Soapbox features enable our individual writers and contributors to voice their opinions on hot topics and random stuff they've got on their minds. Today, Stuart pleads with the powers that be to get a certain trilogy on Nintendo Switch Online...
Game Boy Advance is coming to Switch Online! Maybe! Almost certainly, anyway! Hopefully. Ahem.
Look, it’s not confirmed, but it’s as good as, which was enough to prompt me to write a diatribe imploring Sega and Nintendo to work out their age-old differences and bring back a nearly-forgotten series of Sonic classics. A renaissance era for 2D Sonic fans. Yes, I am of course talking about the venerable Sonic Advance series. Three games, one tangentially-related fighting RPG thing (Sonic Battle) and some pinball (Sonic Pinball Party).
Those last two don’t figure much into this, though that’s not to say they have nothing to offer – Sonic Battle has a shockingly emotional story for a Sonic game, and Pinball Party is a genuinely good time. It’s the mainline games, though, that I desire most – Sonic Advance, Sonic Advance 2 and… er… (checks Wikipedia) Sonic Advance 3. I mean, come on! They haven’t been re-released — besides an appearance on the Japanese Wii U eShop — since their original bows on GBA cartridge back in 2001, 2002 and 2004 respectively. Yes, I can feel some hardcore Sonic fan poking me in the back about the 2003 N-Gage version of the original game, Sonic N. I know, buddy. Believe me, I’m obsessed too.
Anyway, the games would be a perfect candidate for the rumoured Switch Online service and I pray to the various gaming gods that it happens. While the Sonic Advance series isn’t perfect, I do think it’s a bit brilliant and I’d like to take some time to explain exactly why each of the games are 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 isn’t strictly true – the brilliant Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure for Neo Geo Pocket Color hit that ill-fated system in late 1999. Alright, it’s the first 'high-profile' 2D Sonic game and the first Sonic game on a Nintendo system (alongside Sonic Adventure 2: Battle which launched the same day, December 20th 2001). This was seismic at the time, a true “snowball in Hell” moment for gaming.
But that’s not the point; the point, dear reader, is one that must be expressed as eloquently as possible: Sonic Advance slaps. My friends, this is one heck of a game; it’s not a match for the Mega Drive classics but it’s closer than anyone would dare to admit. The ability to play as Tails and Knuckles with their familiar skills make 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 inclusion – she transforms the game, making it far more difficult and forcing you to approach it much more cautiously. She can’t spin dash and isn’t invulnerable when jumping – but a brace of new hammer-based moves go some way toward making up for that.
The sequel came next year, creatively titled Sonic Advance 2, and is most notable for introducing the disgustingly-named Cream the Rabbit, the latest of Sonic’s pals and a defacto “easy mode” for an already pretty easy game. Her ability to throw her little Chao companion – the also disgustingly-named Cheese – at enemies from almost anywhere on screen made her a cute little death machine.
There’s also a new, and highly divisive, focus on speed. You know the common (and inaccurate) criticism of classic Sonic that it’s simply “hold right to win”? Well, Sonic Advance 2 is probably the closest the series ever came to making that little bon mot a reality. Of course, it isn’t hold right to win, but you are encouraged to go faster than ever before with a prevalence of speed-boost pads, simplified grinding mechanics and the new ability to gain a burst of additional speed when running for an unbroken few seconds. Even the boss battles see you chasing down Robotnik as he accelerates away from you in his latest mecha monstrosity, taking potshots.
It’s difficult to truly love Sonic Advance 2, but if you do fall for its charms, it’ll be your favourite one. The music and visuals are fantastic stuff and – for better or worse – this is probably the hardest Sonic game to get all seven Chaos Emeralds in. You’ll need to, though, to unlock everything. You’ve got to get all Emeralds with each of the four other characters in order to play as Amy, who unfortunately isn’t really worth the effort as she’s been made way less interesting than she was in the original Sonic Advance. Boo! Hiss!
