Well, if it doesn't feel like 1991 up in this iPad right about now. Why? That's because I got Sonic Dash loaded up. The good developers at Hardlight must have found a hidden cache of Blast Processing to inject into this title, because Sonic the Hedgehog is finally moving fast again!
The endless-runner genre fits Sonic as perfectly as one of his weird, five-fingered white cartoon gloves. For the first time in twenty years, SEGA has put out a truly great Sonic title. But let's get one thing clear right off the bat: Sonic is not here to reinvent the endless runner. Though he just might be here to perfect it.
If you already have Temple Run or Pitfall loaded up on your mobile device, you're not going to be seeing anything terribly new here in terms of gameplay. You move Sonic around three different lanes as he runs, swiping up, left, down and right to dodge obstacles.
After taking off on a huge, bumper-assisted jump, you will be prompted to swipe in different directions to engage mid-air stunts that will keep you flying and help you get past some seriously long distances. And all that is very well and good. In order for this game to work, all Sonic has to do is the one thing he does best – run fast. And that's definitely what Sonic Dash has plenty of.
Plus, swiping down will curl Sonic up into his signature "spin attack" ball, complete with the old-school sound effects. What other endless runner game can boast that kind of classic gaming feature? Ring collecting, tons of loops, those turbo-charged bouncy bumpers things -- Hardlight hits all the right notes.
Speaking of rings, it should come as no surprise that they are used as currency to buy power-ups in Sonic Dash. It is, after all, a mobile endless runner game. But if you want to get your thumbs swiping on the likes of Tails, Knuckles, and Amy Rose, you will have to be prepared to bring them out from behind the paywall. You will need to spend red rings in order to make big purchases and unfortunately, the only way to get a bunch of them at once is to make an in-app purchase.
Even though SEGA and Hardlight are getting lots of things right with Sonic Dash, it still feels like they could have injected a little bit more of the Sonic universe into the title. The levels you can play are mainly based off Seaside Hill and Green Hill Zone.
Sure, Knuckles and Tails are involved, but there's no sight of Dr. Eggman, or some of the other iconic Sonic levels like the Chemical Plant and the Casino Night Zone (which, by the way, should totally be the name of a band). Perhaps SEGA wants to see if this title will prove to be a hit, in which case there would be plenty more material to put into the game.
What we do get is a solid, fast, and fundamental game. Sonic Dash is the fastest endless runner game out there on mobile right now. So that should also make it the best, right? Because that's what we should expect out of an endless runner. Who better to arrive and show us all how it's done than everyone's favorite spiny-blue speed demon?
Providing that Hardlight will beef up this title with some future content updates, this game will enjoy a top spot among the endless runner elites for a long time to come. Sonic Dash represents the best of a new gaming formula mixed with the right amount of nostalgia.
Sonic Sez: YOU are gonna love this game.