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Video Game / Sonic Advance Trilogy
aka: Sonic Advance

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Sega's celebrity hedgehog makes his Nintendo debut in a hyperkinetic epic that looks like classic Sonic but has made the quantum leap to brand-new cool.

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 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.

The Sonic Advance trilogy provides examples of:

  • Air-Dashing: In 3, teaming up Sonic with Cream gives Sonic a move similar to the Homing Attack, which can be used without a target to simply dash forward.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: To keep a player from getting too confused, Sonic Advance 3 tells you which acts have Chao that you're missing if you look in the Chao Garden of the Sonic Factory.
  • 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.
  • Balance, Power, Skill, Gimmick: The first game of the trilogy has a unique variant of this. Sonic is the balanced option, being the fastest and least gimmicky of the playable characters; Knuckles is the power, with more attack options like a three-punch combo and a glide ability which can attack anything that hits his fists; Tails is the skill, with his flying and swimming abilities giving him the most exploration ability of all the characters; Amy is the gimmick, as she cannot spin like the boys and must use her hammer to attack enemies and maneuver.
  • Balloonacy: When teamed up with Tails or Cream in the third game, Amy can pull out a pair of balloons in midair, though they only slow her descent and give no lift.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • Big Bad: Eggmman serves as this in all three games.
  • 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 (again, the Boss Rush bosses only take half the hits they originally required).
  • 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.
  • Breaking Old Trends: Advance 3 doesn't begin with the Green Hill Zone or end with Space Zone like in the standard Sonic game. Instead, the first level is a Metropolis Level, with the game's own Green Hill Zone serving as the second level, and The Very Definitely Final Dungeon is an Eldritch Location.
  • Casino Park: Casino Paradise.
  • Character Select Forcing:
    • Clearing the third act of every even-numbered zone in the third game (Sunset Hill, Toy Kingdom, & Cyber Track) unlocks Knuckles, Amy and Cream, respectively — but only if you're playing as Sonic. Players that prefer playing as Tails could play through the entire game without ever seeing these unlockable characters until they appear in the credits sequence.
    • Accessing the True Final Boss in Advance 3 also requires that you defeat the penultimate boss with Sonic in the lead. Anyone else simply gives Eggman a Disney Villain Death and gets the regular ending.
  • Clumsy Copyright Censorship: The 2011 Android port replaces the remix of the Invincibility theme from Sonic 1 with the game's intro theme, and the Sonic 1 and 2 boss remixes in X-Zone with boss songs from Sonic the Hedgehog 4 due to the rights to the music from Sonic 1 and 2 being owned by Dreams Come True and meaning Sega has to pay royalties to them every time they use the songs.
  • Collapsing Ceiling Boss: The first game's Egg Spider's sole attack is to drill into the ice ceiling and make stalactites fall on the player's head. These stalactites must be used as platforms to reach the machine and bop it.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: The playable characters actually grow impatient and start scolding you if you leave them idle in Advance 1.
  • Continuity Nod: Angel Island Zone in Advance 1 takes place in the setting of Sonic 3 & Knuckles and part of Sonic Adventure, which was shown by the latter to be situated in the sky above Mystic Ruins. The level's background here shows the land below, and sure enough, it looks just like Mystic Ruins' jungle, even containing a Mayincatec structure resembling the Lost World temple from Adventure.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: In addition to the usual race-style multiplayer the previous games had, Sonic Advance 3 takes advantage to its pair up based gameplay to have a co-op mode where a second player can run through a level individually controlling the paired up character.
  • 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.
    • The character you choose as a partner in 3 can drastically change how the main character plays in a way that can take some getting used to.
    • Despite the physics of the game being a close replica of those of the Classic games, there's still a few minor differences that can make it feel off for those who have mainly played the Genesis games. Most notably, the characters feel more weighty than they do in the Classic Sonic games, taking longer to get to top speed and the jump arcs lasting far shorter, making it easy to throw off those expecting lighter physics like the old games.
  • Dark Reprise:
    • 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.
    • The theme of the third game's boss theme and 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.
  • Demoted to Extra: Amy Rose doesn't show up at all in any cutscene from Sonic Advance 2. She's relegated to being a secret character, and doesn't even show up in the character select screen at first.
  • Disney Villain Death: In Advance 3, defeating Eggman at Chaos Angel without triggering the True Final Boss will lead to your main character jumping and hitting Eggman's vehicle as he tries to escape, which goes down in flames into a pit while travelling offscreen. Gemerl then shakes his head at your duo before jumping in after him.
  • Down the Drain: Ocean Base in the third game.
