Video Game / Sonic Advance Trilogy
aka: Sonic Advance 3

On December 21st, 2001, pigs flew in the video game industry when Sonic The Hedgehog finally made his debut on a Nintendo system with the release of the first ever original Sonic/Sega game to appear on a Nintendo system after Sega's switch to software manufacturing. The game was also released the same day in Japan along with the Nintendo Gamecube port of Sonic Adventure 2, known as Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, with the western version being released a few months later.

The Sonic Advance trilogy is a trio of games in the Sonic the Hedgehog series for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance.

Co-developed by SEGA and Dimps and designed in the vein of the classic Mega Drive/Genesis side-scrolling platformers, this trilogy is essentially lip-service for older fans, with some elements of Sonic Adventure thrown in.

The first game, Sonic Advance (2001), is perhaps the most reminiscent of the older games. The plot is very minimal (thwart Dr. Eggman!) and the gameplay is a bit slower than its successors but features a little more emphasis on platforming. This was the first 2D side-scroller in the series to feature Amy Rose as a playable character. The game was also ported to the short lived Nokia N-Gage as Sonic N, but suffered from being transposed from the horizontal screen of the GBA to the vertical screen of the N-Gage (it also removed the Tiny Chao Garden).

In Sonic Advance 2 (2002), Cream the Rabbit and her chao companion Cheese join Sonic and friends in the battle against Eggman after he abducts her mother and Tails. The gameplay is definitely the most extreme in the trilogy; the focus on speed is greater (to the point of making all but one boss a running battle), all of the characters now have the ability to grind on rails, and they can perform tricks with a press of the R button after going off a ramp/spring to gain more momentum.

The first two games both feature a special condensed Chao Garden (from the start in the first, unlockable in the second), and the GameCube-GBA link cable can be used to import/export chao from and to the GameCube ports of Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2.

In Sonic Advance 3 (2004), Eggman literally splits Earth into seven zones through the power of the Master Emerald, and uses a familiar robot that can emulate our heroes' abilities to try and take over the shattered world. Sonic and friends must reunite with each other in order to bring the planet back together and stop Eggman. The gameplay focuses on teamwork (kind of like Sonic Heroes or Knuckles Chaotix) by having you select a player character and a partner character out of five characters (Sonic, Tails, Amy, Knuckles, Cream); the different combinations have different abilities. The stage design is like a fusion of its predecessors, combining the platforming action of the first game and the high-speed hijinks of the second. This game was especially notable for its All There in the Manual story. The black robot Gemerl is actually the robo-reincarnation of Sonic Battle's robot Emerl.

Followed by a spiritual successor of sorts in the Sonic Rush games for the Nintendo DS, which were also critical successes.

This trilogy provides examples of:

