The Tiny Chao Garden is a gameplay feature available in Sonic Advance, Sonic Advance 2, and Sonic Pinball Party. It is also downloadable from Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut, Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, and Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II.
The Tiny Chao Garden allows compatibility between the Game Boy Advance and the Nintendo GameCube to transfer various Chao-related gameplay data across specific games between both consoles via the Nintendo GameCube - Game Boy Advance link cable.
Similar to the Dreamcast's Chao Adventure, Tiny Chao Garden allows the player to transfer Chao between the GameCube games Sonic Adventure 2: Battle or Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut and the Game Boy Advance games Sonic Advance, Sonic Advance 2 or Sonic Pinball Party.
In Sonic Advance, the Tiny Chao Garden is unlocked by default. In Sonic Advance 2, it is unlocked once the player completes the game with any character while collecting all seven Chaos Emeralds. The player can transfer Chao from their GameCube console game to their Game Boy Advance using the Chao Transporter in the Chao Garden, although only one can be saved in the Game Boy Advance game at a time.
- Store - By pressing the L button, the player can access the store where they can buy fruit, toys, and Chao Eggs using rings earned either in the main game, or in the minigames. The fruit and eggs can be transferred to Sonic Adventure 2: Battle and Sonic Adventure DX. The Tiny Chao Garden has special-colored Jewel eggs, and is the only place to buy these and Normal Chao eggs, which are free.
- Minigames - The two Game Boy Advance icons at the top right of the screen allows the player to play minigames, which allow the player to earn rings to spend on items for their Chao. The first (white GBA) minigame varies between games, but the second (purple GBA) minigame is always a memory match minigame.
- Stats - On the right side of the screen, the statistics of your Chao are displayed. These stats include:
- Name - The name of the Chao. You can change it by clicking here.
- Age - This space will either say Child, Normal, Swim, Fly, Run, Power or Chaos depending on the Chao's age. Chao do not age in the Tiny Chao Garden, so this will not change unless they are uploaded to one of the Sonic Adventure series of games to age there.
- Mood - How happy your Chao is. If your Chao's mood and belly are kept empty for a long time, it may run away. The mood decreases over time, and can be raised by petting the Chao, or by feeding it certain fruits. Mood decreases quicker if you let the garden fill up with weeds.
- Belly - How full your Chao is. Fruit will raise either one or two belly units. If its belly is full, your Chao will not eat fruit. It decreases over time and if it is starving its name will change to HUNGRY.
- Swim, Fly, Run, Power, Stamina - These are your Chao's ability stats. Although you cannot see the exact points per stat like in Sonic Adventure, you can see the level of each stat. These can be influenced with fruit.
- Rings - How many rings you have. They can be spent in the store for eggs and fruit.
- Dialogue - Occasionally, your Chao will speak to you. Its dialogue is random, but is usually influenced by its mood.
There are two different versions of the Tiny Chao Garden, with minor changes between them.
Included in Sonic Advance, and downloadable via Sonic Adventure 2: Battle and Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II, the first version of the Tiny Chao Garden includes basic Chao care.
Included in Sonic Advance 2 and Sonic Pinball Party, and downloadable via Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut, your Chao can now Swim and Fly if it has high enough stats to, and will emit Z's when sleeping.
The first minigame varies between games:
- Janken - Included with Sonic Advance and Sonic Adventure 2: Battle. Several cards with either Rock, Paper, or Scissors hand gestures on them fly around your Chao. Three similar cards are on the bottom screen. You earn rings by shooting the cards at the bottom into the cards flying around your Chao. You have a time limit and only five cards.
The rules of Rock/Paper/Scissors apply:
- If the card you shoot hits a card it can beat, the defending card is removed, you get one ring, and your card is restored at no charge.
- If the card you shoot hits a card with the same gesture, the defending card is removed, and your weapon is restored at no charge. No rings are earned.
- If the card you shoot hits a card it cannot beat, your card is deflected, the defending card remains, and your weapon is restored with one from your stock.
- If the card you shoot does not hit a card, your card is restored with one from your stock.
You lose if you run out of time or cards to shoot. If you successfully clear all of the cards, more cards appear, and you are given an extra 10 seconds.
- Chao Bounce - Included with Sonic Advance 2. Cream and Cheese team up to get rings, with Cream moving a spring on wheels in order to spring Cheese up to get the rings which fly across the sky. You clear the level by getting all the rings. Later levels have more rings which are higher up and require timing to launch Cheese higher, as the spring is also on a see-saw. If Cheese hits the ground, you lose a life. You lose the game if you let Cheese fall three times. The game ends after you win the third round; if you win, you get 113 rings.
- Chao Search - Included with the Chao Garden program downloaded from Sonic Adventure DX. Cheese wants Sonic to help him gather his ten Chao friends. However, with only the Chao's name to go on, the task is harder than it looks. Fortunately, Tikal will aid Sonic by giving him clues as to where the Chao in question is. Clues include a direction, or what the Chao is currently doing. Using deduction, you have to find the right Chao and bring it to Cheese. Each Chao will get you ten rings. You have two minutes to do this, and each incorrect guess will have 30 seconds deducted from your time.
- Chao Ball - Included with Sonic Pinball Party. Several red and green balls descend lower, and your Chao is at the bottom. By pressing A or B, you can throw more red and green balls upward. When 10 balls of the same color are touching, all the balls disappear, which will release any rings trapped inside. You lose if you let the balls lower into your Chao's area.
- Chao Memory - The second minigame in all versions of the Chao Garden. Fourteen cards with seven different foods on them are set up on a 6-by-5 grid. After being flipped over, your Chao will walk around and shuffle the cards around. You can press A while your Chao is pushing a card to trip your Chao, briefly revealing the card he is pushing. If you guess two matching items, you will get rings for each card depending on where on the grid the two cards are located. Cards on the outer layer will earn you 1 ring each, cards on the middle layer will earn you three rings, cards on the inner layer will earn you 5 rings. You can only make three mistakes, and if you flip all the cards, you will get a bonus based on how many mistakes you have remaining:
- 1 mistake left: 10 rings
- 2 mistakes left: 30 rings
- 3 mistakes left: 60 rings
- Normal - 0 rings
- Chrome - 500 rings
- Gold - 1000 rings
- Ruby - 5000 rings
- Sapphire - 7000 rings
- Amethyst - 8000 rings
- Emerald - 10000 rings
- Garnet - 12000 rings
- Aquamarine - 14000 rings
- Peridot - 16000 rings
- Topaz - 18000 rings
- Onyx - 20000 rings
- Moon - 20000 rings
- Sun - 20000 rings
- Trumpet - 1000 rings
- Rubber Duck - 2000 rings
- Television - 8000 rings (appears after three in-game hours after buying the Rubber Duck)
- The original releases of Sonic Advance had a bug: deleting the main game's save file did not delete the Tiny Chao Garden data, but when done so, Rings earned in the main game did not transfer over to the Tiny Chao Garden. There are two ways to revert this; using a GameShark or collecting the same number of Rings collected before the game data was deleted. This was fixed in v1.1, only released in Japan, and in the Sonic Advance and Sonic Pinball Party combo pack.
- The music that plays in the Tiny Chao Garden in Sonic Advance was remixed for Act 1 of Ice Paradise in Sonic Advance 2.