1up.com earlier posted the first screens of Sonic Advance 3 and has now posted Sonic Advance 3 Information:
It’s understandable that Sonic Team doesn’t want to mess with a proven formula. The two Sonic Advance titles already available — both done in the tradition of the Genesis games that built Sonic’s name in the 90s — were major hits on the store shelves, sure, but there really wasn’t much that changed between the two carts. The blue guy and his friends were a little easier to control, they had an odd new special move or two, but that was about it. Even so, however, you’d be hard-pressed to find many people complaining about this — the GBA Sonics are already a masterpieces of GBA platforming, after all.
Sonic Advance 3, due out from THQ and Sonic Team sometime later this year, may help shake up the formula a bit. The newest addition to this sequel is a “partner” system, not unlike what console owners saw in Sonic Heroes a month or so back. When you start a stage in SA3, you’re asked to choose a player character and a partner character from the standard Sonic stable (no new characters this time around — or, at least, Sonic Team hasn’t revealed any yet). You only control one character in each level (the guy you chose as your “player”), but your choice of partners has tangible effects on your avatar’s abilities. Case in point: if you choose Sonic as your player and Tails as your partner, then Sonic will inherit a bit of Tails’ high-jumping capabilities. That sort of thing. This system can give you a fair degree of power over what your character can do — and that, in turn, can open up new routes and access to hidden items in each level.
This partner setup is fully multiplayer-ready, too. Two players with two cartridges and a link cable will be able to play through the entire game in a sort of “co-op” mode, each exploring wholly different parts of each zone at the same time. This mode, of course, is in addition to the usual single- and multi-cartridge subgames that have historically been a staple of the series.
Another new feature (regrettably not shown in this batch of early screenshots) is the Zone Map, a heavily-enhanced version of the 2D maps you selected stages with in the first two Sonic Advances. In SA3, the Zone Map works like an actual, full-sized stage, where you and your partner run around and search for entrances to other stages — a setup that hasn’t been seen in 2D-land for a while. Think of it as a new zone, separate from all the others, and you have the basic idea.
More information on the new portable Sonic will hopefully come shortly, so be patient.