  • Area 51: The True Final Boss fight in the second game takes place in "True Area 53". What, if anything, it has to do with Area 51 is anyone's guess.
  • Back from the Dead: Emerl, who was apparently rebuilt as Gemerl by Eggman, then reprogrammed by Tails back into his Emerl personality in 3, cheering up everyone after the ending of Sonic Battle.
  • Back That Light Up: The third game had different color settings to suit different Game Boy Advance backlight arrangements.
  • Band Land: Music Plant Zone in the second game.
  • Bonus Feature Failure: In an odd example, Sonic Advance 2 let you unlock the Tiny Chao Garden by meeting certain conditions in the game... Even though the first Sonic Advance had the exact same mode available from the start. The third game doesn't even have this feature.
    • Also from Sonic Advance 2, there is Amy, who is unlocked after the game is 100% completed. She (who in the first game was slow and couldn't roll, but had her own advantages) is little more than an alternate skin of Sonic.
    • A glitch in Sonic Advance makes rings not transfer to the Tiny Chao Garden from the main game if the save data is deleted. Fortunately, Sonic Pinball Party, which is in a Compilation Re-release with this game, does not have this glitch.
  • Boss-Only Level: The last two zones in all three.
    • Almost every boss in 2 and 3 have one. The only exceptions are the final boss in both 2 (Boss Rush level) and 3 (fight with Gemerl before the fight), and the first boss in 3 (Fight with Gemerl again).
  • Boss Rush: The first two games feature this. In the X-Zone in the first, before you fight the Egg X, you must go through memory lane by battling the ball-and-chain mobile from Sonic the Hedgehog and the infamous drill mobile from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in that order, both made easier by taking half the number of hits to beat (both bosses are accompanied by GBA-style rearrangements of the boss themes from their respective games). In XX (yes, it's really called that) in the second, you must go through all of the bosses you fought so far in the game before you get to fight the Super Eggrobo Z.
  • Bottomless Pits: Present in all of the regular levels of these games (the only exceptions being Neo Green Hill Zone in the first one, Leaf Forest in the second and Ocean Base in the third), though they are more common in the second and third games (looking at you Sky Canyon).
    • Did we mention that these bottomless pits are insanely long? You find yourself falling for quite a while.
    • The final Act of Chaos Angel from the third game is nothing but a bottomless pit, you just stand on a platform and avoid obstacles or die.
    • The second game suffers from "Bottomless Pit Syndrome", mainly because most of the levels have that as the only obstacle with the occasional Badnik or two.
  • Casino Park: Casino Paradise.
  • Cyberspace: Techno Base from 2, Cyber Track from 3.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: In the first game, pressing down while dashing throws the brake on Amy's momentum by making her crouch, as opposed to having her roll into a ball like it does for the other three characters (see also: like it does in every 2D Sonic game up until then). As you might reckon, this little handicap got removed in 2 and 3.
  • Dark Reprise: The theme of the third game's final zone, Altar Emerald, is an ominous remix of Holy Summit from Sonic Battle. The music that plays during Nonaggression likewise reprises Emerl's theme.
    • Act 3 of Sunset Hill Zone tosses in bits and pieces of the melody from Central City in Sonic Battle for its remix, which ends up giving Green Hill Zone's normally upbeat melody a good dash of mystery and darkness.
  • Difficulty Spike: Egg Rocket in Advance 1, Sky Canyon in Advance 2, and Ocean Base in Advance 3. There's a second spike in 3, where Twinkle Snow, a fairly easy zone, has an incredibly difficult boss battle.
  • Down the Drain: Ocean Base in the third game.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: What Eggman does in the beginning of the third game.
  • Eleventh Hour Superpower: Super Sonic in all three games.
  • Enemy Mine: Super Sonic and Eggman team up for the third game's True Final Boss, fittingly titled "Nonaggression", after Gemerl turns renegade and claims the Chaos Emeralds for himself.
  • Eternal Engine: It wouldn't be a Sonic game without such levels.
    • Secret Base, Egg Rocket, and Cosmic Angel in the first game.
    • Hot Crater and Egg Utopia in the second game.
    • Ocean Base in the third game.
  • Evil Is Petty: After defeating the second game as every character, the unlocked final boss will have Eggman kidnap Cream's mother, Vanilla before the heroes' eyes, seemingly for no other purpose than to goad Sonic into a revenge face off.
