Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sonic Dash Review (Sonic Dash vs. Temple Run 2) (IOS)

    I've never had a smartphone, but I've always had friends who did.  I constantly steal their iPods and Androids so I can flap some bird or crush some candy.  However, my oldest sister happened to upgrade hers and send my mother her old iPhone 4 (er whatever it is.)  I automatically took hold of it and have added on a few popular aps I've heard about (sadly just a day, a literal DAY too late for the original flappy bird).  One game in particular caught my eye--Sonic Dash.  I am by no means a Sonic die-hard or even that much of a Sonic fan.  I watched the show as a kid and played two or three games for the GameBoy Advance (including a little mini-episode thing).  I really enjoyed Sonic Advance 3 and Sonic Battle or whatever I have, and I've played the original Sonic on the Genesis once or twice, but that's about it.  Well, I decided to have a look at Sonic Dash as the everyday consumer and this is what I've decided.

      Sonic Dash is an app released March 7, 2013 (2 months after Temple Run 2) for the iPhone and Nov 26th, 2013 for Android developed by Hardlight.  The game is a free download with micro transactions to quicken progress in the game and purchase characters.  The game takes place after/during Lost World, using one of the bosses from the game, Zazz.  The game takes a 3D style, following Sonic from behind like in more recent games.

     As far as I can tell, there isn't one.  The game is an infinite runner.  On occasion, you'll come across Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik or Zazz in miniature boss fights.  I haven't unlocked any alternate characters so I'm not sure if they affect this at all, but there is no story.  I am a very story driven person, but none of the aps I've played seem to have a real story to them, so I'll just have to assume this medium of game doesn't really deserve a score here, especially when grouped with the hardly literate Candy Crush game.  Overall, Sonic is running because that's what Sonic does.
Overall:  N/A

     The game looks gorgeous.  The games have the same bright color scheme as Sonic Lost World and everything looks very clean and nice.  Sonic looks just as he should with the perfect shade of blue and the enemies are all easy to see and the path is clear.  The game takes the same behind the back view of sonic and only changes when going around loops.  
   The game doesn't seem to have any frame rate issues, but there is one thing that caught my eye:  when Sonic does a jump off a red button, I think it is secretly a loading screen.  The game slows slightly and Sonic stays in the air for a while before you can see the next area and land.  This can slow the pace of the game a bit and sort of bothers me, but is a very clever way to hide loading time.  Also, sometimes it's hard to tell what kind of obstacle is ahead and some feel like they come out of nowhere.  However, when you do come down from those giant jumps, you can see the first few obstacles of the next area, which is nice.  The obstacles in the game are much easier to see than in Temple Run 2 (the game I'll mainly be comparing it to) since they are so bright and colorful.  Avoiding them is another thing.
Overall: 8.5

     The music is nothing special.  In a sonic game, people expect a rockin' sound track that gets you pumped up and excited.  The music of the game does fit the fast pace, but is not memorable, but not bad.  It does just enough to keep you engaged, and I will admit, I do like the boss fight music.  Zazz and Robotnik both say a line or two and both sound alright.  Robotnik sounds almost perfect and says a bit more than Zazz does.  Zazz sounds...well like Zazz.  The sound effects are also nice.  Sonic's spin attack sounds like it does in other games with a satisfying "whoosh!" and his jumps have a nice spring sound.  One huge problem though is the swipe sound.  Instead of tilting the iPhone, you swipe to either side and the sound for this action is AWFUL.  I wish it was more solid but really, it's horrible.  However, I normally play with the sound off since I play it in public.
    I will say, I enjoy listening to it more than Temple Run 2's rather limited soundtrack.  If it wasn't for the awful swipe sound, I'd play with the sound on.  Overall, nothing special, but by no means ear breaking.
Overall:  7.5

Gameplay and Controls:
     Aps have a very special feel of their own in videogames.  In console and PC games, they have many buttons, each for different actions, combos, and whatever else the game requires.  IPhones are small and have only a touch screen.  Some people argue aps are best played on tablet devices and while yes, it can make some easier, who wants to walk around playing, essentially, on a piece of paper?  The games on an iPhone have to be played simply with just a few easy controls done with your finger.  Sonic Dash has those controls.
     The game play is essentially a re-skinned Temple Run, but with a few differences.  First of all, there is only a single path so no need to swipe left and right to turn corners--instead, swiping to one side makes sonic step to that side to get rings, avoid obstacles etc. instead of having to tilt the iPhone.  I actually prefer this because I like to move around a lot when playing and in Temple Run, that could kill me in a flash.  You'd think this would make the game easier, but I actually feel like it is faster, and therefore much more reliant of quick reflexes to get rings and power-ups like magnets and shields. Swiping down makes sonic do a spin dash to go under obstacles or plow through enemies.  Jumping does, well, a jump.  On occasion, you'll have to do a jump-tap to kill a fish enemy over a large gap or tap the screen to attack Zazz and Eggman.  One commonly used tactic in the game is either jumping and immediatly going into a ball or vice-versa to avoid spikes or get rings.  This feels soooo smooth.  I tried this tactic in Temple Run 2 and it just doesn't feel the same or work nearly as well (nor is it needed as much).
     The control is smooth like butter.  There's an occasional  problem I have where I accidentally touch up rather than a side, but in general, it's pretty precise.  Sonic feels fast and smooth and it's great!
Overall:  9

Boss Battles:  
       On the subject of the bosses, they are too easy.  Both are exactly the same, except their design.  The first wave comes from behind and shoots a missile or star at you that you must swipe to the side to avoid, then goes in front of you and blatantly show you where they are setting down mines or stars you need to avoid.  That's not to say I haven't taken some stupid damage on them, but over all nothing to write home about.  I wish that they had a little more difference between them because essentially, Zazz is just a re-skin of Eggman.  Yes it is an ap, but there could have been more than just running to the sides on a plain, straight path.  Even some puzzles would add a little pizzazz the game needs.
Overall: 6.5 