Moving on, then, to Sonic Advance 3, a game so strange that when its ROM file leaked ahead of release, a lot of people assumed it was a fake fan-effort of some sort. See, there’s a lot about Advance 3 that’s a little bit… off. The physics feel like they’ve been tweaked and the game feels a touch weightless at times. It’s also bizarre how the entire pacey structure of the first two titles has been overhauled with a weird, almost labyrinthine hub area that has you exploring empty, uninteresting enemy-free spaces in order to locate the “Act Rings” that lead to each zone; which also now have three acts apiece instead of two, with a fourth boss act found separately in the hub.
So far, so odd, but it’s still a pretty great time. The major new mechanic is team-up moves; at the start of the game you pick two characters from the same cast of five as the previous game, then send them out into the world. This is cool in the way that you can simply leave Sonic behind while, say, Knuckles and Cream go out on the adventure. Since many of the team-up moves (used by holding the 'R' button) are based around propelling you into the air, the levels have an increased verticality and frankly feel absolutely vast. Finding the hidden Chao in each act, then, is a significant challenge to undertake, though it’s more fun than gathering the special rings in Advance 2.
It almost goes without saying that the music here rules; the final zone “Chaos Angel” is ridiculously epic and foreboding at times. The story is sort of an all-over-the-place follow-up to Sonic Battle – ignore it. Treat it as the 21 2D Sonic levels that it is and you’ll be hard pressed not to enjoy yourself.
So again, Nintendo – Sega – whoever – I implore you to make this series available once again, and the Nintendo Switch Online service is the perfect opportunity. 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, Sonic Advance series, yeah? Then the Klonoa games. Then Kururin Paradi— [Snip! - Ed]
I'd much prefer it be a purchasable collection instead like the Castlevania Advance Collection.
Yes...we need this. As fast as Sonic spin-offs and sequels are made, we desperately need this.
Much Sonic for a Nintendo website... I see Sonic more then Mario lately.
Let's wait for GBA games coming to this service to officially be announced first before we start begging for what games to come to the service and whatnot.
I'd much prefer remasters to subscription-based ROM dumps. They need expanded views a la the Sonic genesis remasters (widescreen).
Finally, the conversation we need to be having
Numerous amounts of games should come before this if that’s the thing.
@gojiguy yes. They should make all GBA games run in widescreen. If Nintendo doesn’t bother to do this then no one should play them on Switch.
exactly how i feel.
Though it would be cool if they had enhancements like the widescreen support that origins has.
These games are great (I especially love the first one) and I agree with the vast majority of stuff said here. I'd thrououghly recomend any Sonic fans who haven't played them to check them out, Dimps did an excellent job adding modern 32bit features to the gameplay and they flow brilliantly.
Also, as Stuart said, the inclusion of the other characters from the jump is brilliant and Amy plays great in the first game. I happen to like Cream and Cheese and think the names are cute. I can see why people make rule 34 style jokes about "Cream the Rabbit" but I wish they wouldn't as she's only meant to be 6, and is a very sweet childlike character.
Despite agreeing with the article's opinion on the games, I echo the feeling of others that a purchasable "Advance Collection" (preferably including Battle and Pinball Party) would be far preferable than renting them for a subscription service. An Origins-style remake in Retro Engine would be brilliant but I don't see that happening, when they are less nostalgia headline grabbing than the 16bit titles.
If theres some way to hack the roms or adjust the emulator to play in true 16:9 widescreen to expand the field of view, all the better, though the GBA's 3:2 aspect ratio is at least wider than 4:3 and there is already less "screencrunch" problems than older games as you can see slightly further ahead.
The sad thing about this, this may actually make me consider the expansion pack if GBA games show up (have base subscription for online play), just for a way to play these games without having to rely on my GBA (I still play them on my GBA).
Though, I'd like a collection, either physical or digital, just so I don't need to rely on a subscription. The Sonic Advance games are games I'd like to have instead of rent under a subscription.
Either way, these games should be available to more who want to play them.
Sonic Battle needs to be there too. Different kind-of game but also a Gameboy Advance title.
@AstraeaV I would second Sonic Battle. Friend gave me it as a gift years ago, and that's one game I wish more played. Just a fun fighting game, even if raising Emerl's stats can be a bit grindy.
Great games but the Special Stages and methods for gaining access to them can BLEEP a duck.
