Soapbox: Please, Please, Please Release Sonic Advance Trilogy On Nintendo Switch Online

Sonic Advance GBA
Photo: Nintendo Life / Zion Grassl

Soapbox features allow our individual writers and contributors to express their opinions on hot topics and random things they have at heart. Today, Stuart is begging for a certain trilogy on Nintendo Switch Online …

Game Boy Advance Comes to Switch Online! Maybe! Almost certainly at least! Hopefully. Ahem.

See, it’s not confirmed, but it is as well as, which was enough to encourage me to write a post begging Sega and Nintendo to find out their age-old differences and bring back an almost forgotten series of Sonic classics. A renaissance era for 2D Sonic fans. Yes, of course I’m talking about the venerable Sonic Advance series. Three games, a tangentially related match-RPG thing (Sonic Battle) and some pinball game (Sonic Pinball Party).

The last two do not expect much from this, although it does not mean that they have nothing to offer – Sonic Battle has a shockingly emotional story for a Sonic game, and Pinball Party is a really good time. However, these are the main games I want the most – Sonic Advance, Sonic Advance 2 and … uh … (checking Wikipedia) Sonic Advance 3. I mean, come on! They have not been re-released – apart from an appearance on the Japanese Wii U eShop – since their original bows on the GBA cartridge back in 2001, 2002 and 2004 respectively. Yes, I can feel a hardcore Sonic fan stab me in the back about 2003 N -Gage version of the original game, Sonic N. I know, buddy. Believe me, I’m obsessed too.

In any case, the games would be a perfect candidate for the rumored Switch Online service, and I pray to the various gaming gods that this happens. While the Sonic Advance series is not perfect, I think it’s a bit ingenious and I would like to spend some time explaining exactly why each of the games is specifically worth your time, effort and energy.

Sonic Advance kicked things off with the first 2D Sonic game since Sonic & Knuckles back in 1994. Wait, no, that’s strictly not true – the genius Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure for Neo Geo Pocket Color hit the fateful system in late 1999. Okay, this is the first ‘high-profile’ 2D Sonic game and the first Sonic game on a Nintendo system (along with Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, which was launched on the same day, December 20, 2001). This was seismic at the time a true “snowball in hell” moment for games.

But that is not the intention; that point, dear reader, is one to be expressed as eloquently as possible: Sonic Advance slams. My friends, this is a damn game; it’s not a match for the Mega Drive classics, but it’s closer than anyone would dare admit. The ability to play as Tails and Knuckles with their familiar skills makes things feel even more vintage. Best of all, you can now play as Amy Rose with her Piko Piko Hammer, fresh from Sonic Adventure. It’s more than just a novelty – she transforms the game, makes it much harder and forces you to approach it much more carefully. She can not spin a line and is not invulnerable when she jumps – but a number of new hammer-based movements make up for it.

The sequel came next year, creatively titled Sonic Advance 2, and is most notable for the introduction of the disgustingly named Cream the Rabbit, the latest by Sonic’s friends, and a defacto “easy mode” for an already fairly easy game. Her ability to throw her little Chao buddy – the also disgustingly named Cheese – at enemies from almost anywhere on screen made her a cute little death machine.

There is also a new and strongly divisive focus on speed. You know the common (and inaccurate) critique of classic Sonic that it’s simply “keep right to win”? Well, Sonic Advance 2 is probably the closest the series ever came to making so little bon mot a reality. Of course, it’s not really winning, but you’re encouraged to go faster than ever with a proliferation of speed-boost pads, simplified grinding mechanics, and the new ability to get a barrage of extra speed when running after an unbroken few seconds . Even the boss fights see you chasing Robotnik as he accelerates away from you in his latest mecca monstrosity and takes potshots.

It’s hard to really love Sonic Advance 2, but if you fall for its charm, it will be your favorite. The music and the visuals are amazing things, and – for better or worse – this is probably the hardest Sonic game to get all seven Chaos Emeralds into. However, you will have to unlock everything. You have to get all the Emeralds with each of the other four characters to be able to play as Amy, who unfortunately is not worth the hassle as she has been made much less interesting than she was in the original Sonic Advance. Boo! Hiss!

Then we move on to Sonic Advance 3, a game so strange that when its ROM file leaked prior to release, many people assumed it was a fake fan effort of some sort. See, there’s a lot about Advance 3 that’s a little … off. The physics feel as if they have been adjusted and the game feels at times a touch weightless. It’s also bizarre how the whole fast – paced structure of the first two titles has been overtaken by a strange, almost labyrinthine hub area that makes you explore empty, uninteresting enemy-free spaces to locate “Act Rings” that lead to each zone; which also now has three acts each instead of two, with a fourth boss act found separately in the hub.

So far, it’s so weird, but it’s still a pretty good time. The big new mechanic is team-up moves; at the beginning of the game you select two characters from the same group of five as the previous game and then send them out into the world. This is cool in the sense that you can simply leave Sonic lying while e.g. Knuckles and Cream take on the adventure. Since many of the team-up moves (used by holding down the ‘R’ button) are based on propelling you up in the air, the levels have an increased verticality and honestly feel absolutely huge. Finding the hidden Chao in each action is therefore a significant challenge to take care of, though it’s more fun than collecting the special rings in Advance 2.

It almost goes without saying that the music here reigns; the last zone “Chaos Angel” is ridiculously epic and at times warned. The story is a kind of overall follow-up to Sonic Battle – ignore it. Treat it like the 21 2D Sonic levels it is and you will be hard pressed not to enjoy yourself.

Then again, Nintendo – Sega – whoever – I’m asking you to make this series available again, and the Nintendo Switch Online service is the perfect option. In fact, it would be best for everyone if you (Nintendo, I’m talking to you) would simply do as I say at all times.

So, the Sonic Advance series, yes? Then the Klonoa games. So Kururin Paradi— [Snip! – Ed]