Review: Sonic Jump (iOS)

While Sonic Jump is the first Sonic game designed with iOS and smartphone devices in mind, it’s not the first Sonic Jump game. Sonic Jump originally came out in 2006 on older cell phones of that period. This predates Doodle Jump which many claim this game is a knockoff of by almost three years. That’s right Sonic Jump didn’t rip off Doodle Jump. If anything, it’s the other way around.

But the most important question remains “is this game any good”? While I will say this is a much more improved and involved game than Doodle Jump, it’s not without its faults. Read on for the full review.

There really isn’t much of a story to Sonic Jump. Dr. Eggman traps some Flickies in a substandard cage and puts them high on some clifftops that Sonic (and later Tails and Knuckles) must reach for….no good damn reason. Seriously, that’s it. There’s no plot for world domination here. Eggman’s just being a jerk.

The gameplay itself is simple and intuitive. Sonic constantly jumps upwards to land on some small platforms. As he goes upwards, you have to dodge obstacles and watch where you land as some platforms crumble beneath you. You control Sonic’s upward mobility by moving him left and right with just a tilt on the iDevice. This actually works great and is very accurate for landing on tiny platforms. You can also get an extra boost while Sonic is in mid-air just by tapping the screen. There are 36 levels in all (so far). Three worlds with 11 acts and one boss stage with more to come at a later date. However, unlike other games of this genre, it gets a little more involved.

While there is an endless “arcade” mode that others of this kind have, Sonic Jump’s level-by-level story mode gives it more of a feel of progress. You’re not just getting as high as you can “snicker”, you are progressing act by act and accomplishing goals (AKA missions) which builds your level so you can get better power ups and eventually unlock Tails and Knuckles. The only problem with this is that it’s a Catch 22. You see, the later acts in the Mountain and Jungle zones get incredibly hard and sometimes skill just isn’t enough. You NEED these power ups. But the missions you must do to level up are completely arbitrary and often pointless. If they were things you did as you were playing the game normally, it’d be fine. But a lot of the missions have you going against what you are doing. Often, you have to complete a task by going into an older zone or doing something stupid like “hop in one spot ten times” or “get hit by spikes from above five times” This tends to make it more of a game about unlocking achievements than just progressing through the game.

Then there are the rings. As Sonic is going through a stage he is of course, collecting rings. As always, getting hit usually just means losing those rings, but Sonic Jump gives you more incentive to save them as they become currency in the game. Want to purchase a power up that will let you bounce back as you fall? 200 rings please. Unlocked the magnet power up? 2,500 rings to upgrade please. This is where Sega makes the extra money through in-app purchases. That’s right, if you really want that character or power up and it’s taking you forever to bank enough rings, you can simply BUY them for certain amounts. 2,500 rings will cost you 99 cents while 120,000 rings will cost you $28.99. Want to unlock everything? That’ll be $20.99 please. I’ll admit, I did go for the $2.99 “Ring-Ring” powerup that always doubles the rings collected. But if you’re not in a rush to finish a review, I’d recommend just going back to Green Hill acts and collecting rings in that fashion. Fortunately, there is a safe in every act that lets you keep the rings you’ve collected so far. The only problem is that since it drains all the rings into the safe, it leaves you vulnerable for death should you get hit.

Okay, so I’ve played the game mostly by beating the missions instead of beating the acts, but by the time I got near the end of the Jungle level, I had finally unlocked Tails (level 17) and Knuckles (level 20). So how do they play differently from Sonic? Well, once Tails finishes jumping, he glides back down slowly making it easier to land on a platform below but making him slow and vulnerable to attack by Dr. Eggman. Knuckles big move is to shoot higher into the air when you tap the screen a second time. This can be essential to landing on a platform that may be out of your reach. You don’t need either of these two to finish the game, but it’s nice to have them. The only thing that really bugs me is that when you unlock them, you still have to purchase them for 2,500 rings. I usually went broke doing stupid missions that either REQUIRED me to buy a power up or I just really needed the help of a power up to finish. But I wasn’t about to pay 99 cents for them. I trudged through older levels and banked enough rings to buy them. But still, if I’ve gone through all that trouble to get to a high enough level to unlock them, shouldn’t I be able to use them then and there?

