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Review: Sonic Dash – An Iconic Game Franchise Stumbles

by Wessel Minnie (Sillicur)  Posted Tuesday, December 17, 2013 8:53:00 AM

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The loveable blue Hedgehog is back, running onto Android in the form of Sonic Dash after being out on iOS for nine months. Sonic and Mario are two of the games I remember from my childhood that I enjoyed playing immensely. Unfortunately, Sonic Dash suffers from a lack of polish and has left the sour taste of pay-to-win in my mouth.

Sonic Dash has recently been released for Android devices and is available on the Playstore here and iTunes here. The game is free to play, requires a download of 42mb and Android 2.3.3 or up to play.

During my time with the game I used my Nexa Orion 10.1, a powerful yet affordable Quad Core 10 Inch tablet, as I climbed into the running shoes of the iconic blue Hedgehog

Graphics and Sound – Nostalgically Lovely Albeit Limited

There is no doubt that Sonic Dash looks great, as the 3D graphics and colourful environments bring the game world to life. Animations on characters look smooth, while enemies and moving obstacles in the environments do well to deliver a sense of immersion. That is until you unlock other characters to play with. Even though Sonic himself is animated perfectly, the characters you can buy, especially “Shadow” has so many animation bugs, from feet clipping to an arm disappearing that playing with him is almost unbearable.

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Unfortunately, the game does not offer a wide variety of environments. That could have been okay with me, but every time I died or started the game up again I was thrown back to the first environment, even after getting to the third environment type. This makes the game very limited, even though the graphics are great, the nostalgic feeling soon wore off and I quickly became bored with the same old lavishly green first level.

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The sound quality of Sonic Dash is very impressive. Every sound takes me back to my first Sonic experience so many years ago. The zipping sound of a speed boost or the unmistakable sound of Sonic rolling around is masterfully done. Familiar sounds coupled with music perfectly tailored for a running game produces a wonderful audio experience.

Gameplay and Controls – Fast and Furious

The fast paced movement in Sonic Dash is exactly what you would expect from the speedy Hedgehog. To jump, you swipe up, while to roll you swipe downwards. The roll doubles as Sonic’s attack, with which you can destroy your enemies. Moving left or right requires a simple swipe in the direction you want to go and can be used while in the process of jumping or rolling.

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The gameplay is very straight forward, as the aim of the game is to run as far as you can without dying, banking some shiny rings in the process. Movement is extremely fast paced which makes the occasional frame rate drop a death sentence, as the game seems to lag every few minutes.

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The boss battle is fun and engaging, offering three phases. The first phase Zazz throws out stars that you have to dodge from a distance, while in the second phase he moves closer to you and throws out two stars at a time. The final phase was somewhat of a letdown, as you only have to tap on him three times to collect a large amount of points and win, requiring absolutely no skill to do so.

Even though the fast paced gameplay is fun, the fact that there is only one boss battle hurts the game in my opinion. Level design is also somewhat flawed, as every run ends the same.  You roll underneath one object to simply run into one right afterwards without even having vision of the object that killed you, which makes me feel as if levels were designed in a way to promote In App Purchases (IAP).

Metagame and IAP – Sonic Falls Flat on his Face

There is no story to progress through, so the only sense of progression comes in the form of leaderboards where you can see your friends on Facebook and try to beat their highest score. This could have still been nice, but competing against players who have dropped some cash on the game is completely impossible.  

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You can buy a currency called Red Star Rings which can be used to buy power-ups or revive your character on a run. Power-ups come in many forms, from total score boost, speed boosts, ring collection bonuses and many more. This gives a player a distinct advantage while competing with other players on the leaderboards.

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Not only is the game pay-to-win, but it also plagues the user with reminders of their disadvantage if they opt not to spend some cash every single run. The revive option just screams “go buy something on our store!” and straight after a failed run as you go to the main menu the game asks you to rate it, over and over again even if clicking “No Thanks” instead of “Ask Later”. This broke any sense of immersion I had during gameplay, which is an absolute shame.

Closing Thoughts

Sonic Dash has some amazing graphics and animations, but suffers from a lack of different environments and occasional Hedgehog killing lag. The sound quality is the best aspect of the game, delivering some very nostalgic moments.

Unfortunately Sonic Dash offers no progress except for leaderboards which are plagued by IAP and reminds you of that fact consistently and without mercy. The game is free to play, so if you want some fast paced Sonic action, there is no reason not to try it out. However, be warned that the game has no sense of progress and loses its novelty very quickly unless you drop some serious cash.

Score: 5.5/10  

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd



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