Sonic Battle (Game Boy Advance) Review

By Karn Spydar Lee Bianco 17.04.2004

Review for Sonic Battle on Game Boy Advance

Sonic Battle could be described as the Super Smash Bros of the Sega world, but this would can only be described as a skin deep comparison really. The basic premise is the same, a host of characters from a big company (Sega/Nintendo) fighting the hell out of each other for no particular reason other than pure fun. However Sega's incarnation has some big differences, first off there is a single player mode with a storyline.

Of course the plot isn't exactly up to much; it is a Sonic game after all. The game begins with a series of 'cut scenes' the fist of which show Dr.Eggman testing a new robot, but after it doesn't respond he throws it out, only to be found by none other than Sonic himself. Sonic can't get the robot to do anything either, so he takes it to Tail to inspect it, meanwhile it seems Eggman wants his robot back, after he discovered something new about it, as well as that it would seem a host of other characters, including Shadow and Rouge want it as well, something mysterious is afoot. And so it continues with Sonic protecting 'Emerl' at first, but gradually nearly all the characters have control of him at one point or another. For you see Emerl is no ordinary robot, he can in fact duplicate others attack, learn them for him and then use them in future battles.

That is getting a little ahead of ourselves though, lets take a look at the game itself first of all. You will notice after a while that the game is perhaps aimed at multiplayer action as a main use. This isn't to say that the single player adventure is disappointing at all, quite the opposite in fact. Developers have clearly put plenty of effort into this aspect of the title; it is split up into different episodes, the first of which is Sonic's (surprise, surprise) then moving on through Tails, Knuckles etc. Each character continues the plot on from the previous episode until the final chapter where the conclusion lies, and as you would expect a nice final boss battle (can you guess who that might be?). When it is a certain characters episode they get Emerl to follow them around, this means by the end of each episode the robot will have learned a series of moves from that character which it can then go on to use in the following episodes, quite a clever little system, which allows much customisation. You get to pick which moves Emerl can use in battle, as well as even change the way it looks if you want. In fact it is possible to nearly completely duplicate your favourite character, using both attacks and looks in equal measure if that's what you want to do; it is entirely up to you!

Screenshot for Sonic Battle on Game Boy Advance

Each character has quite a diverse range of moves at their disposal, most of which are as you would expect. Sonic for example has a series of quick-paced moves that are often quite powerful as well, whereas Tails has some heftily powerful moves, but they take longer to execute. All the other characters have the same two features in different measure for their moves. Depending on your fighting style will eventually determine which character you will feel most comfortable using, and eventually which moves would be most suited to customizing Emerl with. The actually combat system is relatively simple, but has more depth than you may first envision. Control moves you in a certain direction as you would expect, or press twice for a quick dash, the A button makes your character jump, and if pressed twice in succession will perform a mid-air 'double' jump, good for evasive manoeuvres. B button is your basic attack move, used in conjunction with a direction on the D-pad, or pressed numerous times reveals a host of combo moves that are all basically the same for each character. R pulls off a special move, all of which are completely character-specific. They all follow a basic pattern though, the three types are Aerial, Ground and defend. Before a battle starts you assign a special move to each of these, which then decide how you can use them whilst fighting. For example Sonic has a long range attack that fires a sort of tornado at opponents; if this is assigned to Aerial then Sonic must jump/be in the air, before it can be used. The same go's for Ground and Defend respectively.

Let's take a look at the other modes that are available to you. On top of the single player Story Mode, there are another three modes as well as Mini Games, that all require unlocking before becoming playable. Most of these can only be plated while linked up to a maximum of three other players and there GBA's, another sign of the games multiplayer focus. Training mode does exactly what it says on the tin, you can try out all the various moves of all the various characters here against the computers character who can also be fully customised to your exact specification. This is quite useful, but you will often find it is just easier to get stuck straight into the Story Mode and learn as you go along instead; still it doesn't hurt to have the odd warm up session before battling a particularly hard opponent. Now onto the second largest single player mode, the Challenge Mode is basically where you can use any of the characters you have available and fight like there's no tomorrow! Once you have picked your favourite (or not as the case may be) character, you get to choose one of three difficulty levels to play at, then the usual pre-match setting up of special moves is enabled. From there in you just have to fight 5 pre-determined battles against the computer, each battle could have up to three other characters fighting all against all, or it might just be a one on one match with a real tough opponent. If you die even once, you fail and have to start over again from scratch. Also after each battle you are awarded points for meeting certain criteria in your fighting, after all five battles these scores are tallied up, giving you your final score which is then equated into a grade, I.E A, B, C etc, similar to the Sonic Adventures/Heroes system.

