Dubstep Hero Review

Dubstep Hero Review

Mar 6, 2014

Many people, including myself, often ask just what the heck is Dubstep. The simplest explanation is that it’s a form of electronic/techno music that focuses on drum and percussion lines that focus on bass and sub bass frequencies. To some, it’s just a lot of noise. But to a growing number of folks, dubstep is the hottest musical trend, brought into the spotlight like artists such as Skrillex. Despite your feelings on the genre, there is no denying it’s growing popularity and adaptation in contemporary pop music.

Now, some of you will also remember for a moment when rhythm/ band karaoke games were all the rage. Titles such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero were quintessential titles to have if you owned a gaming console. However, those times are a thing of the past, with interest in those games being as great as public opinion of freemium games. But that doesn’t stop some indie devs from making games similar to the old popular rhythm titles, such as Brus Media’s Dubstep Hero, which brings the world of Dubstep to the once loved rhythm game style.

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Dubstep Hero uses the familiar 5 different colored circles that designate which notes to hit for whichever song you are playing. Also, just like those two aforementioned console titles, colored notes will come flying at you based on the beat of the song. However, the similarities between the three games end there.

Dubstep Hero is a very watered down version of Rock Band or Guitar Hero. The art and game presentation aren’t all that spectacular. The score and multiplier text are also extremely hard to read, and the game doesn’t give great feedback as to whether or not you actually scored on any notes. This game also has limited features unless you pony up money. If you do unlock the full game, you’ll get the opportunity to import your own tracks, on top of the many tracks you can buy for download. You can also add other customizations, but many can get away without dropping a penny. That is, unless you are a big Dubstep enthusiast.

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Dubstep Hero is an alright game for the price and for what it is. As a Rock Band/ Guitar Hero clone, it’s very ordinary, and very much lacking in a lot of options, such as changing the difficulty. The graphics and overall presentation are extremely vanilla and terribly uninspiring. This title just feels so plain, lacking any originality to it, but plenty of wub-wub-wub.

Planet Descent Review

Planet Descent Review

Feb 28, 2014

Most people wish they were doing something extraordinary, such as running Google, being an Ice Cream taste tester, or piloting a space ship. Sadly, most of us will only be able to act out these dreams through some sort of simulation or game, which is where Planet Descent comes in. In this title, you pilot a space ship around a 2D playing area, dodging asteroids while collecting minerals for fun and profit.

This game inhabits a similar approach to the PC game Lunar Flight, except Planet Descent, as previously mentioned, is 2D rather than 3D. Planet Descent is also quite a bit easier, lacking a lot of the realism or complicated controls used on similar type games. That’s not to say that this mobile title isn’t challenging, but you certainly won’t need years of NASA training to get it either.

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Probably one of the best things going for this game is that the developer took what appears to be a simple game, and gave it some variety. While collecting the green minerals is almost always your primary goal, there are plenty of secondary goals involving keeping your hide safe and doing some intuitive flying. Things such as clobbering surface to air guns or avoiding an asteroid belt will also be spun into the mix, making what could have been a dull game, a slightly nerve racking but lively time in Planet Descent.

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The game also uses a noir-like art style, reminiscent of games such as Limbo, but with color. This actually helps the game stand out a little more while also making it easier to distinguish your ship from other objects.

Planet Descent is well worth the 99 cents, and will make you feel a lot better than you would after eating something off the dollar menu. It’s usage of physics, great controls, and neat art style combine to make a pretty delightful experience. Planet Descent isn’t going to rock anyone’s socks off, but it is a hidden gem in a sea of disastrous apps and games.

Roid Rage Review

Roid Rage Review

Feb 28, 2014

If you peruse around the Google Play app store, you see there is a race to fill the void left by the departure of Flappy Bird. Most of these clones coming out are the exact same thing, just with slightly altered graphics, some of them actually try to change some things. But then, from minds only St. Louis, MO could produce, comes a game with a slightly similar idea, but way better, called Roid Rage.

