Following close in the wake of Sonic Jump, Sonic Dash seems like an obvious choice in format for a portable Sonic game; an endless runner for a hedgehog who is reknowned for running. On this basis, Sonic Dash can be forgiven for being a near carbon-copy of the popular Temple Run… in fact it is slightly surprising SEGA hadn’t thought of this idea earlier!
Sonic Dash sees the player lead-footing it through a never-ending world, collecting rings and popping enemies as you go, whilest trying not to smash Sonic’s teeth in on a low beam or send him to a watery grave. As Sonic’s journey is a neverending one, the aim of the game is to rack up the highest score you can. Sonic can manouvre between three rails (a trait reminiscent of Sonic and the Secret Rings) and can negotiate objects by jumping over or spin-dashing under them. Dash power is generated by collecting rings, which can be used to initiate warp-speed and to avoid particlarly nasty sections. Sure, there’s no story or flashy cut-scenes, but because of that Sonic Dash is a great pick-up / put-down title, and is an ideal time-waster while making a cup of coffee or riding the bus to school or work.
Dash is a pretty title. Ok, it’s a gorgeous title. The 3D models are all rendered to a high standard, and while the scenery is limited to the Green Hill Zone and Seaside Hill, both environments have a high level of detail to them further enhanced by slick running on the newer generation Apple products. The soundtrack consists of a happy hardcore rendition of Seaside Hill / Ocean Palace (distinctively Sonic R-esque) which while fun to begin with grows rapidly tiresome, you’ll find yourself playing on mute after 10 minutes.
The gameplay is exactly what you want from a title like this; highly addictive. Many gamers will find themselves putting the game down, only to pick it up a few minutes later in an effort to beat your high score – or even more satisfying, your friend’s high scores. The joy of playing this attractive title is unfortunately marred by moments of pure frustration, particularly when runs are ended by cruelly placed enemies hidden behind hurdles, or row upon row of spikes or mines that are virtually impossible to avoid.
Similar to Sonic Jump, the game sets objectives which reward the player with coveted red stars which allow you to purchase lives (in order to continue runs should you fall – what happened to lives?) or to buy other characters such as Tails and Knuckles. Rings collected in each run can be put towards upgrading abilities which assist racking up even higher scores.
Unfortunately here lies the real negative point of this game, in that it is a massive cash cow which will wave micro-transactions in front of your nose at every possible opportunity, tempting the player with unlockables. While on one hand this isn’t so bad as extra characters and power-ups can be unlocked through means that don’t require opening your wallet, the challenges that reward you red rings are often extremely time consuming or taxing. Ring collecting is also tediously slow, and thus the in-game store offers a double ring perk…which costs more to buy than the game itself. Considering the target audience for Sonic titles are younger people, it seems hardly fair to dangle these offers in their faces – especially as scoring seems to scale with progression of challenges.
The consequence of this is that the longevity of this title is likely going to be proportional to the amount of money you are willing to invest in it, with few willing to spend £35 to unlock the full experience from the get-go.
While Sonic Dash is a pretty little time-waster with solid, silky gameplay, it is apparent that it has been designed in order to milk as much money out of the player as possible. If you can resist the urge to blow your paycheck in one go on perks, then I recommend you head to the iTunes store and get this game downloaded. But heed the warning; if you want it all and you want it now, Sonic Dash will take all of your ‘Sonic cash’.
THE FINAL WORD
+ The happy hardcore soundtrack.
+ The beautiful backgrounds and stages.
+ The addictive gameplay.
+ Trying to beat your friend’s high score.
– More than ten minutes of happy hardcore soundtrack.
– Cruelly placed obstacles that end your high score run.
– The time consuming challenges you’ll need to complete in order to unlock characters.
– Being hassled to buy ‘extras’.
Sonic Dash is available for download on the iTunes store for £1.49 / $1.99