More in this Series
 Written by Matt Swider  on May 23, 2002

Review: Sonic returns to his exciting 2D format?Now if we could only bring back the animated cartoon show.

They say certain games sell the systems they appear on. So when Sonic the Hedgehog debuted on Genesis in ?91, the demand became high for the console and Sega launched into success. Down the line, those who wanted to get their hands on any Sonic game were forced to purchase the Genesis, Game Gear, or even Saturn, due to the fact that he was a first-party mascot. Each 2D experience that Sonic starred in was a thrilling hit for the developer, the Sonic Team. However, when it came time for the 3D expansion of the series, most felt the latest Sonic games lost the magic touch that accompanied his tremendous speed. While the two Dreamcast titles satisfied many, others felt that Sonic hadn't returned to the full potential of when he was born into the market as a 2D platform.

Well, with an odd twist of fate in which Sega is developing for other platforms, combined with the classic nature that Game Boy Advance titles usually display, we receive a portable Sonic the Hedgehog game that returns to its roots. Though Sonic did make an appearance on Neo Geo Pocket Color a few years back, this will be the first title for a full audience that features Sonic on a handheld platform other than one of Sega's. It's almost as if the mascot it making a guest appearance, similar to the old Flinstone's meet the Jetson's television crossover back in the eighties. It pretty remarkable to see the hedgehog on Game Boy Advance, and the gameplay goes along with that excitement.

Sonic Advance looks and plays just like it's predecessors, which should make fans of the series at home. However, with the latest title, we are treated to an all-new, original storyline rather than a two-bit rehash of a prior Sonic plot. Like each Sonic game before it, Advance is centered on preventing Dr. Robotnik's evil plans and collecting the Chaos Emeralds in each of the six game environments. Players are not only able to control Sonic, but three of his friends that we met in prior Sonic adventures. Of course, this includes Sonic's long time partner Miles ?Tails? Prower who has the ability to helicopter about the levels for a limited time. Secondly, we have the always converting from evil to bad echidna, Knuckles, who players will battle as a boss in the game in addition to play as. His ability to float and climb walls comes in handy throughout the game in areas that would normally spell death for Sonic or the other cast members. Finally, we have Amy who seems like the oddball character of Sonic Advance. While she doesn't have any special ability or power, the pink lady carries a rather large hammer to pound enemies into the ground with.

The setup to Sonic Advance is somewhat altered from what many may remember. Instead of each of the seven zones being split into three separate acts, reserving the final acts for the boss challenge, Sonic Advance only feature two acts per zone. With this, the battle with the boss happens at the conclusion of the second act compacting things more than we remember. Sonic himself returns with a couple of impressive moves. As always, he has the age old spin dash and also a defensive move that comes in handy by double tapping the A button. Sonic can barrel through each stage with extreme speed, but you don't want to miss anything like the bonus areas in which you gather a chaos emerald. That's why it's a must to head back through the levels with other characters to entirely complete the game.

From the green hills of the first zone to the casino stages inspired by the original, Sonic Advance contains some of the greatest level design to come to Game Boy Advance. Even being limited to the small screen, the Sonic Team has created quite a number of special effects within each level. It's not just going around a spiral ring or gaining speed with a spinning propeller anymore. Tunnels and loops, zero gravity points, rope and railings, interactive platforms, and controlled springs become the real thrill of the game. Sonic really shows his attitude and moves off really well, as do the rest of the cast of characters. Everyone on screen moves with great speed and fluid animation that is impressive even at its fast speeds. It's also noteworthy to mention the detail put into their impatient characters when they stand inactive for a short period of time. This 2D platformer contains some creative environments set to such a blazing speed that's both fast and furious.

Along with its familiar look and feel, Sonic Advance is comprised of an excellent set of tunes to sum up its music themes. The opening doesn't feature Sonic dashing to the right and left of a Sega logo with the speakers sounding the company's name, however within the game are familiar tunes mixed with new, fitting songs to make the music department complete. The same is true for the sound effects from the chime of collecting rings to Sonic gearing up for a spin dash; it's all here and works perfectly.

Besides the main game, players are treated to a VS mode, Time Attack mode, and the Tiny Chao Garden. Using a link cable, you'll be able to match other players in a game of ?Get the most rings? with one cartridge or Race and Chao Hunt when each player is using their own game pack. The Time Attack portion of Sonic Advance allows you to finish each level with your best time to complete the act. Both the versus and time attack parts of the game serve as additional replay value points, letting the title extend it's tlife span.

Sonic Adventure 2: Battle for GameCube, also released in February, sports one of the key GameCube special features, the GameCube/Game Boy Advance connectivity. With the cable, players can take part in a variety of chao races, memory puzzles, and other mini-games. Sending the chao between GameCube and Game Boy Advance works in vein to what Dreamcast and it's VMU Memory card did.

Bottom Line
Like I said at the beginning of this review, where Sonic sold many systems for Sega, it's Advance title will surely incite gamers to purchase a Game Boy Advance. If given the chance to play a mere ten seconds of the game, you're sure to realize the intense thrill that Sonic Advance can bring, mostly due to the spectacular level design, special effects, and booby traps. With additional modes like the Tiny Chao Garden, multiplayer options, and irresistible fun in the single player, picking Sonic up for Game Boy Advance won't be something you regret, especially for those looking for classic Sonic action. In short, it's a blast.

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