If you’re skilled enough to get through the game without using too many power ups, the game itself is pretty short at 36 acts. Most of its length coming from its high difficulty. There’s not even a proper ending due to there being more levels on their way. When you “beat” the game, you just get Eggman getting away on his Egg Mobile with a “More levels coming soon” message. Fortunately, you won’t have to BUY more levels. They’re free. Also, Sega has promised more characters to come soon. The next two are most likely Shadow and Amy as their avatars can be seen in the world ranking section of arcade mode. Silver and Blaze are rumored to be playable in the future as well.

It’s hard to say how nice the characters look in motion as I’m playing on an iPod Touch. So Sonic and the others look pretty tiny but they are detailed enough I can still make out who’s who and what’s what despite how small they are. The animation is very nicely done and it’s hard for me to tell if they are handmade sprites or just 2-D renders. In the end, does it matter? The 3 different backgrounds of the zones look very nice, but it does get tiring looking at the same thing over and over. I will say the comic style art in the cutscenes looks fantastic. I’d love to see this artists work on the cover of a Sonic comic.

As far as the music goes, it’s nice and melodic  but with 11 acts of the same music in a row, it gets repetitive very fast. Also, with the exception of Eggman’s boss music, it’s just not very…”Sonic like”. Y’know what I mean? Even Jun Senoe’s forgettable Sonic 4 soundtrack had a Sonic Genesis feel to it. This music feels like it could have been placed in any other iOS game.

In fact, the whole game feels like you can just take Sonic, the enemies and Green Hill zone out and replace it with some other character, keep the other levels and music and you would never know it was a Sonic game. If it wasn’t for this being a semi sequel of sorts, I’d have thought that’s EXACTLY what they did. Especially with Eggman locking the Flickies in a simple cage instead of one of his devices.

That said, I don’t wanna sound like I’m bashing on the game too much. I actually enjoyed it FAR more than I did Doodle Jump or the Pac-Man equivalent. Having a stage by stage mode gives it a more progressive feel and it has way more obstacles and daring platform jumps then many other jump games of its kind. The controls feel very tight and tapping the screen anywhere for a second jump means your thumb won’t be filling up the screen.


All in all, Sonic Jump is one of the best in its genre, but that’s not saying much. It’s a great game for five to ten minutes of play or longer if you’re really into it, but it still has the mobile game trappings of expensive in-app purchases that are the norm these days. Plus, you’ll find yourself playing more for finishing missions than beating acts. Also, you’ll be playing for quite a while if you want to unlock everything. But once you’re done with the main game and unlocking Knuckles at level 20, you’ll find there’s still more missions to do and endless arcade mode should keep you coming back for more. At $1.99, Sonic Jump is not quite a must for Sonic fans, but it is still highly recommended.

Positives

– Only $1.99 (Cheap!)

– Central gameplay is better than other games of it’s genre.

– Playable Tails and Knuckles.

– Strong replay value.

– Good art and animation.

– More levels and characters.

Negatives

– Leveling up system leads to more focus on odd and silly tasks rather then playing the game normally.

– Takes forever to get Tails and Knuckles.

– Huge spike in difficulty after Green Hill zone.

– Music gets repetitive fast.

– In-app store that charges way too much for rings.

– Feels incomplete. Because it is.

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16 responses to “Review: Sonic Jump (iOS)

  1. GX Echidna says:

    While I find it hard to agree with the above commenter, I’d say you’re spot on with the stupidity of the mission structure. The biggest problem with it is that, while the missions get progressively more demanding as you continue gaining levels, the payout for leveling up remains a constant 500 rings. So the more demanding missions begin demanding that you buy items that will practically negate your level up boost. Combine that with the fact that you will -never- make profit from items you buy with rings, and you pretty much have a game with a fairly busted economy.

