It has to be said that the launch of any new Sonic game is usually met with apathy across the board – recent adventures, Sonic Mania aside, haven't been particularly noteworthy.
With that in mind, you wouldn't expect a mobile edition of the latest 3D Sonic game to be worth writing home about, but Sonic Forces: Speed Battle is honestly a lot of fun.
It's a neat multiplayer twist on the auto-runner genre, with plenty of surprises to be found and constant progression that ensures you never feel like you're not getting anywhere.
Gotta go fast
Sonic Forces: Speed Battle takes place entirely in four-player online battles – as soon as you're out of the tutorial, you'll be thrown into a race against other players.
As is the case for most autorunners, the game handles the forward momentum while you switch between one of four lanes, as well as jumping and sliding to dodge obstacles.
And as you might have guessed, your overall goal is to beat the other three runners to the end of the level, by avoiding obstacles and deploying power-ups at the right time.
There are four kinds of power-ups to use - a projectile which travels down a single lane until it hits a wall or opponent, a trap that covers every lane except the one you're in, a speed boost, and a shield.
Each runner has different variations of these power-ups, along with their own stats to take into consideration, adding another layer of strategy to races.
Try and keep up
What this means in practice is a lot of relatively short but incredibly tense matches, as the track fills up with dangers, opponents disappear off only to hit a wall and fall back hard, and everyone battles for first place until the very end.
Levels are also full of different routes to take, with some that are surprisingly hard to find given you're on a fixed path the entire time, and that adds a bit of variation to the races.
Even if you lose, you don't miss out. The game gives you small rewards just for taking part, and huge prizes for winning, so everyone gets to make some kind of progression.
All that said, it can get a little tiresome after a while - you're locked to only two stages to begin with, and it takes some serious grinding to level up and open newer levels.
Show of force
Overall, Sonic Forces: Speed Battle is a lot of fun to play, though it's probably best off experienced in short bursts.
There's nothing stopping you from playing forever, and with a variety of routes in each level and plenty of unlocks as you go, you'll want to keep on running.
But there's a ton of grinding before you open up new levels, and after the hundredth run on the same two stages, you might start to grow a little tired of the experience.