Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom soft launches on Google Store, here are our hands-On impressions

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Out of nowhere, another Sonic Boom game is announced. Only this one is a sequel to arguably Sonic’s most popular mobile title. Dropping onto the Google Store late Tuesday night, Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom is getting a soft launch onto Android (no word on iOS yet) in Canada and Ireland. Here is the official details from the Google Play store…

The dazzling sequel to SEGA’s hit endless runner, SONIC DASH. Featuring the cast and world of the new TV series, SONIC BOOM.

New and amazing 3D worlds, challenges and game play. Play as Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails, Amy, Knuckles, and Sonic’s new friend, Sticks. Let’s do this!

SONIC DASH 2 FEATURES
– RACE with up to three characters in new Team Play mode! Swap runners mid-race to earn high scores
– UNLEASH new special powers – Amy’s Hammer, Knuckle’s Jump Up & Slam attack, Sonic’s even faster Dash, and more
– CONQUER new obstacles and badnicks
– DASH on new fast-paced tracks in and above the beautiful Sonic Boom world
– MASTER new Swing & Tilt gameplay with the super charged Enerbeam; tilt your device to swing the runner towards the rings and orbs
– COLLECT, evolve, and run with new magical Sprites
– EARN special prizes in new Events and Daily SEGA Challenges

Sonic Dash 2.1

I’ve gotten my hands on the game today and have played it for a few hours. While I feel the game is still too in it’s infancy to give a proper review, I will however, give you my first impressions.

Right off the bat, the game still has that Sonic Dash feel. You swipe from left or right, up or down to avoid enemies and obstacles. You also collect rings as per usual and blue orbs to fill your dash meter. Once the dash meter is full, do a double tap on the screen to do a full-on dash for a few seconds. Sounds familiar, but there are a few new differences. The biggest one being that you can have up to 3 characters with you in one level. As you enter a new area, you will run into a cave, bank your rings and have the chance to swap characters. Each character brings their own ability with them as well. Sonic attracts rings like a magnet when in full dash mode, Knuckles can do a ground pound that knocks out nearby enemies and Amy can turn all enemies and obstacles into rings when in dash mode. This helps give the game a lot of variety rather than sticking to just one character. Another addition is the Enerbeam. Every once in a while on the stage, you’ll encounter an up arrow which will send you into the sky and you can grab onto a rail with the beam just like in Rise of Lyric (sorry for bringing that up). While hanging you can tilt your mobile device left and right to collect more rings and orbs. It’s fun and a nice break from all of the swiping.

EnerbeamIt’s hard to say in it’s current state how fair the microtransaction economy is. You can purchase red rings and then use that to purchase coins, continues or more characters. However, you do earn Red Rings enough that you don’t really need to go that route too often. For instance, I got Sonic and Knuckles right away and Amy cost 30 rings. It only took me about 2 hours of game play to afford her. It won’t be to collect enough rings for Tails (50 rings) and Sticks (70 rings). This is still a much, much better system than Sonic Runners roulette wheel per 50 red rings (which is straight up gambling if you’re trying to get a new character). Continuing doesn’t cost too much either. It’s free the first time after watching an ad, one red ring the second time and two red rings the third. Gold rings are primarily used to upgrade your characters. There’s also tickets you can earn either by waiting or purchasing with red rings. Tickets are used for daily events which gets you extra prizes such as XP, gold rings and red rings. These events can take awhile to get through as the prizes you unlock get bigger and bigger. Don’t feel like doing events? Play the game normally and you can take on missions that unlock prizes as well (although they are much smaller). The great thing about regular/mission mode is unlimited lives. This game does not stop you from playing. It only limits events, not missions or high scores. Overall, there’s tons of stuff to do to keep you coming back for more. One thing that’s sure to please Sonic fans who are disappointed with Runners is that you can play the game offline. You won’t get extra continues or tickets with ads or be able to make purchases, but at least you can play the game without any interruptions due to a connection loss.

Sonic Dash 2.1
Of course, there are some downsides. The one transaction that sounds good on paper is VIP mode for five bucks. Here, you get two extra tickets, a free non-ad revive and one Sprite (I’ll go into those in a bit) every 6 hours, every day. This would be great if it was a one time purchase, but it’s monthly. At five dollars, I fell like I’ve basically bought the game and that small advantage should be permanent. Now about the sprites. You get one per day and they give you an extra ability or boost for one game, then they’re gone. There’s a variety of them so you’d think you’d collect them like you did the Chao in sonic Jump 2, but no. You can save them up and buy extra slots if you want more than one in a big score run, but once they’re used, they’re gone. I don’t really see the point in this. The final thing is that yes, there are bugs. This wouldn’t be a Sonic Boom game without them I guess. I’ve seen video of textures that stop loading after a while and Sonic just runs straight into nothingness. I’ve had Knuckles use an Enerbeam and sink into the ground like quicksand instead of flying into the sky and in one other instance, Sonic hit a tree and instead of it being game over, the camera kept moving forward slowly without him until all the textures were gone and I had to quit the game (it still saved my score and rings).

That said, the game is still in a very early state and the bugs should be fixed long before a more international release. While in it’s current state, Sonic Dash 2 is no where near beating the finely-tuned Sonic Dash, it’s still pretty fun and addicting which is great considering how most mobile games are in their early form. The biggest problem it has to the original is the character roster is much smaller. However, if they add in fan favorites like Fastideous Beaver and Dave the Intern, I’ll be more than happy to plunk down some cash to obtain them. While Sonic Team has made an overall better game with Sonic Runners, they could definitely learn a few things from Hardlight Studios on how to refine a mobile game and make a better and more functional mobile experience.

Sonic Dash 2 is by far the best Sonic Boom game out there, but that’s a pretty easy feat considering the last two console games. Maybe Sonic Boom’s best place is on the mobile market. Be sure to check out Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom when it arrives probably in the late fall or whenever we can manage to snag it from the Canadians cold, back bacon-smelling grasp.

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