Space World 2001 Hands-onSonic Advance

Sonic and the gang hit the Game Boy Advance.

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A 70-percent complete build of Sonic Advance for the GBA was on hand at Space World to let players get a taste of Sonic's latest portable adventure. Surprisingly, the game differs radically from the last title, which appeared on the NeoGeo Pocket Color. The new game feels like the old 2D Sonic games with heavy influences from his Dreamcast outings. The game structure owes a bit to Sonic Adventure in that it offers a roster of playable characters--Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy. Each character has a special move: Sonic's spin dash, Tails' ability to fly, Knuckles' glide, and Amy's hammer attack. The levels are basically the same for each character, but their individual abilities give them different ways to get through. The character sprites are modeled after the Sonic Adventure character designs, and they're large and detailed. In addition, they all sport a great deal of subtle animation. Sonic's quills wave as he runs, and during his jumps, a great deal of transitional animation keeps the movement smooth. A new grab move allows the gang to catch poles and pull themselves up.

The level we played, which was set in a beach area, offered classic Sonic gameplay, emphasizing speed and ring collecting. Enemies, in keeping with the level's theme, included crabs and sand flies. A boss level had you facing off against Dr. Robotnik in a car that went across the screen, swinging a giant hammer as it passed. The control was tight and responsive, and the action was suitably fast. The sound in the game was typical Sonic, although the level music didn't quite capture the feel of classic Sonic tunes. Still, the game should defintiely be one to watch for as it heads toward the States.

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