Roid Rage isn’t some game about Jose Canseco or Sammy Sosa. Rather, it’s a game about the extreme rage you the player will suffer while guiding your spaceship through a massive asteroid collection, while collecting puddles of “Juices” throughout space. Your ship appears to be a one man vessel without weapons, but can turn like no other and doesn’t have a break pedal. You could try to throw the word “endless” on this game, but the better description would be the Atari classic Asteroids on super serum.

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It’s not like Roid Rage is a linear game where you guide a ship through stationary asteroids either. Everything in this game, which just includes Asteroids and “Juices” are placed randomly, while also moving at random. Therefor, unlike the Flappy’s of the world, it requires a touch more skill to avoid death. The added bonus is the collection of “Juices” which are just bright blue blobs on the playing area. The whole goal of the game is to collect as many of those as possible before you die.

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The controls for this game are also pretty simple, and worth noting. You can only turn the ship, as it never stops. A right turn is executed by touching the right side of the screen, while a left one is done by touching the left side. That’s it, a pretty simple control scheme that will give you a false sense of superiority. Those controls, while simple, do little to tame the ultimate anger and sheer frustration intentionally caused by the crafty developers.

Fans of other Butterscotch Shenanigans games (Towelfight 2, Quadropus Rampage) will recognize the art style, as well as the generous in-app-purchases approach. However, this game is not quite on the same level as their smash hit of last year. Roid Rage is part of a series of mini games that the two brother studio plans to put out while working on their upcoming title Crashlands. No word on what future mini’s will hold, but if Roid Rage is any indication, you will want to check them out.

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Roid Rage may not compare to the greatness that is Quadropus Rampage, but that doesn’t mean this title is a throw away either. It may be hard as heck, but it’s still a simple and fun arcade game. Just be prepared for a rise in your blood pressure while stress-fully trying to dodge asteroids, while you undoubtedly avoid work to play this petite IP.

Atomic Fusion Review

Atomic Fusion Review

Jan 27, 2014

Science, like many subjects in High School wasn’t presented in the most exciting matter. Even the late Walter White was a bit dry in his teaching methods, doing little to inspire the youth of today to be interested in science. As an adult, I’ve learned much more to appreciate Science and actually understand it to some degree.

But had a game like Atomic Fusion been around when I was a kid, I might have actually cared more about the things the middle aged man leading my class was telling me. Atomic Fusion combines the classic arcade feel with the periodic table where players will smash particles and atoms together, while charging their elements with matter or anti matter. It sounds daunting at first, much like a final exam for Chemistry or Physics. But Atomic Fusion is both action packed and lots of fun.

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Each “level” of this title takes you, in order, through the elements of the periodic table, starting of course with Hydrogen. As you progress levels, you also make your way through the 150+ known elements before you move on into made up elements. There are also power ups, electrons and fast paced action to keep even Bill Nye the Science Guy on his toes.

Atomic Fusion feels very casual and simplistic in its gameplay, but quickly ramps ups to some rapid and hardcore action. Gone is any need to shoot things or watch out for enemies on the game space. Instead, it’s almost as if you’re playing against yourself; concerning yourself with making sure your atom is charged with energy of some sort by either colliding it with matter or anti matter, or scoring enough electrons.

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While it doesn’t claim to make you an expert on Chemistry or Physics, Atomic Fusion is a really neat game that allows you to explore the Periodic Table, while having a blast, retro arcade style. It’s overall presentation, graphics and sound are pretty stellar and will not disappoint. If you’re perusing the Google Play marketplace looking for something new, exciting, and free, look no further than Atomic Fusion.

Smashmouth Football Bashes Its Way Onto the Play Store

Smashmouth Football Bashes Its Way Onto the Play Store

Jan 27, 2014

Austin, Texas indie studio Fat Dog Mobile, has launched what they hope to be “football to be in season all year long”. Smashmouth Football, their first title out for the Google Play store, focuses on strategy and play calling, rather than users taking over individual players.