@AstraeaV I haven't played that in years. I appreciated the way they used the same Sprites from the Advance games in that.
Nice Smiths reference there Stu.
I still play SA2 every now and then, I really don't think another 2D Sonic game has managed to capture the sense of speed in that game.
Sonic Advance 2 is an unfinished mess.
1 and 3 are ok though. I'd play 'em again.
Sonic Advance was a massive disappointment to me. I was expecting something like the Megadrive Sonics.
@Grumblevolcano : Took the words out of my mouth. While they’re at it, they should throw in the Sonic Rush games from the DS as well (though these will need to be repurposed for a single-screen interface).
I’m not even interested in Sonic, but I would consider physical GBA compilations (if nothing else, LRG would be all over this) even for franchises that I am not particularly crazy about as I miss the general aesthetic and, I suppose, design principles of the handheld games of old.
Give them their own collection. Don’t release them on Nintendo’s mid af overpriced expansion service.
I actually only ever owned sonic advance 2 and 3 so I wouldn’t mind giving the first advance game a try.
I absolutely love the Sonic Advance series. They're top notch games and have a variety of characters to choose from.
Needless article for something not known to exist, but speculated for a year or two now.
Sonic Advance needs a rerelease, Widescreen or not!
make Physicals cart of it.
The problem is less the aspect ratio and more that the resolution is so low for SNES/Genesis style graphics that sprites end up taking a massive part of the screen, this plagued the Mega Man Zero games as well.
@SalvorHardin Sure, this is what I was getting at with my screen crunch comment. Its definitely still there, and could be significantly improved with extra resolution. But its nowhere near as bad as (for example) the Mario Advance series, or the (awful) Sonic Genesis GBA port, as the Advance series sprites were designed specifically for a GBA game from the start, and the level designs and movesets were made to minimise problems. Sorry I've not played the Zero GBA games. Really should try them at some point, I enjoy the 8bit and most of the 16bit titles.
I don't personally feel the Sonic Advance series sprites are too big for the screen, but I agree that a little extra room all round would be nice to make it feel less cramped when on a big screen, and to make it easier to anticipate your surroundings when moving fast. It would be extremely welcome. But if they just did a straight "untouched roms and emulator" style presentation, thats still far better than having these great games be unaccessible.
This problem of a low resolution screen crunch on a handheld is exactly why it triggers me when Sega re-releases the Game Gear versions of the 8bit games when the Master System ones exist and are SO much better suited for big screen play.
It would be great to see the Sonic GBA games!
Out of curiosity, could someone provide a link that discusses the Sonic Advance 3 GBA leak mentioned here? I can't find anything about that
Sonic Battle would be great if it was released as a budget remaster. Everyone was fun to use. Except for Knuckles, he was piss awful in Battle.
The first Sonic Advance is the true Sonic 4, it plays like how it'd expect it, all the moves from Sonic 3 plus melee attacks and a playable Amy that's different from Sonic, Tails and Knuckles.
Sonic Advance 2 and 3 showed where the series was going with a tease of the boost-based gameplay seen first in Sonic Rush.
I'm still angry with SEGA for releasing the trilogy on the Wii U Virtual Console in Japan, but not in the west.
Or, you know, a physical option so I can enjoy it away from the TV.
I've got them on my snes classic
Not gonna happen because Sega gave the publishing rights to the now defunct THQ in western territories. Enjoy the legal quagmire.
Hey fun fact, these are the best Sonic games!
Here's another idea: don't announce another Sonic game or compilation until Sega has released at least 3 to 5 games/compilations from OTHER franchises in its vast catalog. Saturn, Dreamcast, Arcade, it doesn't matter, just STOP focusing on only one IP while letting the rest collect decades of dust. Oh, and how about actually making the effort to do them in-house instead of outsourcing them to dubious results (examples: Panzer Dragoon and House of the Dead Remake)?
My personal Wish List:
1) Shining Force III Remake
2) Skies of Arcadia Remaster
3) Sega Arcade Collection (think the size and scale of BOTH of Capcom's Arcade compilations, from Zaxxon, Congo Bongo, and Pengo through the Model 2 days).
