Sonic Advance 3[a] is a 2004 platform video game developed by Dimps and published by Sega and THQ for the Game Boy Advance. It is part of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, and the sequel to Sonic Advance 2. The game stars the characters Sonic, Tails, Amy, Knuckles, and Cream as they seek to keep Doctor Eggman and his robot assistant Gemerl from building empires on each of seven chunks Eggman has divided the Earth into.
The game is a fast-paced 2D platformer that takes place across seven zones, each divided into three acts and a boss fight. It allows one or two players to control any two of the five characters; each one has different abilities that allow players varying access to parts of levels. While the graphics are mainly 2D, the game features some 3D rotation effects. It sold quickly upon release and received positive reviews from critics, who praised its gameplay and aesthetics, though they were more divided on the team-up dynamic. The game was later released for the Wii U’s Virtual Console in Japan in May 2016.
Cream the Rabbit (with Cheese the Chao) and Knuckles the Echidna both rise through a passageway in the seventh level, Chaos Angel: Cream by flying and Knuckles by climbing. Heads-up display features clockwise from bottom left: lives remaining, an icon reminding the player of Knuckles’ R-button power, rings collected, and time elapsed.
Similarly to Sonic Advance 1 and 2 before it, Advance 3 is a fast-paced 2D platformer. The player controls one of five characters simultaneously with a second one as a sidekick; alternately, a second player joins and one controls each character. The two characters run and jump through a series of seven levels, destroying robots along the way. The player collects rings in levels and boss battles as a form of health: upon being hit by an enemy or harmful obstacle, the player’s rings will scatter and can be recollected. Being hit while carrying no rings, being crushed by an obstacle, or falling into a bottomless pit causes death; running out of lives incurs a game over screen.
The levels contain features like vertical loops, springs, and rails that the player can grind on. Each level is divided into three acts, punctuated by a boss fight with Doctor Eggman at the end; all three acts, the boss fight, and two minigames that grant the player extra lives are bound by a hub world. Within each act, the player collects Chao creatures; finding 10 in all 3 acts in one zone grants the player access to a special stage, where a Chaos Emerald can be found. Collecting all seven Chaos Emeralds, which can be done after completion of the main campaign, allows the player to fight an extra final boss for the game’s true ending.
The player can select any two-member permutation of its five playable characters: Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails, Amy Rose, Knuckles the Echidna, and Cream the Rabbit, provided the two desired characters have been unlocked; only Sonic and Tails are available at the beginning, while the other three must be rescued from Eggman over the course of the game. Each character has a unique ability: Sonic can perform a spinning attack in mid-air, Tails can fly using his two tails as a propeller, Amy can smash enemies with her hammer, Knuckles can glide long distances and climb walls, and Cream can fly using her ears as wings and attack enemies with her Chao friend, Cheese. The second player character can also give powers to the first by pressing the R button; for example, pressing and holding R while Tails is the sidekick blasts both characters into the air. In addition, the second character will collect rings and destroy enemies the first has not. Outside the main game, there are two battle modes for two to four players, in which any of the characters can be selected: racing and Chao collecting