Similar in style to football strategy titles such as Tom Landy Football or NFL Head Coach, Smashmouth Football is all about playing the calls, and reading the tendencies of your opponent, in order to lead your squad to victory. One’s games are playable across any device, allowing players to pick up a game from say, their phone to their tablet.

Smashmouth Football, the latest Football coaching sim, is available on the Google Play store for free today. Download your copy here, and coach your side to victory.

MONOPOLY Bingo Review

MONOPOLY Bingo Review

Jan 23, 2014

Ever since getting their hands on the Monopoly license, EA has punched out a good number of Monopoly licensed games on the mobile platform. Games like Monopoly Slots and Monopoly Hotels take the iconic board game and expand upon it or mash it up with other styles of games. As cool as that might sound, it isn’t all its cracked up to be sometimes. In the case of these titles, more often than not, they come off as cheap marketing gimmicks, using the popular Monopoly name to garner more players and possibly more money.

Monopoly Bingo, of course, is yet another one of those games, feeling more like a desperate attempt to push an otherwise freemium Bingo game, than putting out a quality product. EA has been so hot and cold this year with their free to play lineups; FIFA 14 and Plants vs Zombies 2 knocking it out of the park, while other titles floundering. Monopoly Bingo attempts to spin the age old game of Bingo with one of Hasbro’s most popular board games, hoping to create something new and interesting. However, this attempt faltered short, instead creating a Bingo game with achievements, leveling and a backdrop that is supposedly based around Monopoly.

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If you’re one who fancies a Bingo game for your Android device, Monopoly Bingo isn’t a terrible choice. It has all of the things you’d expect in Bingo, except a Monopoly background, that feels super odd. The only real nod to the classic board game comes with certain levels named after the various properties within Monopoly. However, there are also other random levels thrown into Monopoly Bingo that don’t totally make sense.

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Luckily the in-app purchases aren’t so terrible in Monopoly Bingo. Players have to pay tickets in order to play any card of Bingo. These same tickets can also be used to have automatic dabbers. Coins can also be used to purchase scratch offs and power ups to use within Bingo matches. The real world money conversion isn’t all that terrible either, so for those who are really in a Bingo fix, you won’t go for broke.

Monopoly Bingo is pretty much what it sounds like; Bingo with a Monopoly background. Neither part of this spells a wonderful experience.

Conjurer: Awoken Review

Conjurer: Awoken Review

Jan 10, 2014

If Zombies were so 2012, H.P. Lovecraft inspired games were so 2013. It’s true that the 1920’s author’s works did not reach the levels of success that zombie titles have, but many game developers nonetheless have used the mythos from his writings as a basis of their games. Among these in 2013, is a small title called Conjurer: Awoken. This title, while not necessarily ripped from the late author’s pages, is inspired by his style and incorporates the ideas of the arcane, relics of the past, and an overlying sense of dread and horror.

But another thing that Conjurer: Awoken is, is a lot of the same old game we’ve seen time and time again. This title is a tower defense game boiled down to the most basic it could possibly be. For instance, all towers are already pre-placed, meaning there is no strategy of construction of where you place the towers, as seen in the Fieldrunners games. Rather, players can choose from one of two elements, fire or ice, to cast upon one of the “towers”. Ice slows down the enemies, while fire hurts them. You can make the affects more powerful by holding down on a particular tower longer, but the time and ability to do that depends on the mana one has.

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The story in this title, is that you are a mage, drunk on power, who has unleashed hellish beasts onto the world, and now must stop them from destroying everything. Again, while not taken from the pages of one of the best horror writers of the 20th century, it nonetheless has a little bit of his flair. Then again, the argument can be made that any creepy horror that doesn’t contain Eli Roth levels of gore could be inspired by H. P. Lovecraft, so to conjure his likeness for promotion of this game may be somewhat of a stretch. Of course, one will need to get used to those aforementioned beasts, as they will be the only enemy one will see in the entire game.