  • Excuse Plot: The first two games (the plot for both is "Dr. Eggman is up to his old tricks again!"). The third game's opening cutscene is this (Eggman actually does use the emeralds, and splits the world into seven zones), but as All There in the Manual states, there's more to the plot than meets the eye.
  • Expy: Mecha Knuckles, for Metal Knuckles from Sonic R.
    • The rabbit that sometimes pops out of Badniks is an expy of Pocky, one of the animals from the Genesis games. See Furry Confusion below.
  • Floating Continent: Features in all three games as floating ruins. Angel Island from the first one and Chaos Angel from the third one are set on the very same Angel Island that is featured in Sonic 3 & Knuckles and Sonic Adventure.
  • Furry Confusion: Cream the Rabbit is a playable character in the second game. When Badniks are defeated, the animal used to power it pops out. One of the animals that can pop out is a significantly less anthropomorphic rabbit.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Erasing the save file in 1 or 2 (sometimes?) causes the Tiny Chao Garden to stop collecting rings. It can only be fixed by collecting as many rings as you had when you erased the file, or transferring your rings to a Sonic Adventure game.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: Every boss except the last in Advance 2.
  • Gravity Screw: Cyber Track in the third game, Egg Utopia in the second, and Egg Rocket and Cosmic Angel in the first game. Also applies to Chaos Angel's boss in the third game via a tube on either side of the arena.
  • Green Hill Zone: Leaf Forest in the second game and Sunset Hill (which doubles as a Nostalgia Level) in the third. Oddly enough, Neo Green Hill from the first is less like this and more like Palmtree Panic.
  • Guide Dang It: Some Special Springs in 1 (protip: Ice Mountain has two), Special Rings in 2 (especially them) and the Chao in 3 might be very difficult for the player to locate. Bottomless pits, pesky speed boosters and unbacktrackable areas tend to make exploration even more difficult.
  • High-Tech Hexagons: Two of the three games featured high-tech, futuristic levels, both of which featured hexagons ad nauseum.
  • Hopping Machine: The Egg Press, one of Eggman's mechs in the first game. It returns in the third game; see Recurring Boss below.
  • Hub Level: For all seven zones in the third game, in a style not too dissimilar to the hubs of the Kirby games.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Knuckles. The first game's game guide gives him slightly above average in each of the three stats (Speed, Jumping, Special Skills). It also makes sense when you consider that he's normally a Lightning Bruiser.
  • Legacy Boss Battle: A Pre-Final Boss example. In Sonic Advance's final stage, Dr. Eggman reprises the first bosses from both Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and Sonic the Hedgehog 2, complete with the boss themes from both games, before the actual Final Boss battle occurs. And there seems to be no other reason for Eggman to go to the trouble of reenacting fights that he had lost before.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Amy Rose in the first game is slow and can't roll. However, she has a high jump and can attack from standing without needing to build up speed (this includes an absurdly fast dash attack.) She also has a better attack range due to her Piko Piko Hammer. She completely trivializes one of the bosses (who rely on an Oxygen Meter) by high jumping to the top of the screen (and catching a breath) and smacking Robotnik on the way down.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Hot Crater Zone in the second game.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Knuckles is tricked into fighting Sonic again by Eggman, becoming the pilot of the boss machine in Sky Canyon when you're playing as Sonic.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: Ex Demo 2 in Sonic Advance 3. a Triumphant Reprise of the title theme used for Super Sonic's transformation scene. The song lasts roughly twice as long as the scene it's used for does. It's actually pretty good, too.
  • Marathon Level: Egg Rocket in the first game, which has you going through three sections with a 5-minute time limit for each.
    • Advance 3's zones have three acts instead of two, which makes some of them feel quite long. The first two acts of Chaos Angel in particular can easily go up to 4 minutes.
  • Mythology Gag: The first Sonic Advance has a cheat code that allows Tails to follow Sonic in normal play, à la 'Sonic the Hedgehog 2''.
  • Nintendo Hard: It is hard to meet the requirements to get to the Special Stages in all three, but this is compounded by:
    • In the second game, you have to collect seven very well hidden SP Rings and not die at all before finishing a stage. Many of these rings were in difficult to access areas and backtracking was hard and, in some cases, impossible. Dying made you lose everything, forcing you to restart the entire stage. On top of that, you only got one shot a finishing the special stage; failing meant doing all of that over again.
