Fast… That’s right. This game is FAST. [i]Sonic Advance 2[/i] is one of the fastest Sonic games to ever come out on any system. While this is a great part of the game, it is also one of its biggest drawbacks, but only to an extent. I will get to that though.
[i]Sonic Advance 2[/i] is another classic side-scrolling Sonic game, this time, for the Game Boy Advance. Because it plays in the same style of the Sonic games of old, it will be easy to pick up, however, you will be pleased to notice some additions to what you are capable of in the game. Of course, these new capabilities are character specific, which means you will have to master all of the characters, but thankfully, it’s like learning a new language. Once you learn one, each of the others is cake.
Speaking of characters, let’s get into that. Naturally, with this being a Sonic game, it has Sonic the Hedgehog. Of course you really can’t have a Sonic game without Tails… if you don’t have Tails, it really feels like you are missing something while playing(like Sonic and Knuckles for instance.) Considering I just brought it up, Knuckles is also in this game. Then there is a new character as well. Cream the Bunny is adorable as hell. She can flap her bunny ears to fly around, much like Tails can, and she also has a sidekick. She has a Chao named Cheese. Yes, that’s right. Cream… Cheese… Yeah… I know it’s not that funny, but how could I not mention it?
Sonic is his natural speedy self, but to add to his normal attacks, he has a sliding-style quick-stopping move, and a tornado spin when flying through the air. Also, a move that all the characters share is an extra upwards boost through the air after getting big air from a large ramp. This helps a lot when you are just short of what you were aiming for. As long as you have the reflexes, you’ll hit your mark most every time. Tails can smack people with his tail while he is on the ground. That’s about the extent of his abilities. Knuckles can punch enemies and like past games can soar through the air while pounding through his opponents. Cream spends her time flinging Cheese at enemies and flying around like the rabbit from Monty Python and The Holy Grail.
Now, back to my complaint about the game being fast. While a Sonic game indeed should be fast, due to the small screen size, this game is almost too fast. I tend to get hit by things that I don’t see quick enough, or I can’t see where I am going to land and I have to estimate it in my mind. I found that in order to get through most of the levels, I had to memorize them. This isn’t exactly the fault of Sonic Team. It’s more due to the GBA screen’s resolution. It is a minor flaw in an otherwise great game.
Onto the bosses. Unlike Sonic bosses of the past, you fight all but one of these bosses while running at full speed. These bosses tend to be quite a fair challenge, and are the biggest reason that I had to retry several zones due to running out of lives. I would clear through the levels easily early on, but even the early bosses were whooping my ass because I couldn’t get the pattern down.
One boss in particular handed my ass to me on a silver platter over and over and over again. When you fight the boss the first time you are against Knuckles in the contraption, but as every other character, and once you have unlocked Knuckles, it will be Robotnik every time. Anyhow, the reason this boss kicked my ass so many times is due to an oversized hand literally bitch-slapping me to death repeatedly. Now, this wouldn’t have happened, but for some reason, this ONE boss was able to do one hit kills. That’s right… this boss could kill me even if I had 6,000 rings in my possession. There’s no clear sign of when I would die though. Sometimes he would hit me and I’d be fine, but other times he would hit me and I would die while I still had rings. I can’t tell if this is a game glitch or a bad idea by Sonic Team. Either way, this is the 2nd flaw in the game.
At the end of the game, you have to fight all the bosses again in classic Megaman style. Thankfully, these bosses require less hits to kill, but it can still be tedious if you had issues with the bosses the first time through. Thankfully, some of the playable characters are easier to use than others.
Let me explain. While Sonic is great and has his own variety of moves, he probably is the hardest character to win with. Since he is the first you have to play with until you unlock the other characters, he will be harder to use due to the new terrain. Tails is nearly as hard to use as Sonic… mostly against bosses. When he is flying, he can’t “unfly,” for lack of a better term, until he hits the ground. This makes it a pain when fighting bosses. Knuckles is quite an easy character to use. His flying/cruising across the landscape and his ability to climb walls also helps in finding Special Rings to access the 3D levels to attain the Chaos Emeralds. I’ll get into that in a moment as well. Cream is the easiest character to use. She can fly, which naturally helps, but her Chao, Cheese, is highly useful against bosses. You can attack from afar and stay safer than trying to go in close and still beat them. Cream was almost too easy to use.
Now to the emeralds. The emeralds are really just an afterthought in this particular game. They serve little to no purpose really. You unlock a few minor things that no one cares about. If you get all the emeralds as one character, which one I’m not sure, you get the sound test option. If you get them all as every character, you unlock Amy. You may remember her from Sonic Adventure. She was more or less useless in that game, and due to that, my motivation for getting all the emeralds in this game is all but existent. I probably wouldn’t mind trying to get them all if it wasn’t such a pain in the ass to even access the levels to get the emeralds. In every level there are 7 special rings. If you can find them all, without dying, and get to the end of the level, then you access the special level. You run around in 3D, which naturally is hard to control with a control pad, and you collect rings. You just avoid a bot and collect rings. You need to get enough in the allotted time. It’s really a tedious task, and considering what you get for accomplishing such a goal, it is not worth you time or effort. This is the last, and likely the most major flaw of this game.
Despite the few flaws, [i]Sonic Advance 2[/i] is an excellent side scrolling 2D Sonic game. It really made me feel like I was playing a classic Sonic game with an emphasis on speed instead of platforming. Overall this is a very solid game, and considering that Game Boy games are rather cheap, this is certainly a worthy buy. Any Sonic fan should love this game, regardless of the three minor abrasions on this otherwise polished gaming experience.