Another thing anyone will notice when playing this game, is just how ancient the overall presentation seems. The text, graphics and menu options all look like something that would’ve been exemplary in the late 90s or early 00s, but not in the second decade of the 21st Century. In fact, they feel quite underwhelming, making it even harder to get behind a title that gamewise, already comes off a little drab.

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I can appreciate what the developer of this title was going for, but Conjurer: Awoken feels like just another tower defense title. It’s graphics, presentation and overall gameplay are far from impressive, and borders on tedious. Everything about this title is plain, old, dull and something we’ve all seen before, which is unfortunate given that the game is advertised as something much better.

Pebble SmartWatch Hardware Review

Pebble SmartWatch Hardware Review

Jan 9, 2014

Wearable tech is all the new rage. From Google Glass to the Galaxy Gear, everyone seems to want a piece of the on person action. Now, sadly we haven’t seen any Android powered belts buckles or tennis shoes quite yet, but we have seen an affordable but amazing SmartWatch called the Pebble. The product of a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, this independent Palo Alto, CA company developed a SmartWatch which costs way less than the Galaxy Gear but sports many of the same capabilities. Additionally, as a wrist watch, it has comfort, functionality and style.

In light of Pebble announcing the Pebble Steel at CES 2014 just recently, the regular Pebble SmartPhone is still an awesome option. A year after its initial release, the Pebble SmartWatch is available at retailers such as Best Buy or online at Amazon. It’s capable of interacting with both iOS and Android via BlueTooth, though Android is where it really takes the cake. It also comes it at a much lower cost than the Samsung SmartWatch, and even the Pebble Steel comes in about $50 less than its Samsung competition.

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The watch itself may come off as unimpressive and a cheap knock off at first. The LED watch only appears in grayscale, lacking bright colors on the display. The colors on the Pebble is on the device itself, with the outline area around the screen coming in any of the 5 colors offered. The Pebble also lacks out of box, many of the popular features that a First Party device would have, such as the ability to answer one’s phone via the watch.

But where the Pebble SmartWatch really comes to life, is through the various first and third party apps that exist for the device. The PEbble SmartWatch prides itself on being an opensource device, with information on their website as to how to develop for the watch. Many of these third party apps add in functionalities such as the ability to answer the phone, to adding a calendar, pedometer, the ability to control the music on one’s phone, or a whole mess of other features. Pandora and some other apps are also coming to the PEbble SmartWatch, as announced at CES 2014. These apps give the watch more functionalities than other wearable tech items, while still looking cooler on your wrist and your wallet.

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Setting up the device with an Android phone takes almost no time at all. Much like many BlueTooth devices, it’s important to make sure both are discoverable, but I was able to go from unboxing the phone to having it work properly to read a test text from my wife in about 5 minutes. It also has an impressive range with which it will still notify the wearer of any activity on their phone. I was able to get notification of my wife calling me from when I was across the office.

This device is capable of really giving a user a true hands free experience. The particular app I downloaded to answer the phone will actually answer the phone in speaker mode. This device will also send your emails, text messages, Google Hangout notifications and even Facebook replies to your watch. There’s also apps that will send Twitter notifications to your Pebble, as well as many other notifications and utilities. The Pebble Watch does seem to have it all.

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The Pebble SmartWatch is probably one of the better devices out there in terms of cost, functionality, usability, operations and overall cool factor. Out of the box, it may not look like much, but an open source device always has an army of ambitious and smart people behind it. The Pebble is no exception to that, boasting a wide array of difference watch faces and apps that will do just about anything. Once you get your hands on one of these devices, it may be hard to imagine what life was like without it.

You can find more information about the Pebble, or purchase it here.

The King of Fighters ’97 Review

The King of Fighters ’97 Review

Jan 8, 2014

Despite minimal sales numbers in modern terms, SNK’s King of Fighters series is one of the most beloved fighting game franchises ever. While not quite reaching the commercial success of other 2D fighters, such as Capcom’s Street Fighter or Midway/WB’s Mortal Kombat, it nonetheless survives primarily in arcades in Asia and on consoles for more serious fighting game junkies, with the most recent iteration appearing in 2010. With a slew of other classic games from the 80’s and 90’s making their way onto the Android OS, from titles like R-Type to Sonic the Hedgehog, it’s no wonder SNK has decided to release many of the various installments of this franchise onto the mobile platform.

