Sonic Dash Review: The Hedgehog Is Right At Home In Endless Runner
Sega’s development studio Hardlight, which did an impressively solid job on last year’s Sonic Jump, has once again turned Sega’s most successful franchise character into a popular mobile genre game. This time it’s Sonic Dash, a speedy, ring-infused take on Temple Run. Like Jump before it, Sonic Dash is a solid and playable effort that invokes the things we love about Sonic the Hedgehog.
In the game you take control of the titular hedgehog as he rushes forward in endless runner style, dodging enemies and gathering coins, trying to beat your best distance and best high score. It’s not only an obvious application of the popular genre to a character known for his speed, but it’s also strikingly reminiscent of some 3-D running levels going as far back as Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
And not surprisingly, it works. Sonic was made for this, and he fits right into the genre. He rushes forward with speed and style. The controls are what you’d expect: up makes him jump, down makes him perform his famous spin dash (which is also a duck/slide for getting under obstacles), left and right make him move side to side.
I am a fan of the way various Sonic-specific elements are wrapped into the game. Like Sonic Jump before it, Sonic Dash has coin collecting, badniks, spin dash attacks, and other notable elements from the franchise, all incorporated here as game-affecting elements, not just decoration. For example, having even one coin is enough to save your run should you hit a badnik or spike (but not a wall or fall), letting you get further in the game. It’s these Sonic franchise elements that help distinguish Dash a bit from its fellow endless runner games. I do wish the game moved beyond Green Hill Zone, though, maybe letting Sonic shift into other zones as you get further.
One thing that takes getting used to is the game’s angle of vision. It’s a little *too* over the shoulder, instead of the higher perspective offered by Temple Run. The result is that sometimes you just don’t see things coming, or you get caught in a cheap death — like when I slid under an obstacle only to find a badnik right behind it, right in my path, with no chance to avoid it. I wonder if a higher camera angle could be incorporated in a future update.
All that said, there’s one place where this game severely angered me: IAP. It’s annoyingly persistent here, and on top of that it’s ridiculously expensive. It doesn’t help that one of the currencies in the game, Red Coins, seem to be deliberately ultra-rare. Want to unlock a new character? Either pony up the cash ($3.99 for Amy, $6.99 for either Tails or Knuckles) or be prepared to play for a LONG TIME. And this is a game you’re already paying $1.99 for!
Sega wants to make good and sure you’re aware of the IAP, too. At the end of each game you’re confronted with a “hint” that is just an advertisement for how some IAP item could help you get further. You must deliberately click out of this advertisement before you can play again. Talk about brazen!
Frankly, the IAP here is so off-putting, I’m tempted to score Sonic Dash lower. But if you can just learn to ignore it (and live without other playable characters), it really is a fun take on the Endless Runner. And as a Sonic fan, I just can’t stay mad at this game. Hopefully, Sega will hear enough complaints about the IAP to make some changes in the future; and in the meantime, I’m perfectly happy guiding Sonic through Green Hill Zone.
Our Score: 4 out of 5.