Sonic Advance 3 (2004)
Sonic Advance 3 is kind of the black sheep of the Sonic Advance series. It’s different in the way that it’s just not very good. Following on from Sonic Advance and Sonic Advance 2, this game features the same physics, which are still perfect. Sonic Advance 3 however adds some interesting new features, which unfortunately just don’t work very well.
The game once again features 5 playable characters, this time each with a good unlock method. Sonic and Tails are available at the start, and after that you can get Knuckles, Amy, and Cream. What makes Sonic Advance 3 stand out from it’s predecessors is the ability to partner two characters up. You could do this in Advance 1 using a cheat code, but in Sonic Advance 3 it’s fleshed out in an extremely interesting way. Each character has their own moveset, as in previous games, but this moveset varies depending on who your partner character is. For example, Sonic paired with Tails has a traditional Sonic moveset, whilst Sonic paired with Amy allows Sonic to use a hammer. This can lead to some really fun and interesting combinations. One of my favourite combinations is Tails and Amy, as they are two of my preferred characters, and Tails flying around with a hammer to swing is a lot of fun. A nice side-effect of this system is that Amy’s original moveset from Sonic Advance makes a comeback if you pair her with the right character, allowing anyone who wants more of a challenge to have it. This entire partner system is genius, and would work well had the rest of the game been up to scratch.
The first problem in Sonic Advance 3 that you will notice is the addition of a hub world. The hub worlds in Sonic Advance 3 are incredibly tedious to navigate. After the first zone, you will frequently find yourself searching for the next act. In previous Sonic Advance games, you navigated through a simple menu in order to start playing the game. In Sonic Advance 3, you must first enter the game, go through warp pipes to get to the zone you want, and then search for the act you want to play. I can’t stress how annoying this is when you just want to play the game. The special stages are once again tedious and just plain bad.
Sonic Advance 3’s level design is appalling. There are constantly walls, enemies, bottomless pits, spikes, and awkward crushing hazards that stop you from progressing. It feels like you can’t run for more than 5 seconds in this game without losing some rings. Sonic Advance 2 was at least respectable, but Advance 3 is just painful to play.
The graphics are as good as ever, with some interesting environments such as the ‘Toy Kingdom’ and ‘Route 99’, which manage to look as nice as zones in the previous games. They just don’t play as well. The characters are also just as expressive in previous games, and I have to praise the fact that there are some unique idle animations with certain character pairings.
The music in Sonic Advance 3 is also up to the series’ standards. ‘Sunset Hill Zone’ has an interesting remix of the ‘Green Hill Zone’ music, and I can very clearly remember the ice zone’s music.
Overall, Sonic Advance 3 is just kind of mediocre. I’d recommend giving it a shot, as some people do enjoy it, but I personally feel as if the only good addition the game makes is overshadowed by the bad level design.
Coming into this review, I really didn’t think I could give it such a low score, but I just couldn’t find the heart to give it more than a 6.