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.
– 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.
– 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.