4) Dragon Force Compilation Remaster
6) Panzer Dragoon Saga Remake
I don't mind Sega making a bunch of Sonic games and remakes; I do mind them doing so while ignoring the rest of what once made their company arguably the most prolific and outstanding publishers in the entire industry...along with countless memories for hobbyists lucky enough to experience them.
I'd way rather have Sonic Battle.
I’d be down to play these games for sure! I’ve never played any of them, but I always really liked how the character sprites looked.
I'd love to see Sonic Adventure 1 + 2 on the switch, or any dreamcast game really
Advance 2 is easily my favorite, the design of literally everything is just wonderful, it's definitely one of the most charming of all the Sonic games.
SA3 loosened the controls, but is around as great and straight up epic with the stage designs, Chaos Angel is simply beautiful.
I've played all of them for years, and I wouldn't easily spot a specific game being more difficult or have less platforming, it's all pretty varied, which is why I see them as 1 huge game.
Meh... I prefer doing things the "legally dubious" way.
Rather it be an eshop release if you ask me.
Great!!! Another BEGGAR!!!! BOTW2 is now going to be delayed until 2024 because yall can't find 3-4 different games to play out of the hundreds of thousands available and resort to BEGGING to pay for games you already beat and ALREADY LIKELY own a copy (IF NOT MULTIPLE) of.
Something like this feels like it'd be a separate trilogy release that Sega will inevitably do for all modern platforms. I'd love if we get a GBA Online service on the Switch, and these games were included, but my gut says that's not gonna happen (these games launching on the service that is, not the GBA Online service, i do think that will happen), maybe like Genesis online, one of the three games would be included, but the rest wont in order to encourage players to buy the full collection.
I quite enjoyed Advance 3. The first two games... not so much.
I would LOVE for Sega to do a Sonic Advance Collection, like how Capcom & Konami have re-released several of their Game Boy/Advance library in recent years, probably as a sequel to their upcoming Sonic Origins Collection.
But I think that they'll probably show up on NSO first, and then the 2nd Sonic Origins Collection will likely focus on Sonic's Game Gear titles (Sonic 1 & 2 8-bit, Chaos, Triple Trouble, Blast, etc.), which I'd be okay with since I think those games are good under their own merits.
I also really hope ends up they also do a port of Sonic Pocket Adventure for Switch/Steam like they've been doing with other Neo Geo Pocket Color games, because that's one of the few Sonic games I don't have, and I'd love to get a copy of it.
I have Sonic Advance 3 myself, and had a blast. I'd be down to play it on the Switch, along with the other two Sonic Advance games.
@-Pman Add me on 3ds my code is 1719=3434 1690 or anyone else who wants
I’m not against it but they’re all pretty meh games.
If you don't like flashcarts then I think all three of these cartridges are still available for very reasonable prices. Also don't forget Sonic Battle!
I never played SA3 to much extent (I ended up buying a bootleg off eBay instead of a proper version...it was 2004, don't judge me) but from what I remember of the first two these were pure Sonic, how modern 2D Sonic games should be. Before they went with the 3D sprites in Sonic Rush and added a boost gauge. Before they tried to put Colour Powers into a handheld version, or the numerous handheld releases of 3D console games. And of course before we had the monster that was Sonic 4. Probably the last time we had pure side scrolling Sonic with no gimmicks.
Often forgotten about regarding Sonic games. Other than the original trilogy, amongsy the very best Sonic games of all time.
Always wanted to like Sonic games... Never did.
I enjoy Mario for the good level designs, exploration, tight controls, and slower pace. Sonic has none of that from what I can tell.
@StuTwo You're complaining about nothing, all GBA games are already in wide-screen, the back of the box says so. All Switch had to do was upscale it to HD 1080p with better filter or something. In fact Sonic Advance was the first ever 2D Sonic game to be play in wide-screen, only thing is the wide-screen isn't a proper 16:9 like modern tv. The screen for the GBA is not 4:3 like the original GB, GBP, and GBC, this is why if you play original Game Boy or Game Boy Color games on GBA they could be play in original 4:3 with black border on each side or stretch to fill the screen due to the GBA's native wide-screen aspect.
