So, another day another IP fronted by everyone’s favourite blue hedgehog. You know, it’s sad to realise that Sonic’s presence is no longer akin to a seal of quality anymore.
Time was that seeing the little bugger’s face on a game’s box was something in its favour. In his pomp he was the hottest property there was. Younger gamers may not remember or even realise, but Sonic was once a serious rival to Mario; the Pepsi to his Coke if you will. Those two were the behemoths of the early console generation, poster boys for their respective companies.
Now one could chart the divergence of the fortunes of the two mascots, through Mario’s meteoric rise to arguably being the avatar of the whole industry and Sonic’s decline to haggard shadow of what he once was, but that is a whole other study entirely.
Suffice to say, Sonic is nowhere near as illustrious as he once was. Over the years he’s been plastered on all kinds of things he really shouldn’t have, from Pinball games to poorly realised 3d games. While there have been some mild successes in the run, the vast majority have been at best average or, at worst, truly dreadful.
The thing is, there’s only so much tarnishing a reputation can take before all the shine and polish is gone and all that’s left is an empty husk, a battered remnant of past glory with no relevance to the modern day.
It’s in this context that today’s subject enters the fray; Sonic Dash on the Ipad.
Sonic Dash is a hard one to judge, if I’m honest. If you want a very quick review then it’s this: it’s Temple Run, but with Sonic. You like Temple Run? You also like Sonic? Then this is the game for you.
The game consists of Sonic placed in the foreground of the screen perpetually running forward along a linear course. The player’s task is to position their blue buddy so as to avoid the oncoming enemies and obstacles whilst collecting as many rings a possible. There’s a reasonable variety of things to avoid, from traditional robo-crabs and beetles to the obligatory gaps to jump and overhangs to roll under. The collected rings tot up to allow later unlocks and, as with standard Sonic rules, prevent him dying if he collides with an enemy.
The high score system is based on distance travelled. The player’s progress ends if they collide with an enemy while holding no rings, drop down a gap or hit an oncoming wall. There are purchasable extra continues to help out with such situations, but they cost valuable rings which can be spent elsewhere.
As is standard these days, the game has a ream of micro transactions available, mainly centred around the purchase of red rings, which can be used as in game currency to unlock extra characters, lives and abilities. The funds for these can be obtained through extensive play should you not wish to part with your hard-earned currency for a boost, however.
The thing is, to leave it at just a gameplay review is kind of missing the point.
The style of the game, while not being anything ground-breaking is, for once, one that actually suits the little Erinaceidae. The constant movement and jinking, the increasing rapidity coupled with the need for swift actions, really fits with the feel of the games of old. Put simply, Sonic is about speed and action and so is Sonic Dash.
Maybe I’m seeing this through blue-tinted specs, but the feel of the game really harks back to the bonus levels from Sonic 2, the ones you spent running through a half pipe avoiding spines and collecting rings. While it may be quite different in application, the style of Dash certainly feels true to that ethos.
At £1.50 for the basic game, Sonic Dash is ok value. Not brilliant, but not terrible, especially considering the plethora of micro transactions in the game. For that cost you get a competent game which will divert your attention for some time and, maybe, give you a fleeting glimpse of the sonic games of old, if only in feeling.
Sonic Dash is by no means a great or progressive game, but it doesn’t disgrace the heritage of the once great Sonic franchise and, compared to most of the games since the good old days, that in itself is perhaps all that can be asked for.
Paul Izod is a lifelong gamer. Since he was old enough to tap at his Dad's PC's keyboard he's been a gamer. Dedicated and often opinionated, you can be sure he'll always have something interesting to say about the subject at hand. Find him on Twitter at @PaulIzod or @FaultyPixelUK or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org