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Fighting games haven’t been exactly stellar on phones or tablets. Many of them have tried to incorporate the touch screen in various ways, to make it feel more than just a port with the buttons on the screen. However, trying to re-invent the wheel doesn’t always produce amazing results. Games like Injustice: Gods Among Us on mobile ended up being more of who could swipe the hardest on the screen. Other games that have used the on screen buttons, such as Fighting Tiger – Liberal, also haven’t been all that great, having wonky button controls and not the most concise response to what a player wished for the game to do.

It’s not that The King of Fighters ’97 has a progressively amazing control scheme; in fact it’s quite the opposite. The buttons on screen work well with player’s input, but aren’t phenomenal. Depending on the size of the device you’re using, your giant hands may block you from seeing most of the action on screen. Luckily, this title supports many game controllers, such as the PowerA Moga controllers, which really gives players a console or arcade like experience when playing it.

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The graphics in King of Fighters ’97 look slightly enhanced, but still use the graphics from the original 1997 release. The graphics do not look 17 years old in anyway; just enhanced to work better with the high definition screens of your Android device.

King of Fighters ’97 is probably one of the better fighting games that exist in the Google Play marketplace. While many of the same games in the fighting genre try to do something unique with the touch screen controls, KoF ’97 stays true to its roots and utilizes touch screen buttons in the classic arcade fashion, while also utilizing BlueTooth controllers. Amongst retro games and fighting titles, King of Fighters ’97 on Android is one of the better games among both of those genres.

Fiz: Brewery Management Game

Fiz: Brewery Management Game

Dec 20, 2013

It’s no secret that craft beer is the fad that brings everyone from all walks of life together; hipsters to lawyers, middle aged middle management to college students, men and women, all have enjoyed this new phenomenon where your local watering hole or liquor store doesn’t feature the same boring watered down beverages, but rather those made with passion and love that taste amazing. Similarly, the game Fiz: Brewery Management also possesses the soul of those great craft breweries; a game that was built from the ground up by a group of passionate beer drinkers, with a little financial help from those on Kickstarter.

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Many management style games utilize microtransactions or a way for the player to “cheat” their way to the next level. Players of Fiz will not see anything of the sort. Instead currency must be earned through financial management, budgeting, marketing research, beer sales, and participating in given events. While this title never let’s you completely tank, it also doesn’t make it a cake walk to earn the big bucks and become a world renown brewer either. This title really makes the player have to think and be resourceful, even more so than popular NimbleBit or Karisoft titles. Anything from where you sell, to what you sell, to how it’s made can make or break your digital brewery, much like real life.

Beer Geeks will also love the deep selection of styles of beers one can brew in Fiz. Anything from Lagers to IPAs, to Saisons and Russian Imperial Stouts and even Barleywines are some of the many types of beer you and your pocket brewery can produce for the various unseen e-customers. Of course, not all beers are created equal, as some have higher costs than others and some don’t do as well as others do at certain establishments. You could spend most of the game brewing the basic Lager and selling it at your buddy’s market, but no brewer with any merit wants to do just that. Besides, where’s the adventure and money to be made?

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Even the individual brews can be affected depending on any number of factors. The equipment in which your establishment owns to who you have on staff, can affect the quality or time it takes to make a beer. Even special modifiers can be put in which can increase player’s XP, beer quality and a number of other factors. There is an absolute ton of different things players need to factor in when trying to make that perfect beer.

