Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Sonic Battle

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Electronic Theatre Image  Yet another Platform star trying their hand at something a bit different. From the off-set, the game comes across as something a little unique. The general idea is to play as one of nine characters from the Sonic universe, and beat the hell out of your opponents. This is not something we know Sonic for. His usual run, jump, run sequence has been put to the side, as Sega have obviously taken note from Super Smash Bros. Now, I wouldn’t say that this is a rip-off, but it does seem glaringly obvious where the inspiration for the title has come from. 

The battles take place using 2D characters, on an isometric 3D background. The objective being to either knock-out your opponent until they no longer have any lives left, or to knock-out your opponents in order to score a pre-determined amount of points. The battle begins with you selecting which move you shall assign to which kind of attack, basic, aerial or defence. At first this will confuse the player, as there is little in the way of telling what each move can do before selecting it.  Selecting your moves takes place at the start of each battle, and prior to each regeneration of your character should you be knocked-out. The controls are baffling to begin with, seemingly totally unresponsive, it’ll take a good 1/2 hour of play till you actually realise what the buttons you’re pressing are doing, as the confusion on screen often leaves you looking for your character behind a wall or opponent. The basic functions are  jump, basic attack and special attacks. Selecting each of the different moves for each of the three attacks will change the action your character does when performing a basic function, for example, selecting a basic attack move for an aerial attack may perform a drop kick upon jumping and attacking, replacing the basic attack with special attack may cause your character to perform a SonicSpin attack upon the same button presses. Quickly, it becomes apparent that this is one of those games that you’ve just got to jump right in at the deep end, and see how long it takes you to learn to swim.

The action is, at first completely beyond comprehension. The on-screen events seem to have no correlation to what you are trying to do, nor to what it feels like should be happening. As you progress to your second or third battle, things become clearer. The game plays as it should – jump, bash, die… it’s a beat-’em-up. It’s a beat-’em-up with style. The realisation comes that there is no exploration, no puzzles, no adventure. The only way to learn is sheer button-bashing madness.

Once this realisation kicks in the game takes on a whole new form. Intriguing and addictive, the Story Mode entices you to continue playing – to create the super robot! The Story Mode plays as you’d expect, a few storyboards followed by a battle, followed by a few storyboards. As you start the game, Sonic discovers a robot discarded by Dr. Eggman, named Emerl. This robot becomes key to the story and as you progress, he develops the talents of your other characters, learning all their moves. The idea here is to select your favourite moves and build your own fighter! This is a fantastic feature, and is the main reason to play the Story Mode rather than just having random fights in the Battle Mode.

The graphics are fluid and well presented. The isometric level design is spectacular, as you move about the screen, the angle alters slightly to offer a better view. This can be a little disorientating at first, but soon becomes second nature. The character models are well drawn and for the best part well animated, coming to life in a way seen only in well-developed Game Boy Advance games such as Fire Emblem  or Metroid Fusion. The visuals are bright and crisp, but I don’t think Sega really achieved the 3D effect they set out to. The sound is clear and sharp, with the sound effects being pleasingly brutal at times, and the music having the usual Japanese ditties-theme to it.

The game is, on the whole, original, well developed and, above all, fun to play. The obvious area of attention is the multiplayer, although the dreaded slow-down does feature occasionally, the fun to be had is flawless – comparable to the mighty Super Smash Bros. Melee. What the game offers is a simple, fun, addictive beat-’em-up with enough class to keep you busy for weeks. Customizable to the teeth and offering as variety of modes for you to hack through. For all it’s flaws, there’s a solid title underneath, and this should not be overlooked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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