When it’s time to put the world’s fastest-running hedgehog in a new game that’s exclusive to iOS, what kind of game do you put him in? That’s right, a jumping game! And once you’ve done that to great critical acclaim, you can then put him into an endless runner, apparently.
At long last, Sonic meets the genre he was practically born to be a part of in Sonic Dash. Fans of the Modern Sonic era (as per Sonic Generations’ designation) should have a decent idea of how this one plays, as the Blue Blur races through such famous Sonic the Hedgehog environments as Seaside Hill, and… well, that’s it, really. As per typical genre conventions, Sonic only races through one of his well-known types of setting, though at least it’s randomized.
Controls are pretty easy, and feel inspired by the behind-the-back running portions of recent 3D Sonic titles, with a horizontal swipe allowing him to quickstep left and right, accordingly. Swipe down to roll, up to jump, and tap the screen when the reticule appears over certain enemies to perform Sonic’s trademark homing attack, plus different directions when prompted to perform quick time event-style stunts in mid-air to clear certain jumps. In theory, it’s a match made in heaven.
In practice, however, it doesn’t always work as well as it should. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell what’s coming up before it’s too late, especially thanks to cinematic camera work or just rounding corners and climbing hills. The controls don’t seem to respond as well to a rapid-fire succession of different types of obstacles. Worse still is when certain obstacles block you from seeing other obstacles or enemies– sure, you just cleared that rock barricade with no problem, but now you’re landing on one of Eggman’s Badniks, who are scattered throughout the stages. Now you’ve lost your rings, and one more hit will finish you.
Plus there’s the fact that said rings are used as currency to buy power-ups. However, if you want to get to the really meaty material– as meaty as this game gets, anyway– you’re going to have to bone up on your dollar-to-ring conversion rates. Tails, Knuckles, and Amy Rose (each promised with their own unique abilities) are all gated away behind a paywall which requires special red rings to purchase, starting at 30 for Amy.
At first, the game is fairly generous with those red rings, but once you hit about six or seven (the game gives you one for returning to it the first time), the gravy train slams on its brakes. From that point on, you need to spend real money in order to get more (save for some special rare circumstances). You can also purchase continues, but those require special “Revive Tokens,” which require red rings to purchase. Hmm, to unlock Tails or to continue? Decisions, decisions.
Sonic Dash isn’t a bad game as an endless runner, but Sonic fans might notice that the game has a certain lack of depth and variety when compared with his more traditional fare, or even other iOS games such as his own Sonic Jump or fellow mascot runner Rayman Jungle Run.
Of course, what little variety the game does have is stifled by the paywall, but developer Hardlight Studio is promising free updates in the future. Hopefully these will allow the game to become a more content-rich title like Sonic fans are accustomed to, much like their prior outing in Sonic Jump.