Sonic Forces: Speed Battle is now out globally for all to download and enjoy, and if you've played both Sonic Dash and Mario Kart, you're going to be treading some familiar ground. The game is less about tying into the newly released Sonic Forces on consoles and PC, and more about giving the Sonic Dash formula a competitive edge and a few tweaks to make things more interesting. It's still an on-rails runner with collectible characters, achievements, microtransactions, and all the other hallmarks of your standard freemium mobile game, but the formula has been changed up significantly and some additions made to turn the laconic endless running series into a twitchy, head-to-head struggle for perfection. As an aside, the graphics have been polished a bit, as well; expect visuals roughly on par with Sonic Generations for characters and most set pieces.
One of the biggest changes is the addition of mandatory multiplayer. This can only be played online, with other people. In these races against real people, you're no longer running on an infinite track; each track has its own endpoint, and once you reach it, the race is over. Another big change is that your top speed has been raised significantly from the Sonic Dash games, and can change dramatically at the drop of a hat. Collecting rings is the only way to increase your top speed that will stick until the end of a race, but hitting an obstacle or being hit with another player's power-up will negate all or part of your hard work gathering up rings. The power-ups themselves range from a speed boost to things like blocks of ice up ahead that will freeze opponents, or a fireball that will shoot directly ahead and hit anybody in that lane who's in front of you. Things that would end your session in Sonic Dash, such as falling down a pit or smacking into an obstacle, will serve only as setbacks in this game.
Even with it being more forgiving than Sonic Dash and giving the player more opportunities to redeem themselves from mistakes or improve their chances of winning, the kicker of Sonic Forces: Speed Battle is other players. Up against a skilled bunch, missing a power-up grab or a line of rings, hitting an obstacle, or falling off the course can and will flatten your chances of getting first place. This means that nothing short of a perfect run will guarantee a win. As with Sonic Dash, if you do manage to pull out a win, your rewards, such as Red Star Rings, can be used to buy characters and boosts. Naturally, real money can do the same thing much more efficiently. This is, after all, a freemium title. If you'd like to test your Sonic Dash skills against other players worldwide, hit the Google Play button below.