Screenshot for Sonic Battle on Game Boy Advance

Now moving onto the final and possibly most important mode of them all; Battle Mode! The ultimate multiplayer experience of the game for sure. You can customise practically ever aspect of the battle before hand in the various options. You can change the rules, which effect what the criteria for winning a battle are, or Tag, which allows you to make a team of characters rather than going it alone, something that can come in handy when fighting some of your mates that are superior to you without handicapping. Which of course is another option that can be turned on and off at your approval. There are some more options too, but it isn't really necessary to go into them in any detail here, that is what the manual is for after all. Once you've got all that sorted make your decision on your favourite battling arena (map) and off you go, playing as your favourite character is fun, but perhaps even more exhilarating is using your full customized Emerl against your best mate. You can pick one of Sonic's best moves, one of Tails' and then why not one of Shadows to finish off, if your opponent does the same sort of thing with their own customisations the possibilities are endless, as is the fun to be had!

Now you've probably got a pretty good idea of how the game plays by now, so now lets' take a look at the visual side of things. The whole game is based in a isometric world, to give it that '3D' look without leaving the second dimension. Something Sega used before with 'Sonic 3D' for the same reason. It has been done quite well though, everything looks as it should characters are not only recognisable but looking very good in themselves. All the various attacks and moves have some lovely animations to accompany them, also each character has a circular shadow beneath them, which isn't just decorative but does in fact serve a purpose. If an enemy is in the air, either jumping, or for certain characters; flying/gliding, then you may not be able to seem them. The shadows allow you to calculate where they are not just because of there position but also there size indicates how high the character is as well. Players should take this into account to help them plan combo timing etc for when the character will land, another subtle details to the system that is not instantly apparent otherwise. There are a few inconsistencies whilst using an isometric style for a fighting game, other titles like this one often suffer from character collision deficiencies, Sonic Battle doesn't but it is sometimes hard to know exactly where the enemy is in relation to you, which can become frustrating when your trying to pull of a long combo only to realise your 'higher' up the screen even though it looks like your on the same level.

Screenshot for Sonic Battle on Game Boy Advance

Cut scenes provide another source of the visual entertainment. Basically they use sprites of each character and some speech bubbles with text, but nevertheless they are nice too look at and each character has there own emotions, such as any annoyed, excited or sad each of which has a sprite to represent it. As well as that each character has a set of personal voice sounds, the usual evil laugh from Eggman, sexy 'hiya' from Rouge etc. Considering it's coming from a handheld they sound quite good, unfortunately some of the other sound in the game doesn't quite live up to this. The in-game tunes don't have anything particularly wrong with them, there just not very memorable and only really serve as background noise and not much more, there are some good tunes though, each character has there own theme tune, and most are represented well. Then you have the usual affair of sound effects which are also accurate to the attack being pulled off. The physical moves like punches have the louder noises, with the long range attacks having a more high-pitch sound effect. All in all the audio backs up the visual well in providing a nice feel to the game environment.

Before we come to a finish, there are a couple of points that are worth bearing in mind before you consider buying the game. Although the good points easily out measure the bad ones, you will want to be aware of them none the less. As mentioned earlier the isometric viewpoint can cause the odd problem, but nothing to serious, and doesn't really deduct from the overall experience in any large way. Secondly if your planning on using the game mainly for multiplayer purposes (which you are likely to, seeing as that is what the game is aimed at) you will need the usual array of equipment, and mates willing to participate, in the form of up to another three GBA's, all with link cables, and for the best experiences each will need there copy of the game as well. One final thing that becomes more obvious as your progress is the fact that there is no real need for this to be a Sonic game at all. The entire story is based around a new character in the first place, and there is no reason why the attacks used couldn't have been applied to any other gaming characters outside the Sonic universe. That said it is nice to have familiar faces throughout the game, and you can't blame Sega for wanting to sell a few more copies by making it a 'Sonic game', knowing that fans everywhere will pick it up regardless. It doesn't make the game worse in any way, just a bit sad to think some companies aren't willing to try and start up new franchises, instead milking the old ones for all they are worth.

Screenshot for Sonic Battle on Game Boy Advance

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Quite a surprise, developers throwing well known franchises in new directions is often purely a money making scheme, and results in a poor show that will only sell on license. This however is most certainly not the case with Sonic Battle, there is something here for everyone, it's easy to pick up and play, then it has the more subtle levels underneath for the more experienced gamer. It's just a very good all round package well worth picking up whether you're a Sonic fan or not.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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