Now THIS is a true Sonic game!
I recently reviewed Sonic Lost World. For those who haven’t seen the review, I’ll recap it for you: I pretty much hated that game. Well, after that load of frustration, I decided to play through Sonic Advance 3. I needed something to cleanse my soul after playing that abomination. Let me tell you, I don’t regret that decision.
Sonic Advance 3 was released for the Game Boy Advance in 2004, and was developed by Sonic Team and published by SEGA. I was introduced to the Sonic Advance games with the second one many years ago, and I decided recently to get this game, finish my collection, and enjoy the experience.
Sonic Advance 3 plays a lot like the classic Sonic games; you can play as Sonic or a handful of his companions (unlockable as you progress through the game), and rush through each level to the end goal. It’s a nice blend of platforming and speed. There are seven main Zones in the game, each with three main Acts and a boss Act (meaning there’s about 21 main levels), plus there are some side bonus missions you can complete for extra lives.
After the last few years of playing a mix of good, bad, and “meh” Sonic games, it was refreshing to play a game in the series that returned to its roots and was enjoyable to play. There aren’t any complicated moves; you run, you jump, you spin-dash. There is an optional team-up move you can perform with your character’s partner (yep, you team up with one of the available characters on each playthrough), but it’s never necessary to complete the game. (At least, not a low% run; you may need it to get the Chaos Emeralds and get the true ending. And most likely to collect the hidden Chao.)
The level design is top-notch; You can easily speed Sonic through the levels without too much backtracking or ridiculous deaths (mostly – I’ll get to that later). On top of that, the level environments are fun and colorful, and some of the themes used for level design are unique for Sonic games; I mean, there’s a Zone themed like a toy factory! And I’ll dare say that this is one of the most colorful Sonic games I’ve ever played; the experience is packed with bright and eye-popping shades of green, blue, red, and pink.
As always, the soundtrack is on point; each song fits with the level, and each one is a pleasure to listen to in and out of the game. The soundtrack covers a variety of moods; one of the final songs in the game is easily the darkest song I’ve heard in a Sonic game. You can take a listen here!
As good as this game was, it had its flaws (albeit few). Some of the level design, especially at the end, contains plenty of opportunities for cheap deaths. Also, the game’s overworld is a bit overcomplicated; each Zone has a sort of mini level you can navigate to enter each of the levels. The gateways for the levels, though, are separated by gaps and put at various heights and in different parts of the overworld area. While I can appreciate that the overworld for each Zone helps explain the mechanics for that Zone, it often leads to frustration when I try to access a specific level but can’t because of the unnecessary amount of platforming required to get to the level gate.
All in all, though, I recommend that you play this game, especially if you’re a Sonic fan. If you’ve got a Game Boy Advance or an older DS, find a used copy at your local game shop or on eBay. It makes a very fitting close to the Sonic Advance series, and it’s one of those forgotten-about games that is still enjoyable today.
These Sonic Advance games really needed more love in Sonic Generations.