2D Sonic games involve moving at speed from left to right. It's a well known fact. No one is going to change that. Well, hold on to your hats, because Sega just did and they've called it Sonic Jump.
It's no great secret that Sonic Jump owes its existence to Doodle Jump. It kicked off the whole 'jumping up the screen on platforms' genre for smartphones and Sega's newest game doesn't really attempt to change the basic formula. However, Sonic Jump does manage to bring a few new tricks to the table and there's no doubt that it improves on the process.
The basic premise is that Eggman is up to his old tricks again and our hero is the only man (or blue hedgehog with superspeed) to stop him. So goes the story mode, which gives you quite a large set of pre-built levels to complete. The linear story mode is one of the ideas Sonic Jump brings to the table and it works fairly well as an exercise in memory, learning the layout of the level until you can master it. Most 'jump' games just throw in random platforms and make do, but Sega have created something that feels different.
The game itself plays like any other jumper; tilt the device left and right and watch Sonic automatically jump up the screen. If he lands on a platform then he'll jump again, if he doesn't then it's back down the screen, which becomes certain doom should he disappear off the bottom. Through out the level there are rings to collect and 3 red star rings for bonus points. Enemies can be defeated with a bump from below, but hit them from above and you lose your rings. Lose all the rings and it's bye bye Sonic, just like every other Sonic game out there. Boss battles appear at the end of each set of stages and are often annoyingly tricky affairs, but not impossible.
Borrowing from other games doesn't end with Doodle Jump and its ilk, though. There's a neat little objective system at work in the background too and just like Jetpack Joyride or Tiny Wings, it keeps you coming back for more with an incentive to beat the next objective. Remove one and another slides in to place for you to beat. Why? Well, level up enough through these objectives and you get to play as Tails or Knuckles.
Collecting rings also gives you a currency to buy upgrades, another idea borrowed from other iOS games, but no less welcome. Everything from a safety net that gives you a retry from where you last died to a multiplyer for collecting further rings. The endless mode is pretty much the same things, but the levels are random and only end when you die. It's standard fare for a jump game, but no less fun because of it. The game also encourages you to compete against friends, which only adds to the longevity and replay value.
Graphically, Sonic Jump has an advantage over other Jump games, it looks great and it's the typical brightly coloured, blue skied and full of details affair that you'd expect from Sega. Sonic's neat motion blur is one of the little features to watch out for, but it's the highly detailed backgrounds that are deliberately faded to avoid any danger of muddying the game environment that make it look really special.
I admit to being sceptical about a jumping game featuring Sonic, but aside from the odd annoying level in the story mode and a feeling that Sonic really shouldn't be travelling upwards, something I don't think I'll ever get used to, Sonic Jump is an enjoyable little gem that took me by surprise.
- Sound: 7
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 8
- Longevity: 8
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