It has been some time since I played a Sonic the Hedgehog game. Years of disappointment and lackluster releases kept me away from the series. However, this year SEGA released Sonic Runners on the iOS and Android around Sonic the Hedgehog’s 24th birthday and my recent reading of the book Console Wars made me interested so I went ahead and download the game from the Apple Store (no harm since the game is free-to-play).
The game actually moves at a fast pace and is a side-scroller. Side-scrolling was a powerful game genre all on its own during the arcade and 16-bit era of video games and prior. The game includes tons of Sonic’s pals, but doesn’t force you to play with them, although the buddies do become necessary in later parts of the story due to their difficulty.
Difficulty is the main problem with Sonic Runners. The game has cheap mechanics that kill you as you advance in the endless side-scrolling game. The only real way around it is to either power-up like crazy or to pay for red coins that will allow you to revive yourself when you die. In the later levels, death is almost guaranteed due to walls and pits being placed exactly after you speed up, leaving you no option but to die. You may find yourself screaming at your cell phone from frustration. Being forced to die also removes that sense of accomplishment a player normally feels at the end of Sonic the Hedgehog whenever they reach the end of a zone.
Another issue is just how repetitive the stages get. There needs to be more enemy variety and also more differences in the boss battles to make the game interesting enough long-term, otherwise I cannot imagine anyone playing this game past a few weeks at the most. Sonic Runners feels like classic Sonic games, but lacks the depth of those lava, desert, water, and space levels that made those Sonic games truly memorable.
Boss battles with Eggman get increasingly boring as you progress through the game. Eggman has simple attacks and no real edge, which is surprising considering Eggman is a genius who should have some pretty sick attacks and vehicles to attack Sonic with. Even ripping the Eggman machines from the early Sonic games would be enough to provide players a challenge.
I have clocked plenty of hours with the game and the music is interesting at first and then becomes mind-numbing because of how often you have to replay stages in the later parts of the story to get to the main boss. SEGA could easily solve this problem by releasing extra sound tracks as unlockable features, I know I’d love to put some classic Sonic music on my game or even new Sonic music.
Perhaps it is just the Sonic fan in me, but the add-ons for Sonic’s birthday are the real draw to Sonic Runners at the moment. The music in the special stage helps break up the monotony. I have spent hours trying to unlock Classic Sonic and players only have until July 10th, 2015 at 8:59AM (UTC) to unlock him as a character.
I enjoy unlimited data with T-Mobile and have a strong Wi-Fi connection pretty much everywhere I go, but I know others have complained about the need of a data connection to use Sonic Runners. I can imagine that being a problem for many people who lack data plans or have crappy internet connections. Some players seem to be having technically difficulties with Sonic Runners at the moment, however I used an Apple iPhone 6 with iOS8 and experienced no issues playing Sonic Runners.
Overall, Sonic Runners for Apple iOS is not for everyone, but certainly worth checking out…especially since it’s free to download. It certainly has some room to improve though, but is not quite as bad as some other free-to-play games that I have played in the past.
Download Sonic Runners on Apple iOS: http://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/sonic-runners/id953019873