Sonic Advance

Game Boy Advance
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Release Date: Feb 3, 2002

Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 22
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 22
  3. Negative: 0 out of 22
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  1. What really shines, even on top of the great graphics and sound and gameplay, is the replay value.
  2. Pocket Games
    It looks, sounds and plays like a cartoon, and most importantly, it's just damend fun. [Spring 2002, p.30]
  3. Despite the 12 years since his debut, it's as captivating, exciting and, more importantly, as fun as it ever was - but of Sega, we'd expect no less. [GamesMaster]
  4. Overall, I was very happy with Sonic and kept me playing longer than Sonic on NeoGeo Pocket Color did.
  5. 91
    It's graphically excellent, it sounds great, it puts the link cable features to outstanding use, and its GameCube connectivity opens up potential never before available.
  6. The game is great, through and through, albeit short.
  7. Fun is the operative word here and this game delivers the brand of entertainment that gamers have come to expect from Sega and the Game Boy Advance.
  8. Why don't they make games like this for home consoles anymore? More fun than a small, spiky mammal with blue skin and a number of dysfunctional woodland friends has any right to be.
  9. 88
    Everything that a side-scrolling platform loving fan could ask for. It's got all the great, tried and true, fast-paced Sonic action of the old Genesis series, looks fine, plays excellently, and offers some fun multiplayer action.
  10. Game Informer
    It's too bad the single-player mode is a bit short, or this would have been darn near perfect. [Apr 2002, p.89]
  11. This game is packed with extras and most importantly, actually allows you to play as Sonic through the entire game, something sorely lacking from the Sonic Adventure series.
  12. Nintendo Power
    The different characters change the game play so much it's almost like adding levels to the game. [Feb 2002, p.152]
  13. While the game is slightly flawed due to some imbalances in its gameplay, it's ultimately a satisfying experience thanks to a mix of classic Sonic 2D gameplay, a familiar cast of characters, and new technology.
  14. Electronic Gaming Monthly
    Sonic and pals have never looked better in 2D. Still, I could've done without Knuckles and Amy. [Mar 2002, p.146]
  15. This game managed to do something its 3-D counterparts never could: catch my interest and hold on to it. I spent a lot of time simply looking around each level, experimenting with each character and attempting to find the various chao emeralds.
  16. 100
    It's the fluid and perfectly measured pace of Sonic Team's new game that makes it so good...Absolutely superb stuff.
  17. The things that made Sonic a hit back in the old days make it a classic now - fast game play, interesting intricate levels, and detailed and colorful graphics.
  18. 80
    A simple, tried-and-true blast from the past, faithfully recapturing the ’hog’s legacy and reigning in just enough characters and elements from the “new” to satiate anyone craving more from their marsupials than just movin’ to the right at really high speeds.
  19. 80
    Simply experiencing the old-school "Sonic" gameplay again after so many years of 3D titles makes the title a must-have for longtime "Sonic" fans.
  20. 80
    The best Sonic game in years.
  21. Although it doesn't bring anything new to the table, Sonic Advance is an enjoyable 2D platformer that will meet players' expectations.
  22. 100
    The best Sonic game released since "Sonic CD."

Awards & Rankings

#6 Most Discussed Game Boy Advance Game of 2002
#8 Most Shared Game Boy Advance Game of 2002
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 103 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 71 out of 103
  2. Negative: 5 out of 103
  1. Nov 26, 2016
    Sonic Advance is everything Sonic the Hedgehog 4 should have been. High-paced yet precise sidescrolling. Physics that rival the originalSonic Advance is everything Sonic the Hedgehog 4 should have been. High-paced yet precise sidescrolling. Physics that rival the original trilogy. Characters that provide new levels of fun. It's tragic that the Advance series as a whole has fallen into obscurity.

    The story is very much standard for the old-school 2D Sonic games. Eggman has captured a bunch of animals, and has decided to take over the world. Why? For plot convenience, of course. It's not the most interesting story, but it's a Sonic game, and gameplay takes priority.

    The gameplay is almost as if it was ripped from the genesis games themselves. The physics are pretty much perfect, and the level design is, for the most part, enjoyable. There are a few levels where trial and error are involved, but this is true of all 2D Sonic games. After playing it through once or twice, you'll know where to control your speed, and you will do absolutely fine.

    However, there is of course, a catch, as is tradition for Sonic games. The special stages are absolutely horrendous. They're slightly reminiscent of Sonic 2, which is fine in itself, but it involves a 3D plane, which really doesn't work well on the Gameboy Advance. It's incredibly difficult to determine where to place yourself, and as a result, makes collecting Chaos Emeralds tedious and frustrating. Fortunately, they're not necessary to enjoy the bulk of the game.

