No sooner had Dimps accomplished the very nice Sonic Advance for the GBA, that Sonic Team announce that a sequel was in the works, and is nearly ready for release. This must have meant that Sonic Team has been working on this game for some considerable time if this’ll be released by Christmas, which is what the development company are indeed promising.
Of course, the only place that has any info at all about the game is the Japanese Sonic Advance 2 website of Sonic Team themselves, the cheeky monkeys… It’s clear that, with the amount of info given on the website, that Sonic Team are keeping the game close to their chests. But we do know a few things.
The graphical advancements from the original GBA Sonic outing can be clearly seen in these screens we snatched. The sprites seem to be unchanged, except in a video we saw of the game in action we noticed Sonic’s running movements have been altered.
If you remember back to Sonic Advance, when you got Sonic up to running speed, he’d do a weird sort of movement which seemed to be a cross between his Sonic Adventure running posture, and his classic Sonic Mega Drive running animations (with the spinning feet and all). This was probably the only thing I’d comment about in the sprites department – having Sonic run like that was all too weird.
But in the Sonic Advance 2 video the blue blur’s running animations are pretty much superb – he streamlines whenever you hit 100 Miles over the speed limit, and the camera moves forward, Sonic CD style, to imitate Sonic running faster than he really is, and to see what’s ahead of our hero.
While we’re on the subject of the speed, Sonic Team reckon they got it sussed this time. Sonic Advance was only fast in a satisfactory sense – when you did a Spin Attack down the very steep slope in Act 1 of Neo Green Hill Zone, for example. According to the rubbish translation of the website, “Sonic runs at the speed you have not seen still at one time!”. Obviously this means that Sonic’ll move like greased weasel turd when the game is ready for us to play. Nicely. Sonic is also seen with a kick-ass flashy animation-y thing to emphasise the rolling slide that you can make him do in the original Sonic Advance.
Only three levels have been announced by the Team of Sonic, screenshots of which are laid here for you to take a gander at. The first level, all green in Sonic style, is called ‘Leaf Forest Zone’, and it seems to be the starting point – where Eggman’s robots swarm in to take over the world. Again. Like all of Sonic’s first levels, it looks like a nice game-opener, and nothing too difficult to dash through. The second stage, which looks slightly like Lava Reef Zone coupled with Secret Base Zone from the original Sonic Advance, is titled ‘Hot Crater Zone’. As always, expect lava antics aplenty here. The last level mentioned is called ‘Music Plant Zone’, and is reminiscent of another Sonic Team classic, Ristar (Planet Sonata, fourth level).
A good place to round this Preview State off is the setup of the game screen. Most notably, this game setup is particularly odd. In previous Sonic games, the Timer, Score and Ring Count have all been together, in the top left corner. This time, the Ring Count and Score are on the left together (albeit with a more snazzier look to them) and the Timer has been moved to a more noticeable place at the top of the game screen.
We’re wondering why this is. Maybe some aspects of Sonic Advance 2 involve a Time Limit, or some levels are time-based. Or maybe these screenshots are part of a Time Attack mode. The Lives icon has been changed, which doesn’t sound like much, but take a closer look – the Lives Icons are all simplified back to Classic Sonic style faces, rather than Sonic Adventure generation faces. Maybe this is an insight into a return of a more classic style Sonic that we all grew up with and loved as a child?
Another interesting, more intriguing part of the game screen is the mysterious placement of small golden spheres just below the player’s Score. Nothing has been said of what they are meant to be for, but if we were to have a guess… us lot at ‘Stadium Towers reckon that there is an element of the game where there are certain robots to destroy before completing the level (or some other such similar goal), and the golden spheres are there to keep track of how many robots or whatever you have to destroy or reach.
That might be an interesting twist to the Sonic games – making sure that Sonic and friends will take the time to free all the trapped animals encased in robotic junk, rather than ‘boshing’ a few badniks, and skipping to the end of the Act. However, maybe a system like this may be too demanding of the purist Sonic player. They may just want to reach the end of the stage like always, they may not want to contend with an extra aim. I’m not saying these spheres are meaning an extra goal, but it’s just our rugged opinion.
Looking forward to seeing how this game shapes up! Stay with TSS for the latest information!