  • Drop the Hammer:
    • Amy still carries around her usual mallet to strike down enemies with. When paired up with Knuckles in 3, she also uses a massive hammer, bigger than she is, for her standard attack.
    • In 3, teaming up any character with Amy will replace their normal grounded attack with a hammer modeled after the one Amy uses, but with a color scheme based on the character wielding it. Tails can also use his while flying, and can fly much faster while holding it.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: In the third game, Eggman's plan starts with him splitting the world into seven pieces.
  • Enemy Mine: In the third game, Super Sonic and Eggman team up for the True Final Boss, fittingly titled "Nonaggression", after Gemerl turns renegade and claims the Chaos Emeralds for himself.
  • Equippable Ally: Advance 3 has Tag Actions done by holding R, where your teammate jumps into your character's hands and uses their abilities to help your character.
  • 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: 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.
  • Fake Difficulty: Sonic Advance 2 and Sonic Advance 3 are loaded with level design tricks and trial-and-error habits designed to frustrate the player:
    • There are numerous bits of cheap obstacle placement, like crushing blocks that come off screen to kill you after you were boosted into a wall, Bottomless Pits that you either can't see coming until it's too late or constantly have to be on the watch for because the entire level is loaded with them and chances to unfairly fall or get knocked into them (Sky Canyon, Cyber Track and Chaos Angel's third act are especially bad about this), etc. Making matters worse is that the small screen size combined with the high speeds means you'll take a lot of cheap hits unless you know what you're doing. Making matters worse is that checkpoints are much more scarce than in other Sonic installments.
    • Compounding this is the cheap enemy placement, such as enemies right above springs, enemies shooting at you off-screen hitting you off a platform they're edge guarding, and the enemies being small and hard to hit consciously (as opposed to just blindly running into them) due to their inconsistent hitbox detection. Like with the obstacles, the small screen and high speeds are not conductive to you fighting against them without memorization.
    • The bizarre physics don't help, either—the characters get more acceleration from jumping than from running, which makes it very, very easy to overshoot a jump or slide off a platform while trying to halt your momentum, and makes it easy to accidentally crash into the aforementioned obstacles and enemies.
    • Even the first game isn't totally free of this. Egg Rocket Zone and Cosmic Angel Zone have very cheap enemy placement, the former has bits where one slip up will send you falling way back down the level (and remember, the time limit is split in half for each part, so every second counts), and setpieces full of leaps of faith which can easily send you flying right into an offscreen spike or enemy.
  • Fastball Special: In 3, Knuckles' tag action when the player is on the ground has their character pick up Knuckles and chuck him forward.
  • 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.
  • Flunky Boss: The Egg Cube in Toy Kingdom spews out a bunch of toy soldiers at random intervals and uses Gemerl as a bomb and mace. After pushing the machine back far enough to initiate the "Pinch" music, the soldiers start coming out at a much faster pace.
  • Friendly Fire: In 2, Sonic has to destroy the robot boss holding his friends hostage. He manages to save Cream and Tails by destroying the robots holding them. For Knuckles, however, who was sealed inside the robot, Sonic destroys said robot, but burns Knuckles in the process. Knuckles chases Sonic in anger for this.
  • Frigid Water Is Harmless: Ice Mountain Zone and Twinkle Snow, respectively in the first and third games, which are both half-underwater and allow Sonic to swim freely in the icy water.
  • 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. Fortunately, Sonic Pinball Party, which also features this minigame, does not have this glitch.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: In Advance 3, in the cutscene preceding the True Final Boss, Sonic gets hit twice, and even if he has no Rings, he's none the worse for wear.
  • "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!:
    • Sky Canyon in the second game is almost as infamous for this as Carnival Night Zone's "Barrel of Doom", as there is a specific moment where it is mandatory to use an R-Button trick to get through part of the level as Sonic, a move you'll only know how to do if you read the manual.
    • 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.
    • Unlocking characters in 3. Unlocking a character requires the player to beat certain levels with Sonic as the leader (Sunset Hill Act 3, Toy Kingdom Act 3 and Cyber Track Act 3). However, there is no clear indication that the player needs to be Sonic in order to unlock everyone, so the player could go through the game with Tails as the leader and reach the end without unlocking anybody else.
    • As mentioned in Back That Light Up, 3 offers multiple color suited for the Game Boy Advance, the SP and the Game Boy Player, but the most the manual hints at that is mentioning that the R button adjusts color settings. That you do this on the title screen is entirely up to the player to figure out on their own.