    The graphics are truly some of the best GBA games have to offer. Most of the environments are vivid, and the character animations are incredibly detailed. Sonic Team did an amazing job of the spriting. Even idle animations capture my attention, giving the characters a huge amount of personality.

    The game features four playable characters; Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and most interestingly, Amy. All play in a unique way, offering different paths and speeds. Sometimes these differences will benefit you, and at other times, you'll wish you picked another character. Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles play as they did on the original Genesis games, albeit with a few extra moves, such as Tails' (useless) tail swipe, and Knuckles' (useless) punches. This game introduces Amy as a playable character for the first time in a 2D Sonic game. Amy is most certainly the most enjoyable character to play as- She offers a whole new level of depth to the game, requiring you to master your timing, as she lacks the ability to curl up. Instead, she can use her hammer to attack, which is actually advantageous in many situations. For example, she can jump higher using a special move, and has a longer range than Sonic's insta-shield. She can even defeat certain bosses easier than the other three, as her range far exceeds the others. It is a common complaint that Amy is "not fun" and "too hard", but to that, I say, unironically: Get good. These characters introduce a large amount of replay value, as well as fun, new ways to play.

    The sound of this game is, as always, very memorable. Sonic games almost never get this wrong. However, whilst the tracks are memorable and the sound effects are great, it definitely suffers due to the limitations of the GBA sound card. This doesn't stop them from being catchy and appealing, though.

    Overall, Sonic Advance is a brilliant game, and most certainly the best out of the trilogy. It keeps speed to a good pace, but isn't too fast, and also has 4 unique ways of playing. It's not without flaws, but it's still an extremely solid experience. I definitely enjoy them more than the Genesis games, myself... but that's a matter of opinion.
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  2. Apr 24, 2012
    Don't read any of the reviews here. Only trust reviews below 6 for this game. It's terrible for me. Why? I'll explain it to you.
    Don't read any of the reviews here. Only trust reviews below 6 for this game. It's terrible for me. Why? I'll explain it to you.
    Sonic Advance is supposed to be basically what everyone calls "itz awsme, lik Soonic CD". I don't agree with any of that. This game is like an insult from Sega, telling everyone to screw off until next time. Why do I say this? Because the level design is terrible. The first two levels were enjoyable. But that's the issue, it's ONLY those two levels. While it makes sense that the later levels are supposed to get harder, it already loses my patience, reaching the "maximum ragequit" mode. You want a collection of hates? Here you go.
    First of all, the spikes. They. Are. EVERYWHERE YOU SEE. And plus, they place them at the rudest places ever. There's a spike where you are going to land. There's a spike where you are running. There's a spike where you are stopping at. There's a spike near your rings/items. There are so many freaking spikes, there is no way you can speedrun this game without dying at LEAST once. Another thing is the new enemy, the robot mole thing. It's exactly like spikes, except you can destroy it. And the level design has so many of these guys, like the spikes. I don't need to go through the same rant of how they are everywhere. And also, near the final levels, there is an overkill of enemy spawns. It's like the TMNT game for NES, where every house has hundreds of enemies on your screen. That's what the final levels do. What, are Sega the inventors of that game too? Are they trying to bring back "classic" frustration?
    Now let's get on with good things. You can become the awesome speedy guy that you saw in the older games. No, not those terrible older ones. I mean the classic Genesis ones. Those ones were fast. So is this game. That's a good thing, children! But the overkill of enemies of the levels just limit the speed, because you have to keep stopping, and then you go. The original Sonic games never wanted you to stop, you could keep going! Nope, not with Advance. And the extra moves for the characters don't help. Sonic has a roll attack thing like he does in Sonic Adventure. He also has an extra jump attack if you hit the A button twice. What help does an extra jump do?
    Oh, did you hear me again too? If you are a grammer person, that's right. MULTIBLE CHARACTERS. It was bad enough in Sonic Adventure. It was even worse in Sonic Adventure 2. Don't tell me you're gonna screw up classic Sonic with this. You have the following characters. Tails is basically the clone of Sonic, except it's a tiny bit slower but he can fly. Knuckles is an EXACT clone of Tails, and his punching moves don't help at all. Amy is useless, and the hammer doesn't help.
    Now the final two things I want to talk about are VS. mode and Tiny Chao Garden. VS. mode is the multi-player mode for this game, and it's fun. At least, if both players are equaly skilled. And the level design is terrible with all the stupid loops everywhere. What it is, explaining. You and a partner try to kill each other with loops and stupid power-ups. Done deal. The rings kind of take out the fun though.
    Tiny Chao Garden must be the main reason this game was created at all. To use it, you must BUY a GameCube and BUY Sonic Adventure 2 Battle. Then you BUY a GameCube-to-Gameboy Advance cable and get some Chaos and other stuff in the GameCube version. Connect the two games. Do something that I can't explain. You have your Chao in Sonic Advance. The thing is that you can basically raise him on the go on Gameboy, send him back on GameCube, and his upgrades are there. The thing is, the only way to raise him is get food, and the food is crazily expensive. And the two minigames have the most stupidest amounts of points you get when you win. Not worth the time.
    If you see this game, find it for a price of free, or at least $1 buck. Don't get this game at all on any of other price. The game is frustrating, stupid, and is NOT like Sonic CD at all. Don't even try calling it the masterpiece it was. Get the 2nd or 3rd, those two were so much better than this. Nope, don't even reach for this game because it has Tiny Chao Garden. Not for VS. mode either.
    Full Review »
  3. Sep 13, 2021
    Dimp's first attempt to make a Sonic game was a success! Sonic Advance almost perfectly emulates the physics and control of the Mega DriveDimp's first attempt to make a Sonic game was a success! Sonic Advance almost perfectly emulates the physics and control of the Mega Drive classics though I do think the acceleration is a little slow and the characters' volatility to the momentum is a little higher than usual. Yes, you can play as other characters besides Sonic. Tails and Knuckles return from Sonic 3 and Amy makes her 2D debut. I must admit, I've only played the game as Tails and knuckles so I won't spend a lot of time on Amy. Basically, she doesn't have the ability to spin, solely relying on her hammer to take out enemies.