Haven't played these in 14 years. I very much prefer Sonic Advance rather than 2 & 3.
@reporterdavid Sir, I'm afraid Nintendo and Sega stopped being enemies 20 years ago.
Rather then simply porting the roms, they desperately need to properly rereleased as a collection. Many of the issues I have with these games could have been fixed with a larger native resolution.
The amount of screen real-estate the genesis provided to see surrounding level design was a little over twice as much as the GBA, as a result, I feel like playing the Sonic Advance games to be cramped in comparison. Doesn't help these games have a lot more bottomless pits than the Genesis games do.
Yes Id be massively down for this. I agree thst jd rather a collection with that battle game included though.
@Kevember i know. just saying. more sonic then mario.
I'd rather they released a GBA mini console. They could call it the Gameboy Micro.
@AzzyC is Sega working on BOTW2? is there only one team at Nintendo?
Loved Sonic Advance series and Pinball Party. This is not mentioned enough, but in my opinion the music for the games (created by Sega’s Wave Master) are catchy and top notch, especially for Pinball Party where they managed to faithfully recreate many NiGHTS and Burning Rangers’ music into the weaker GBA hardware.
Imagine all the hype if this were to happen and then Nintendo's just like: "Nah, have this obscure game on the GBA no one gave a ***** about."
@vicviper001 Same here, mate.
❗️I already have these CIB on GBA so not interested.
I only want GC Games and even then, the Licensed or Third-party ones, such as:
🔸️Mario Kart: Double Dash
🔸️both 'True Crime' Games
🔸️both 'Need For Speed: Underground' Games
🔸️both 'Conflict: Desert Storm' Games
🔸️007: Agent Under Fire
🔸️007: Everything Or Nothing
🔸️Metroid Prime 1
@Pigeon thanks. I was actually curious if any entries in the series were more mario-esque and less muscle memory. Haha
@reporterdavid To be fair, there's a lot of news regarding Sonic lately. Not a lot about Mario, except for the movie delay.
@Kevember you are right
From what I've heard, THQNordic said that the rights have gone back to Sega already back in 2019.
Not to mention the Advance Trilogy has been rereleased on Wii U in Japan, so there's nothing stopping them from rereleasing the games there, at the very least.
That said, I doubt THQ would want to or be in any actual position to block any sort of rerelease to begin with, since they seem to have rereleasing/remastering older games as a big part of their current catalogue, and because they don't have any ownership of Sonic to begin with.
Sidenote: I'm sort of thinking about importing a Japan region Wii U so I can get the digital versions of the Advance trilogy, though that'll depend on whether or not I can get a decent price for it.
@DM7Dust Do you have a source for that.
And yes, Sega can release it in Japan because THQ only had the publishing rights in western regions i.e. they paid for the release. FYI, THQ (now known as the embracer group) just bought a ton of studios and IPs for 300 million USD. They could totally cockblock Sega if they wanted to...But I doubt it. More than likely, Sega doesn't want to pay Embracer to get the rights back...Just like with the Sonic 3 music.
I'm thinking what could be holding Sega back as to re-releasing the games is 1: having issues getting GBA emulation to work with modern hardware, and 2: not really seeing it as worth the effort profit-wise since GBA games can be easily emulated on PC and mobile, and since re-releases of the Genesis games (and Mania) sell well enough on their own.
Though that didn't stop Konami and Capcom from re-releasing GBA games on multiple systems, and M2 worked with Sega on various ports, so I do think an Advance Collection is possible, I'm just thinking Sega's probably waiting on how well Origins goes before any future plans are made for re-releases.
If that is true then the simple answer is Sega doesn't have anyone for the job. Remember, the only reason we got the remasters of Sonic 1, 2, CD, 3, &K is due to Christian Whitehead approaching Sega with his engine and knowhow.
Unless they actually have someone/a dev who can remake the Sonic Advance trilogy, the best you'll get is Nintendo Online emulated versions (assuming the THQ Spokesman wasn't wrong). Guess we'll wait and see.
I have zero interest in rom dumps. Please remaster these games. Advance 2 and 3 would greatly benefit from a widescreen view as the level design is very flawed, especially 3's.
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