    • T says:

      What’s with the little grey achievements that pop up at the top sometimes? The last one I noticed was ‘no job too small unlocked’.

      Looking through all the menus I can’t see any new mission, power-up, character etc unlocked – what do these refer to?!

  2. I disagree with your final score. $1.99 for an enjoyable game that, as you said, is “one of the best in its genre” garners at least a B+, if not higher once more content releases. Don’t quite get “but that’s not saying much”, if it’s the best then it’s the best and that IS saying much, despite how small the price point is.

    Anyway, good review, even if I disagree on some points.

  3. GX Echidna says:

    XD I think giving a B+ to one of the best in the infinite vertical jumping genre kinda speaks to where he stands with the genre itself.

    • Was that in reference to Shigs score of my personal score?

      Anyway, I enjoy the genre, it’s a fun time waster and thankfully Sonic Jump puts the infinite element in the arcade mode and actually gives us a story mode. I think if the music was better (it’s catchy, but seems low in quality), the graphics were more in line with games like Sonic 4 Ep II and everything was there from the get go, I might even deem this in the A range. But thats just me.

  4. GX Echidna says:

    Though I will say, the game probably would have been a lot more enjoyable had I just ignored all the missions and the store and just played the levels to the end. It’s tough though when the carrot on the stick to bother with them is unlockable characters.

  5. DCGX says:

    For me the thought of developers pushing a player to pay for in-app purchases after already purchasing the game would sour the game itself for me, and I would score it lower.

    I have no problem with in-app purchases for a free game, but if I already paid for the game and the developer purposefully makes the game more difficult to encourage in-app purchases, it’s getting up there with on-disc paid DLC with me. In-app purchases like with Virtua Fighter 5 on XBLA/PSN I understand, here not so much.

  6. -nSega54- says:

    “I disagree with your final score. $1.99 for an enjoyable game that, as you said, is “one of the best in its genre” garners at least a B+, if not higher once more content releases. ”

    I don’t take any issue with Shigs’ score, if anything I was expecting it to be lower, lol.

    “It’s a great game for five to ten minutes of play or longer if you’re really into it,”

    A great game for “5-10 minues,” for me, would score far lower than a B-.

    But that’s just me though.

    • Thing is, I’ve gotten much more than 5-10 minutes of play out of it. In fact, my commute is 30 minutes to work and I’ve found myself playing the entire ride. So like Shigs said, he have different opinions on the game.

      As for in-app purchases, I never felt them pushed on me. They’re there, but they’ve never felt compulsory to me. I’ve always had enough rings to buy whatever items I need.

  7. Shigs says:

    I think we all got different opinions on the game.

    Like I said before, I enjoy the game quite a bit for an iOS game, but there’s enough flaws there that I’m not gonna give it a high score.

    As far as “but that’s not saying much” goes, yes. I’m talking about the genre itself. It’s always been just okay.

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  9. CrazyTails says:

    I think sonic jump on IOS is great and from me it would get a 9/10. I enjoy it more than most IOS apps and I actually think it brings an amazing satisfying challenge.

  10. -nSega54- says:

    And for the record a B- is still a good score. It’s not like Shigs is trashing the game.

    Either way. It’s not the type of game I have any interest in whatsoever, but good to know some of you are having fun with it.

  11. Skippy says:

    Surprising amount of bickering here for what is simply just a simple mobile phone title, it’s not like the next big major Sonic game or anything, just a spin off of the main franchise.

  12. Hitrax says:

    Is any one here aware that there is a project on kickstarter to fund a Sega history novel, using Sam Pettus.

    • Barry the Nomad says:

      As previously mentioned, please keep comments related to the review. Any off-topic stuff, even if SEGA related, needs to happen in the forums or you can use our “contact” button to give us a news tip.

      I have heard of the project, sounds cool, but like I said this isn’t the place to discuss it. 🙂

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