    • Sonic Advance 3, on the other hand, had you searching for ten well hidden Chao spread between the three zones and the area map. Fortunately, the Chao garden will tell you the number of Chao in each zone and the map. Unfortunately, there was no official strategy guide for this game, unlike the other two, meaning you had to look online or explore almost every path to find them all. You permanently collect a Chao once getting it, which is fortunate, because some require specific teams or multiple playthroughs. When you have all 10, you have to find a key hidden somewhere in that game's considerably expansive levels and finish the stage with it (losing it if you die). They were mercifully often out in the open, they also had multiple locations within a stage making dying not as much of a problem (although you could only collect one per run through a stage), and you could have up to nine at once (nine separate tries).
    • Sonic Advance 2 may have had the hardest activation of the Special Stages, but their stages were much easier than the ones in Sonic Advance 1 or 3. 3's stages were incredibly difficult compared to the previous game, especially the last one, and unlike the second game which had a strategy guide to walk you through the locations of everything important, the third game didn't have one to help you out, so you were completely on your own.
  • Noob Bridge: In Sonic Advance 2, first act of Sky Canyon Zone, it's impossible to progress without using an air jump move that's only usable while not in ball form. (Up + R) If you miss it the first time, you'll end up in a pretty dangerous area with blind platforming. Continue on and you'll reach another point where you must use the move or die, and the only hint is a bunch of rings shaped like an up arrow.
  • Nostalgia Level: Several from Sonic Advance: Neo Green Hill Zone, Casino Paradise, Cosmic Angel/X-Zone and The Moon are all obvious homages to Green Hill Zone, Casino Night, the Death Egg and The Doomsday respectively.
    • Sunset Hill in Advance 3 is what Green Hill became after Eggman's reality warping experiments at the beginning of the game. Angel Island from Advance 1 and Chaos Angel from Advance 3 are also the same Angel Island from 3 and Adventure.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: If the Sonic 2-like rescue scene in Advance 1's ending wasn't enough, Advance 2's first ending shows the player character falling from space to the Earth without any injuries.
    • For that matter, the true ending of Advance 2 when you clear True Area 53. Is Vanilla really that much more likely to survive falling from space if she's in Sonic's arms at the time?
      • Considering that Sonic can survive free-falls from extreme heights, one could assume that if he lands feet-first and everything's fine. Though he does have a habit of falling face-first instead...
  • One-Winged Angel: Gemerl is the True Final Boss of the third game, though granted he changes form for nearly every boss anyway.
  • Oxygen Meter: As is typical of 2D Sonic games.
  • Pinball Zone: Casino Paradise in the first game.
  • Platform Battle: The Egg Chase from Advance 3.
  • The Power of Friendship: The gimmick of the third game.
  • Recurring Boss: The EggHammerTank from Sonic Pocket Adventure appears in both Sonic Advance 1 and 2, and gets a Spiritual Successor in 3.note  There are other throwbacks as well: Advance 2's Techno Base Boss is a improved version of Pocket Adventure's Secret Plant Boss, for example.
    • It also applies across the games themselves: The boss of Cosmic Angel from the first is slightly altered and appears as Chaos Angel's boss from the 3rd. Ocean Base's boss feels like a cross between the bosses of Secret Base in the first game and Egg Utopia in the second game.
  • Ring Out Boss: The boss in the third game's Toy Kingdom Zone.
  • Rise to the Challenge: The boss in Twinkle Snow (in the third game) does this with a bottomless pit. It, along with the Toy Kingdom, Cyber Track and Altar Emerald bosses, are the only boss fights in the trilogy with Bottomless Pits involved.
  • Robotic Reveal: Mecha Knuckles in the first game, halfway through the fight.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: The first game wasn't too challenging, but Advance 2 was a lot more difficult thanks to more difficult bosses, more bottomless pits, and special stages that are almost impossible to access.
  • Shout-Out: In Sonic Advance 2, Tails is kidnapped by Eggman! Now where have we heard this before?
    • For no particular reason, characters 'must stay paired in Sonic Advance 3, which combined with the other gimmick of changeable movesets makes this game a spiritual successor to Knuckles Chaotix. Not to mention Badniks are powered by rings.
    • It is much closer to the Sonic and Tails mode seen in Sonic 2 and Sonic 3.