    The main trio contain all of their skills from the games before. Tails can still fly, Knuckles can still glide and climb walls, and Sonic still has his insta-shield however it only increases his attack range. It doesn't protect him from certain obstacles anymore. There are also no elemental shields. With that being said, most would consider this game to be a step down from the Mega Drive classics however they fail to understand the limitations of the Game Boy Advance. I'd say, it's a miracle Dimps was even able to emulate the physics of the classics on a handheld without a back-light especially when they failed to do so 9 years later. I'm assuming everyone who worked on this game either left by the time we reached Sonic 4 or were actually designing a game meant for a mobile release. Tangent aside, this game was never meant to be the sequel to Sonic 3. Sonic Adventure already continued that story. Sonic Advance was merely meant to be an emulation and a fun call back with brand new stages.

    In my experience, Sonic Advance is about as fun as Sonic 2 for two stages. Neo Green Hill Zone and Secret Base Zone are both a blast to play, though the paths to the end are not easy to memorize. They are about as easy to memorize as Oil Ocean Zone but without the difficulty curve. There is still some cheap enemy placement but it's hardly even a problem in these two stages. The real problems with the level design start in Casino Paradise Zone. Cheap enemy placement and spikes become a problem here and the constant barrage of colors and details make it easy to get lost making the stage feel like a maze. There are also many bumpers and obstacles that make this stage a nuisance to get through. Ice Mountain made me think Casino Paradise's flaws were a fluke as it is decently designed (meaning less cheap) and brings the game to a much needed breathing moment. It is also the only stage where water is present and is the only time Knuckles was ever shown to be able to swim in all of his 2D appearances. The boss is even reasonably challenging. Angel Island Zone is where the problems from Casino Paradise return with a vengeance. Cheap obstacle placement up the ass and bottomless pits combined is the formula of a bad time.

    It is clear at this point that Dimps is trying to figure out how to make a proper difficulty curve in a game like this and they don't quite know how. Cheap obstacle placement and bottomless pits continue to become more common as the game continues. Egg Rocket was where I left off as Knuckles and Tails, and though it's vertical design is both interesting and concerning (Knuckles Chaotix), I still had a little fun. Cosmic Angel Zone is awful. It is one of my most agonizing memories regarding Sonic the Hedgehog. I don't even remember beating it but I'm currently in the X Zone so I must have at some point. It suffers from all of the above including one of my least favorite bosses of all time. The bosses in Sonic Advance are mostly fun. The best of which are the Egg Spider and the Egg Hammer Tank. I always had fun with these two. The worst, on the other hand are the Egg Snake and the Egg Ball.

    The Chaos Emerald hunting in this game is a massive step down from the classics. In a certain act of each stage there will be one hidden spring that teleports you into the special stage. The special stage in question is your character free falling on a snowboard. The goal is to collect a certain number of rings before reaching a check point. consequences speak for themselves. The problem with the special stage is the view distance is worse than the half pipe from Sonic 2. Rings just appear out of nowhere and the rings' hit boxes are pitifully small making collecting the rings near impossible. Meanwhile, bombs and obstacles are too easy to hit. To this day I haven't collected a sing Chaos Emerald and I'm not going to because the reward is playing as Super Sonic in an extra final boss. You can't even play as him in the normal stages. This is unfortunately a trend with all the GBA Sonic games. Horrible special stages all for nothing. It is the worst quality of this trilogy by far.

    Levels: 63/100
    Bosses: 61/100
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