  • 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 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. Her skills allow her to completely trivialize some bosses. For example, the underwater fight in Ice Mountain by high jumping to the top of the screen (and catching a breath) and smacking Eggman on the way down.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Hot Crater Zone in the second game is claimed to be one, but it's only indicated by the name and the warm glow of the background scenery - the player encounters no lava whatsoever in the actual stage. Played straight in Secret Base Zone of Advance, on the other hand.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Knuckles is tricked into fighting Sonic again by Eggman in Sonic Advance 2, becoming the pilot of the boss machine in Sky Canyon when you're playing as Sonic for the first time. This only happens when you reach this boss (the Egg Saucer) as Sonic for the first time; if you reach this boss as any other character or you replay it as Sonic after beating Knuckles and unlocking him, the machine will have Eggman himself in the cockpit like all of the boss rush bosses and will use the standard boss theme.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Beating 2's final boss causes Egg Utopia to fall and explode. Strange though, given said boss is fought in XX Zone, which is shown on the map to be a separate space station to Egg Utopia.
  • Long Song, Short Scene:
    • You're likely to blaze through X-Zone in Sonic Advance and reach the bosses before you hear even 10 seconds of what's a 90 second song. This is likely why XX in Sonic Advance 2 is one long song throughout the entire zone up until the final boss.
    • Sonic Advance 2 has the two tracks that play when Vanilla is kidnapped, and Sonic turns into his Super form. The theme of "True Area 53" is a Boss Remix of those two songs.
    • Sonic Advance 3 has the two songs used in the cutscene that plays before the True Final Boss, EX Demo 1 and EX Demo 2. The former is an extended version of the song that plays in the intro cutscene, while the latter is a Triumphant Reprise of the opening theme used for Super Sonic's transformation scene. The former song has more than a minute to it, but only plays for about 18 seconds and gets interrupted by the latter song, which plays for about 22 seconds before being cut off by the level completing, despite being roughly twice as long as the scene it's used for. Fortunately, if you want to hear them in full, they both exist in the Sound Test.
  • 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.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter: Given the precedent for playable characters to mostly play like Sonic, Amy mixes things up in Advance 1 by a significant degree simply by being unable to curl up into a ball at all. In order to damage enemies she has to manually attack with her hammer, and instead of a spin dash she simply does a quick hop forward. She is brought more in line with everyone else in Advance 2 and then regains some of her unique attributes in Advance 3, even passing them on to the other characters if she is chosen as a partner.
  • Metropolis Level: Sonic Advance 3 opens with Route 99, a colourful highway littered with obstacles, with numerous modern skyscrapers filling the background.
  • Mini-Me: If Cream is equipped as a sidekick in Advance 3, using her Tag Action will temporarily transform Cheese the Chao's appearance to resemble the character that's partnered with Cream. For Sonic, he becomes blue with spines and ears; for Tails, he turns yellow and gains ears, outwards-poking hair strands, and two tails; for Knuckles, he changes to red and gains Knuckles' hair and white chest marking; and for Amy, he turns pink and gains her hair and ears.
  • 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.
    • In a more obscure case in the same installment, the boss of Angel Island Zone, Mecha Knuckles – who isn't even shown to be a robot until later into the fight – is pink and has yellow gloves and socks, seemingly in reference to how in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Knuckles has pinkish fur and yellow socks for some reason when appearing as an NPC in cutscenes, even though when playable, he has red fur and green socks just as portrayed by artwork.
    • In Sonic Advance 2, Tails is rescued from Dr. Eggman in Music Plant Zone, calling back to his own venture into music.
  • 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 while the first and second games had strategy guides published 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 for that one.
  • 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.
    • Angel Island from Advance 1 and Chaos Angel from Advance 3 are set in the same Angel Island from 3 and Adventure.
    • Sunset Hill in Advance 3 is what Green Hill became after Eggman's reality warping experiments at the beginning of the game. Oddly enough, despite playing Green Hill's theme song it has nothing that evokes the original Green Hill in its level design and instead is reminiscent of Neo Green Hill and Angel Island from Advance 1.
  • 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.
  • 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 Chaser from Advance 3. This one had Sonic and co. jumping up a series of platforms that fall under them, and the goal is to get the platforms to drop onto Eggman. He was equipped with a spiked ball and chain that could cause you to lose your balance, and missing a jump meant falling into a bottomless pit (the pit goes away when the Egg Chaser is destroyed).
  • 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.
  • Revisiting the Roots: The Advance games are heavily based on the Genesis trilogy of old, albeit with a few minor physics tweaks thanks to the Game Boy Advance's hardware.
  • Ring-Out Boss: The boss in the third game's Toy Kingdom Zone, the Egg Cube. This one does not have a health meter; you just have to keep hitting Eggman and his cockpit when it's exposed to push him and the machine into a bottomless pit.
  • 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.