    • The icons replacing characters' portraits by the life counter in Sonic Advance 3 are a stylistic throwback to the Sonic and Knuckles logo. Selecting Knuckles as the main character and Sonic as the supporting character reconstitutes its horizontally mirrored version.
    • Where have we seen a music level in a SEGA game before?
  • Skyscraper City: Route 99 in the third game. A similar city also appears in Advance 2's Ice Paradise Zone, but is only a background element to an otherwise ordinary ice level.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: All three games feature this kind of zone, the ones in the first (Ice Mountain Zone) and the third (Twinkle Snow) doubling as water levels.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Chaos Angel Act 1 has appropriate music for the setting, but Act 2 is a bit too slow and atmospheric for the action you get, and Act 3's music is way too frantic for the floating platform ride that the level is.
  • Space Zone: The True Final Boss in all three, along with X-Zone from the first, and Egg Utopia and XX from the second.
  • Speed Echoes: Get fast enough in the second and third games, and a doppleganger follows you. The distance between the echo and the character depends on how fast they're moving. Sonic has to be on the team to achieve this in the third game.
  • Spiritual Successor: The first game, to Sonic Pocket Adventure, and the third game, to Knuckles Chaotix.
  • The Starscream: Gemerl, similar to his original, goes berserk from the Emeralds' power and turns on Eggman in the climax of the third game.
  • Sublime/Painful Rhyme: Ice Paradise in the second game.
  • Super Mode: Super Sonic appears in every game to defeat the True Final Boss.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Sonic gets the ability to breathe underwater indefinitely if Cream is his partner in the third game.
  • Super Title 64 Advance
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: If you select Sonic and Knuckles as a team in the third game, both of their expressions are rather uncomfortable and disdainful. "Fighting Buddies" indeed.
  • Temple of Doom: Chaos Angel in the third game. Includes Lift of Doom in Act 3, but there is an alternate route...
  • Tennis Boss: The Cyber Track boss in the third game. The True Final Boss in Advance 2 is also defeated this way.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: All three games, but Advance 3's Chaos Angel goes above and beyond, floating high in the sky, with distorted skies and floating chunks of the planet above the clouds. With fitting doomy music to match.
  • Timed Mission: As first seen in Sonic Pocket Adventure, this series subverts the trope by letting the player disable the time limit at the options screen.
    • Egg Rocket in the first game makes you go up a rocket and gives you five minutes to reach a certain point. When you reach that point, the timer resets and you now have five minutes to reach the next point. This continues until you eventually reach the goal.
  • Title Scream: In the third game. And it is hamtastic. (The title was softly spoken in the second game.)
  • Toy Time: Toy Kingdom in the third game.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: A big complaint for the trilogy, but disproportionately so for some levels.
  • True Final Boss: All three games have one if you collect all 7 Chaos Emeralds in Special Stages.
  • Tube Travel: Secret Base, Egg Rocket, Music Plant, and Ocean Base all have such a gimmick.
  • Under the Sea: Ice Mountain, Ocean Base and Twinkle Snow. Despite the names, Ocean Base has much less underwater platforming than Twinkle Snow does (both are from 3), and Advance 2 foregoes having a water zone entirely, with Leaf Forest Act 1 having a couple of pools of it making up all the water in the game.
  • Underwater Base: Ocean Base in the third game.
  • Underwater Boss Battle: Ice Mountain in the first game.
  • Unwilling Suspension: Tails in Sonic Advance 2, at the boss of Music Plant Zone.
  • Useless Useful Spell: Played mostly straight in 2. When you go into boost mode, you can a special attack that would let you attack while losing a bit of speed and momentum. Most of these attacks were useless because there very rarely are any enemies in your path to use it on and since you're going that fast, you'll likely already be hit or react too late to use it. The only somewhat useful one (fittingly) is Cream's Chao rolling attack, which gives you a split second barrier and attacks enemies while still running. Even still, there are very few points in the game where you'll ever use the attacks.
  • Warm-Up Boss: All three games have their first boss be a mech with a giant hammer that tends to be easy.
  • Wheel o' Feet: Used only with Sonic, and only in the first game.

Alternative Title(s): Sonic Advance, Sonic Advance Series, Sonic Advance 3, Sonic Advance 2