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They said it would never happen. Man would never walk on the moon. Television would never have more than 100 channels. Sonic the Hedgehog would never appear on a Nintendo console. Well, they were wrong. After Sega left the console-production business they turned to full-time software development for all the current-generation consoles. One of their first projects for the Game Boy Advance was Sonic Advance which brought Sega's beloved mascot to Nintendo's side of the field in 2002. In conjunction with developer THQ, Sega and Sonic Team brought us the first 2D Sonic game since 2000. In 2003 the game was ported to the Nokia N-Gage system under the name of Sonic N.

The game begins like most all over Sonic games: Dr. Robotnik is planning to take over the world again with the power of the Chaos Emeralds and it's up to Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles the Echidna, and Amy Rose to put a stop to his evil plans. Each character is playable from the start of the game and between them all they must collect the seven Chaos Emeralds. Certain levels are geared towards certain characters, meaning that some places are easy for Tails to traverse, but other places are simpler with Sonic.

Sonic and friends have most of their standard moves from past games, such as the spin jump and the spin dash. Each character also possess a new special move, such as a kick or a punch, that can also be used to beat the badniks. The one exception to this setup is Amy Rose. She is not capable of the spin jump, but to compensate she wields a huge mallet that can bash, smash, and flatten enemies. Some characters also possess unique moves from past games, such as Sonic's ability to grind down rails (from Sonic Adventure 2) and his insta-shield move from Sonic the Hedgehog 3.

Each zone consists of two levels with a boss attack at the end of the second level of a zone. Somewhere in each zone is the entrance to the sky-surfing bonus stage where a Chaos Emerald can be found. Characters can split the duty of collecting the emeralds, meaning that the game doesn't care who collects what emerald as long as they're all collected. Don't worry about finishing all of these tasks in a single play session - the game automatically saves your progress as you advance. The zones that Sonic and friends will explore are...

  • Neo Green Hill Zone (does this level sound familiar? It was the prototype name of the Aquatic Ruin Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2)
  • Secret Base Zone
  • Casino Paradise Zone
  • Ice Mountain Zone
  • Angel Island Zone
  • Egg Rocket Zone
  • Cosmic Angel Zone
  • The Final Zone (includes memorable bosses from past Sonic the Hedgehog games)
  • The Moon Zone (only accessible if all seven Chaos Emeralds have been collected and the game has been completed by every character)
As if all of this fun wasn't enough, the game also includes a Time Attack mode where the object is to complete each level in minimum time and a Tiny Chao Garden where players can raise their own electronic pets, Chao. Special pet Chao can be transfered to the Nintendo GameCube's Sonic Adventure 2 Battle where they can be accessed. The Chao Garden is merely a fun diversion and does not impact the main portion of the game.

Players seeking some additional nostalgia can activate a special mode that allows a CPU-controlled Tails to follow behind Sonic just as he did in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 To activate this simply go to the character select screen. Highlight Sonic, tap up once. Move to Tails, tap down once. Move to Knuckles, tap L once. Move to Amy, tap R once. Move back to Sonic and press A. When you get to the level select screen, a chime will sound. This confirms successful input of the code.

The graphics are a step up from their Game Gear and Sega Genesis counterparts, allowing for vivid colors and fully animated character sprites. Watch for little touches such as Sonic's quills reacting to wind. The sound effects and some of the music come form past Sonic games, while most all other auditory elements are completely new (although not as memorable).

Sonic Advance is a fresh look at 2D fun with everyone's favorite hedgehog. It provides refreshing changes to the Sonic series as well as includes some nostalgic touches from past games in the series. The game is still relatively new and as such can most likely be found on the shelf of your favorite video game store. Sonic Advance spawned a sequel in 2003, Sonic Advance 2, and no doubt many more are on the way.

Playing the game

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