  • Screen Crunch: Sonic N was a victim of the N-Gage's vertically oriented screen—you can barely see ahead of Sonic making the whole game one giant Luck-Based Mission. There is an option to letterbox the screen allowing you to see more but it's too small to make anything out, making it useless.
  • Secret Character:
    • Amy Rose has become this in Advance 2. Only becoming playable after completing and collecting the 7 Chaos Emeralds with all 4 characters.
    • Knuckles, Amy and Cream in Advance 3 can only be playable after beating Act 3 of Sunset Hill, Toy Kingdom and Cyber Track as Sonic specifically.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Sound Test: All three games feature one in their respective Options menus. The first game has it available from the beginning (with extra tracks unlocked after beating the True Final Boss), the second game has it unlockable by beating the game with all Chaos Emeralds for two characters, and the third game has it unlockable by beating the Final Boss.
  • 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 afterimages follow 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.
  • Stationary Boss: The final boss of the main game in Sonic Advance 2 is a giant robot that stays on the right of the room that fires its arms and shoots lasers from its eyes. It won't move; the player has to use rising platforms to reach and smack the bot in the head.
  • The Starscream: Gemerl, similar to his original, goes berserk from the Emeralds' power and turns on Eggman in the climax of the third game.
  • Stealth Sequel: Advance 3 to Sonic Battle, since the game reuses more than a few tracks from the latter and features a reincarnated Emerl as Eggman's right-hand man and ultimately concludes his story arc as he's reprogrammed to his old self in the game's true ending.
  • 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: A trademark of the Game Boy Advance was to give the "Advance" title to the games themselves. All three games do this.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: Ice Mountain Zone in the first game. In that boss battle, Dr. Robotnik's only attack in the underwater battle is to drop ice spikes from the ceiling, which allows Sonic to get additional air or in range of making attacks.
  • 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. Surprisingly this does not apply to Eggman, who encourages Super Sonic to use tag action to help defeat the True Final Boss.
  • 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 Egg Pinball, where you must hit its projectiles and hope they bounce back into Eggman (he speeds up his shots with every hit he takes). The True Final Boss in Advance 2 is also defeated this way.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Cosmic Angel in 1, Egg Utopia in 2, and Chaos Angel in 3, 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.
  • This Is a Drill: The Egg Spider found in Ice Mountain Zone in 1 is equipped with a drill and drills the ceiling to make ice stalactites fall on the player. The player must use the stalactites to reach and hit the machine.
  • 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: Probably the biggest fault of the Advance trilogy. Later stages in the games are infamous for abusing 'gotcha' traps that are impossible to see coming. While the original Genesis games could be guilty of this to a degree, Advance abuses such traps in its final stages that one will become wary of ever trusting a spring/boost pad.
  • True Final Boss: All three games have one if you collect all 7 Chaos Emeralds in the Special Stages. The games all have Sonic become Super Sonic for these fights. The first two games pit Sonic against a large robot and a shooting/sucking machine, respectively, but the third game features a Super Sonic/Eggman team-up against Ultimate Gemerl.
  • Tube Travel: Secret Base, Egg Rocket, Music Plant, and Ocean Base all have such a gimmick.
  • Turns Red:
    • The first Egghammer in Neo Green Hill Zone Act 2 is simple, but once Eggman's down to one hit, he'll use the hammer to propel his machine into the air and use it as a hammer.
    • After delivering 6 hits to the Egg Press in Secret Base, Eggman will jump off the top of the screen. Be ready to spindash and jump when he comes down, as not only will he track the player, but he'll make the ground shake when he lands, which will damage the player if they are not in the air.
    • After taking enough hits, the Egg Spider will start drilling down more stalactites, with the robot dropping four when it's down to one hit.
    • After hitting Mecha Knuckles 4 times in Angel Island, he explodes, his synthetic skin comes off Terminator-style, and he starts firing homing missiles in addition to using punching attacks.
    • The Ice Paradise boss in 2 begins dropping its bombs at a faster rate after 4 hits.
    • There are two targets on the Egg Saucer in Sky Canyon: the cockpit, and a laser turret. Destroying the turret will cause the main hand to become more frantic when it attacks.
    • The boss of Sunset Hill in 3, once it's down to one hit, will just roll around the arena rather than back and forth.
    • After delivering 4 hits to the Egg Gravity in Chaos Angel, Eggman will start spinning his machine around with each subsequent hit until the last one, which destroys the machine.
  • 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: The fight against Eggman in the first game's Ice Mountain has your character submerged in water that reaches near the top of the screen, while Eggman, from up top, periodically causes icicles to fall into the water. After falling, they embed in the floor temporarily, allowing your character to use their flat tops to get extra height for both precious air and a chance to smack Eggman's machine.
  • 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, Sonic N