Sgt. Spiffy Avatar Posted on 10/28/2012 by Sgt. Spiffy
Games
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A moderately successful Doodle Jump clone that provides plenty of challenge and content for the asking price, but little incentive to keep playing past the initial thrill of guiding a self-jumping Sonic up and up.

Sonic Jump is a moderately successful Doodle Jump clone that provides plenty of challenge and content for the asking price, but little incentive to keep playing past the initial thrill of guiding a self-jumping Sonic up and up. Sterile, lifeless visuals and a forgettable soundtrack wonít endear itself to the hedgehogís notoriously loyal fanbase, and while itís possible to ape the Doodle Jump motif while sprinkling in some franchise innovation - Namcoís Pac'n-Jump is a great example - Sonic Jump isnít nearly as inventive with its bounty of potential. The inconsistent difficulty spikes, which can quickly turn a rather innocent casual-style game into a nightmare, may make the game a hit with the hardcore crowd but that's about it. While not a complete disaster, approach this Sonic Boom cautiously.
Release: October 18, 2012
Rating: 4+
Publisher: Sega
Written by Evan Nathans (editor-at-large)

After a string of good-to-fair attempts to crack the mobile market with ports of existing and brand new games, Segaís mascot has fared about as well in the iOS and Android world as he has in the home console one that spawned him. Sonic Jump, an original mobile game developed by Segaís Hardlight Studio (the same folks responsible for porting Viking: Battle for Asgard to PC), finds more Ďinspirationí in the smash-hit Doodle Jump than the vintage hedgehog games of the past, for better or worse.

To be fair, itís a bit disingenuous to call this a blatant Doodle Jump rip-off, as there was already an endless-jumping Sonic game of the same name that predated Lima Skyís blockbuster by a few years for the JME cellphone crowd. Donít feel bad if youíve never heard of it - practically nobody has, and apart from the singular Ďjump straight upí mechanic and title, this new version shares almost nothing with its badly-aged inspiration. This is an entirely game game built for the world of smartphone/tablet gaming, meaning thereís no d-pad or buttons required; everything is controlled via quick tilts, taps, and double-jump taps.

The gameplay is simple and straightforward enough - literally - as youíll guide Sonic as he jumps straight up towards the goal post, tilting your device left/right to bounce from platform, spring, and crumbling rocks and switchboards while avoiding scores of enemies and hazards and collecting rings. Sonic auto-jumps from each platform, though youíll get a quick double-jump by tapping the screen, and regular rules apply for collecting rings: a stash will protect you from a single hit and keep you jumping, though get smacked again and itís Game Over. Enemies can only be popped by spin-jumping from below them, and it isnít long before youíll go up against giant fans that blow you away, falling debris, and thereís some added strategy with being able to quick jump outside the border frame to the other side.

Story Mode contains three worlds to choose from (once unlocked), each packed with 11-levels of jumping action as well as one boss battle stage. Apart from simply surviving and collecting rings, youíll also get to snag three red stars to help buy/unlock items in the shop to make things easier, like bounce-back nets and the like. Arcade Mode reconstitutes various enemies and platforms for some endless-jumping fun to get the highest score possible; itís exactly what it sounds like and offers a nice incentive challenge for some quick bragging rights. Tails and Knuckles are even here to help spice things up, though youíll have to unlock level 17 for Mr. Miles Prower and level 20 for the red Echidna. Itís a good bet there might be additional levels added later (hello, DLC and IAP) but for now thereís a nice chunk of gameplay here to keep most fans busy - provided they survive that long.

The most maddeningly thing about Sonic Jump are its difficulty spikes, which occur so frequently that you might be tempted to hurl your device in a fit of Sonic Boom rage. Levels bombard you with multi-dangers and missed-jump platforms before they should, almost without a care if such early hyper-difficulty challenges are even fun. Thereís a certain thrill that comes with completing a particularly tough spot, but failing dozens of times intermittently has a way of dulling the excitement. Hardcore challenge seekers might be in Sonic heaven here, but I fear most casual types will just give up in sheer frustration without getting that far into the game.

The game looks nice and sharp in that crystal-clear Ďhigh-definitioní style, meaning Sonic and the various enemies all sport that bland, sterile look. Itís as if Hardlight plucked stills from the various Sonic Rush games and scrubbed them clean from all personality, blending the sprites with blurry backgrounds (to simulate depth) and called it a day. The result is a hodge-podge stew of colorful bits that almost resembles a pre-Facebook MySpace page; technically nice but artistically devoid of anything worthwhile. Itís only during the rare between-level storyboard scenes where the game comes back to life somewhat, reminding us just how great Sonic and Crew can be when theyíre rendered properly.

As hardcore fans probably know all too well, a decent soundtrack can be the sole saving grace of even a mediocre Sonic game (most of the latter day efforts); sadly, that hasnít happened here, as the BGM is a disappointedly forgettable mix of low-grade faux-Sonic tunes that fail to salvage the lackluster visuals.

A quick note about playing the game on either the smaller-screen iPhone/iPod Touch versus the iPad; both versions are identical, though each uses the available real-estate differently. On older iPhones thereís slightly less height, whereas lucky iPhone/iPod 5 users get to take advantage of that elongated screen. iPad users get a slightly wider viewing area, which in turns means more breathing room and less obscuring those precious platforms.

Sonic Jump is a moderately successful Doodle Jump clone that provides plenty of challenge and content for the asking price, but little incentive to keep playing past the initial thrill of guiding a self-jumping Sonic up and up. Sterile, lifeless visuals and a forgettable soundtrack wonít endear itself to the hedgehogís notoriously loyal fanbase, and while itís possible to ape the Doodle Jump motif while sprinkling in some franchise innovation - Namcoís Pac'n-Jump is a great example - Sonic Jump isnít nearly as inventive with its bounty of potential. The inconsistent difficulty spikes, which can quickly turn a rather innocent casual-style game into a nightmare, may make the game a hit with the hardcore crowd but that's about it. While not a complete disaster, approach this Sonic Boom cautiously.







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