I think we can all agree that Sonic the Hedgehog has had an active run this year. He came crashing in with a massive sugar high via Sonic Mania, and proceeded to follow it up with the hangover that is Sonic Forces. Reactions to the latter have been all over the place; some thought it was another stellar title in the series, others like myself thought it wasn’t very good, and a third group of people bashed it as they would with trash like Sonic ’06 and Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. With the amount of chatter about whether or not the series has any legs to stand on anymore, I thought I may as well bring up a pillar that people don’t seem to acknowledge much: Mobile games.
Say what you want about the franchise, but I can assure it makes a ton of bank on mobile devices. There is a reason why SEGA has been putting resources into Sonic games on phones since the days of flip phones. They make money. Maybe not a whole lot during the mid-2000s, but with smartphone gaming being more popular than ever, the Sonic series has been alive and kicking thanks to the loads of downloads and purchases it as a whole benefits from. Each smartphone game in the series, counting paid titles, has at least several million downloads. Sonic Dash in particular has hundreds of millions of downloads. That’s a lot of people playing a Sonic game!
What I’m saying is no matter what happens in the console space, you can count on Sonic sticking around in the mobile gaming market. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad thing, either, because these games are indeed very fun. I understand I haven’t been talking about Sonic Forces: Speed Battle until now, but that is only since I wanted to put things into perspective first. As far as I’m concerned, Speed Battle is another game released this year that adds to the Blue Blur’s pedigree. It was released not too long ago as a tie-in to the Sonic Forces console game, of course, but it has its own flavor that helps it stand out.
One mild disappointment I had with Sonic Forces as a game on the Nintendo Switch was that unlike the previous handheld Sonic games, there was no head-to-head online play. While I understood the console Sonic games never had such a mode, I always thought it would be a guaranteed time-sink. After all, thanks to online play, I’ve found myself constantly playing Super Bomberman R and Monopoly on the Switch.
Imagine my surprise to realize Sonic Forces: Speed Battle is a game that consists entirely of online multiplayer matches. As the character of your choice, you can race along Sonic Dash-style levels and avoid obstacles. Similarly to games like Mario Kart, you can pick up items to throw at other players or use to your own advantage. You can hold up to three at once for strategic play, and each character has his or her own unique item choices. The better you do in each race, the more opportunities you have for unlockables, which range from extra characters to subtle upgrades for them.
With all of this in mind, I found myself being more engaged with this little mobile game than the very title it’s meant to be a promotional tie-in to. There is a surprising amount of depth to its gameplay, and in action it’s a lot of fun in the short burst a typical race provides. While there are microtransactions aplenty in this free-to-play mobile title, it’s safe for me to say that you can enjoy Sonic Forces: Speed Battle without touching them at all. I’ve played this game enough times to unlock several race courses, and I never paid a penny.
So yeah; I quite liked playing Sonic Forces: Speed Battle. Hopefully, if you aren’t an elitist that thinks mobile games aren’t real games, you can give it a shot and see what you think as well. I just thought I would give my two cents on the game via this Ryan’s Corner.