There is just so much about this game that makes it a lot of fun, interesting, and a title that you just won’t be able to walk away from. It also gives players the freedom to play as much or as little as they like, with the game’s time pausing upon exit. This way one needent worry about time passing without profit. Not only is Fiz one of the most realistic management games out there, it’s probably one of the most interesting. Much like your favorite beer, once you try Fiz, you’re going to want to tell everyone else about it.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Review

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Review

Dec 20, 2013

If you were a child in the 1990’s, chances are you played at least one Sonic the Hedgehog game. Fast Forward to modern times where perhaps our spiky blue friend hasn’t been in games that captivated us quite like the original Sonic series did on the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, those older titles are nevertheless still cherished by old and new fans alike. So when Sega decided to port the arguably best iteration of the Sonic series, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, to mobile devices, people were pretty stoked.

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Sonic 2 on mobile is a slightly modified version of the 1992 Sega classic. In the mobile version, players have the choice between playing levels as Sonic, his long time companion Tales, or Knuckles the Echidna, who actually made his first appearance in Sonic 3. In addition to being able to play as any of these three characters, this port of Sonic 2 has also cleaned up the graphics just a bit to bring it to modern times. Sega has also added a plethora of new levels to this edition in order to spice it up a bit and not leave it as just another port. There’s also time trials, multiplayer, leaderboards, achievements, save points and everything else you’d expect in most mobile games. But probably one of the most overlooked new additions to this title is the display menu option of getting to see the different boxes and cartridges for various regions. One can choose from the Japanese box art, European or North American. It may not be much, but anyone who geeks out over video game history will appreciate it.

The controls do take some getting used to. As expected, the controls are an on screen joystick on the left side and the jump/spin button on the right. The action button works alright, but the joystick isn’t all that impressive unless you have tiny fingers. This game is probably best enjoyed using a bluetooth controller or something other than the onscreen controls. The on screen controls aren’t unusable, but certainly are far from perfect.

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Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on Android is a great affordable nod to the past which also gives players a little added bonus. Adopting new ideas, such as achievements and multiplayer with a classic games that’s still great to this day, is absolutely amazing. Players young and old can sink their teeth into this entertaining title, just so long as they can deal with the controls. Modern Sonic games might not be the best, but as this port proves, old school Sonic games are even better than a platter of Chili Dogs.

Sonic Dash Review

Sonic Dash Review

Dec 18, 2013

Sonic hasn’t exactly had a streak of good luck in his old age. Many of the Sonic games have been marketed towards a younger audience, turning their back on the crowd who grew up with the spiky and speedy rodent. Even the episodic Sonic 4 games, which attempted to go back to the Genesis glory, were met with mixed criticism. So when SEGA cranked out another Sonic mobile game, skepticism was natural, especially given that this game, Sonic Dash, is an endless runner.

But SEGA apparently had some magic up their sleeve when creating Sonic Dash. While it is an endless runner, there’s actual stuff to do, rather than avoiding a hoard of something behind you. In Sonic Dash, not only are there the well known rings to collect, but baddies to combat, obstacles to jump over and the occasional boss fight. Rings, as always, will keep you going in this endless runner, even if you manage to goof up. Of course, you can always use revive tokens, or watch a 15 second video for another shot at the level.

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There is also the in game currency, in the form of red stars, which allows players to buy new characters, such as Tails, Shadow, Knuckles, and more, or other in game bonuses. There are also a series of power ups players earn or can buy, which boost one’s score, amount of rings received, or other awesome perks.Additionally, there are boss fights, which show up periodically at random times, which allow you to get an even bigger score, sort of acting as a perk.

The levels are randomly generated, as they are in many endless runners, which means players won’t face the same enemies or obstacles in the same spot, nor get the same set of rings, and not necessarily get the same perks in a level as they did the last time they played. This also applies to the end of level bonuses, which can be anything from rings, to points, to puzzle pieces, or anything that aids towards the “daily challenge”.

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While it is an endless runner, using a lot of recycled game mechanics and nuances, Sonic Dash is an entertaining mobile title that will work as a great little time waster while waiting for the bus, or goofing around with. It doesn’t do anything mind blowing or terribly unique, other than the Sonic universe the game uses as a backdrop, but then again, what Sonic game has? Sonic Dash, if anything, is one of the first mobile titles with the lovable blue hedgehog that actually feels worthwhile playing.