Length and Replay-ability: 
    The game can go on forever, since it doesn't have any "end."  This is both good and bad.  The good part is, it's so easy to pick up and play a few times without feeling like you are doing the same thing over and over in the same pattern.  On the other hand, you don't really feel like you've made progress.  Boss Battles seem random and don't give a real prize (aside from points) for defeating them.  The only way to get to areas other than the Seaside Hill like area is defeating a boss or going through the red button "portals" so to speak.  However, these are a choice.  Each time you approach a set of 3 buttons, each does a different thing.  One can bank rings, one can take you to a loop, one is a random ?, one takes you to get a puzzle piece, and some can take you to different areas etc.  This is nice, but you have to decide quickly--do you risk your rings to see a new area?  This can entice you to play again though, to risk it next time and see the dock or other areas.
    Also, a hit from an enemy only takes rings away, but missing a jump or dash and hitting something will instantly kill you with only 2 ways to revive yourself: watch a video to get 1 free continue per game, or use a revive coin.  You can earn revive coins by playing, or purchase them with micro transactions which I'll discuss more later.
    For an Ap, the length is pretty good to just pick up and play over and over again, so
Overall: 8

     As great as the game is, it has major downsides.  First of all, the rings and hits.  Standard golden rings are only used to buy powerups, upgrades, and the like.  As I mentioned, you have to go through a certain gate to cash your rings though, and if you get hit right before you enter, you'll lose all your rings and have wasted your time.  Unlike Temple Run 2, which has a variety of characters for increasing increments of the hundreds of gold and red gems you collect in the levels, Sonic Dash uses Red Rings to unlock other characters.  This doesn't seem like a problem at first, but one HUGE problem: Red Rings hardly ever appear.  In the total of my time playing it (which is around six hours) I've only found three or four MAXIMUM while actually playing the game.  For comparison, I've seen and received more green revival gems (about 20 including a random 14 I got) in about three or four hours of Temple Run 2.  Then, you can get two or so by completing all three challenges.  Guess how much characters are?  Tails, the cheapest of the characters, is FORTY-FIVE RED RINGS!!!  There are seven unlock-able characters: Tails, Amy, Knuckles, Blaze, Shadow, Silver, and Rouge in order of cost.  If you don't want to earn the stars to buy every character, it'll cost roughly $15.  That is absolutely crazy.  I can't even be sure if any have special abilities, which I highly doubt they do.  Not to mention, rings don't give you extra lives, since you essentially have infinite lives (thankfully, because I hate the 5 lives and wait 30 min feature of Candy Crush).  I don't understand why they couldn't just use the normal golden rings to purchase characters like Temple Run 2, which even unlocks abilities with the redemption of each character!!!
    That brings me to microtransactions.  I understand that this game was a free download, which is great!  But the number and pushy-ness of in-ap purchases is ridiculous.  You can spend a few dollars to get Red Rings or Continues.  Once you are hit by an obstacle, you have two choices:  watch a video to get 1 free continue per game, or use a revive coin.  If you aren't connected to the internet, you can't watch a video or redeem your free item spin of the day.  Revive coins can be earned, but very rarely.  More often than not, you won't have them.  There is a $1 or $2 purchase that gives you 1 free continue on each round which seems worth it, but why is that necessary?!  I would rather have to pay a few bucks for the game off the bat than have to play short, 1 hit rounds that can seriously hurt the flow.  The purchases are EVERYWHERE, from spinning the prize wheel to getting characters, to get golden rings and revives!  Global challenges do give off some of these prizes, but seriously?!

    That also brings up a weird thing I've noticed.  When playing this game, the iPhone heats up like the desert in July.  The thing feel so hot, it's worrying.  I take off the case to it and try to cool it down but iPhones don't exactly have an exhaust!  I feel like it's going to burst into flames at any moment.  I have been playing Temple Run 2 to compare it and I have begun to notice this for it as well, however not until a long time of continuous play: not after about five minutes.  More than that, besides the maybe loading screens I mentioned under Visuals, Sonic Dash also has a very long loading screen when starting up and before and after runs.  This just smacks the flow in the face.  Temple Run 2 let's you start practically immediately and get right back up after you die.
     Also, a friend brought up how his is very glitchy, and after big jumps, sonic will fall through the world!  I am fortunate enough to not have to deal with the glitches.
Overall:  2

Final Verdict:
      Sonic Dash is a great game to hand to your kids or younger cousins to mess around with for a while because of the bright, beautiful atmosphere.  However, the in-ap purchases, load screens, and semi-repetitive gameplay will really drag you down.  When I first got it, I downloaded it and Temple Run 2 in case either had Candy Crush's limited plays so I had something else to play; at first, I preferred Sonic Dash.  However, I've really seen myself gravitating towards Temple Run instead.  Die hard Sonic fans, go ahead and get it.  The game is a free download and a fine thing to play around with.  People who don't really enjoy Sonic and already have Temple Run on your phone, no need to take up more space. For a free download, it's a pretty solid game

Overall:  7/10  (mathematically 6.92)   
   So that's all I have to say!  This one was a bit of a doosy!  Finally, things are starting to chill out (though there's huge drama at school).  Next on my plate is getting those Vlogs up!  The first one is 90% ready (having issues finding free music) and the second progress.  The Rant itself is ready which is really the hard part.  I hope to get the first video ready and uploaded this weekend!  Thanks everyone for checking in!  If we're lucky, I might even have a bonus post for you all tonight!!!  <3
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