When Sonic Jump hit the App Store last year, no one wanted to hear about how it was actually a totally good game. Everyone just wanted it to be a Sonic the Hedgehog endless runner. Sonic is a mascot focused on going as fast as possible, as often as possible. And no mobile game genre is hotter than the endless runner. It’s a no-brainer, right?
And yet… here we are.
Sonic Dash isn’t a bad game. The gameplay is fast-paced enough to live up to the Sonic name, and the cheery visuals & classic Sonic sounds are always good for a solid dose of nostalgia. But it is a bland, unoriginal game. Combined with its overabundance of cynical In-App-Purchase ploys and it’s tough to recommend wholeheartedly.
Dash offers up a Sonic-themed take on hit freemium endless runner Subway Surfers. Sonic runs through the environment automatically and you swipe left or right to move between three distinct lanes. Swiping down activates an enemy-destroying spin dash and swiping up jumps. The gesture controls are snappy, responsive and accurate. I never once had a run end prematurely due to a swipe not registering.
You’ll dash below overhangs and through enemies, jump over spikes and wind your way through the environment until eventually the action gets too fast and you make a mistake. Here you’re presented with the first of many upsells. For just one red ring you can continue your run. 30 Rings can be purchased for $3.99.
There are no levels to dash through or single-player missions to complete. Climbing the leaderboards to best your friends and Game Center opponents is your only goal. But you can literally pay your way to the top of these leaderboards if you’re willing to spend enough premium red rings. I’m in fifth place on my friends list. Are my four friends just better than me, or did they pay up? I have no way of knowing. Sonic Dash is a leaderboard-centric game where you can’t trust the integrity of the leaderboard.
Although the controls themselves never lead to my death, the same can’t be said for Sonic Dash’s level design. Nearly every run in Sonic Dash ends with you jumping over an obstacle and immediately landing on an out-of-sight enemy. Frustrating. Doubly so when you’re immediately asked if you want to spend a premium ring to continue.