If you can't wait for the next instalment of Sonic Advance then you'll be pleased to learn that the blue spiky one and friends are back for a new outing on GBA, in the frenzy of fisticuffs that is Sonic Battle. Not a million miles from the likes of Power Stone on the Dreamcast, Sonic Battle is a beat-em-up/combat game in which players fight it out with a range of hand-to-hand and special attacks across an assortment of large(ish) 3D environments.
The concept is fairly simple - you choose from a roster of eight characters (such as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Shadow, etc.) before selecting the arena, setting the rules, customising your special attacks, and then getting down to some brutal battling. There are three types of special attacks, as well as Ground, Aerial and Defence fighting techniques, meaning that there's quite a scope for customising your character to suit your own desired fighting style.
The main single-player game is Story Mode, which, as is generally the case, sees you work your way through a series of increasingly difficult battles, tied together by a load of narrative and cut-scenes. The story itself has not ventured far from the usual Sonic offerings, with the nasty Eggman up to his old tricks again and getting his knickers in a twist over some Chaos Emeralds. The point of the Story Mode though is that playing through it enables you to create and train your own AI fighter which can then be used in future battles.
Other game modes on offer include the obligatory Training and Challenge options, but the best bit has got to be the game's multiplayer aspect. With the aid of your trusty link cable, up to four of you can hook your machines up and battle it out using just the one cartridge. The main offering here is a team battle option - which allows you to pull off team-based co-operative attacks - and there are also a number of mini-games that you unlock by playing through the game.