A look back… at Sonic CD

A look back… at Sonic CD

Feb 28, 2018

A while back — more than six years ago to be exact — we took a look at Sonic CD, which brought our blue speedster to Android devices in a retro way. In light of “Sonic CD Classic” making the rounds on the Google Play “best new” lists, we figured it’s the perfect time to rekindle Carter Dotson’s review:

Sonic CD is back for the new generation, albeit only being distributed via digital media this time around. I am not exaggerating when I say that Sonic CD is quite possibly the best port job of a game to mobile ever. While Sega’s Genesis emulation engine has worked a lot better on the more-powerful hardware than it did back in the days of the iPhone 3G, this native engine is a blessing. Designed by Sonic super-fan Christian Whitehead, who designed an engine for running classic Sonic games with their specific physics on any hardware the engine was ported to. Sonic nerds are unstoppable.

Sonic CD follows the basic format of every Sonic game so far: run to right, collect rings, perform the general act of “platforming”. What Sonic CD does differently is in its rarely-imitated time travel system. Players cross “Past” and “Future” lampposts, which will send the player to the past and future after running at top speed for a certain amount of time. In the past, players can find a robot generator that, if destroyed, guarantees a “good future”, where everything is sunshine, rainbows, and happiness, and I mean that pretty much literally. Getting the good future in the first two acts makes the third act, which is a boss fight, a good future, and often makes it easier.

The engine looks and runs perfectly on Android, and very crisp on high-resolution screens. The game supports Android tablets perfectly as well. That the game is running on a new engine instead of a port means that new tweaks and features can be added, and added they have. The spin dash from Sonic 2 and later can be used in replacement of the Sonic CD spin dash, and Tails can be unlocked when beating the game. Tails makes it easier to explore the levels.

The game itself holds up really well; the time travel aspect is not something seen in many other games, and and it emphasizes both adventure, in trying to discover the locations of the generators, and speed, in trying to travel in time in the first place. The soundtracks are great as well; both the original Japanese soundtrack and the American soundtrack are available, so hardcore Sonic fans can finally listen to the game in the way they want to.

Pretty much the only issue with Sonic CD is the controls; the d-pad is kind of small, but that’s about it. The game holds up really well, and its relative scarcity in terms of re-releases makes it only that much more special now. Plus, the reworked engine makes the game feel just like it did back in the halcyon days of 1993, unlike other emulated titles that are exact replications of their original titles. Anyone who’s a fan of the 16-bit era, and especially those who haven’t played this gem yet. The love and work that went into this game is impressive.

Sonic Forces: Speed Battle Review

Sonic Forces: Speed Battle Review

Dec 11, 2017

No matter how fast life goes, I doubt it would be so fast that we wouldn’t have time to try to catch up with everybody’s favorite hedgehog, Sonic. As our favorite masked speedster makes a bigger footprint on mobile devices, we can’t help but celebrate one of his latest iterations: Sonic Forces: Speed Battle.

Not a lot of confusing stuff in this one. If you’ve ever played a Sonic game, you’ll feel right at home, with the dashing looks and zoom-zoom animations. Hey, Sonic deserves cool looks, and in this game, he and his cohorts seemingly gets what he wants. It plays in landscape, and utilizes interesting worlds and glitzy backgrounds that house wild raceways bathed in bright colors.sonic3

The action is just what we’s expect: you against random opponents, and race for pints. The raceways are chock-full of helpers and hindrances, so its important to figure out which is which. It feels a lot like three-laned runners, because you have to swipe up/down and right/left to avoid things or collect stuff.

And, as always, this is war. There’s nothing cooler than collecting a fireball to launch at an opponent up ahead, and it’s almost more fun than winning. Still winning garners points, which can be used for upgrades necessary to perform better and unlock tougher challenges.

Pretty tidy.

There are opportunities to use real cash (such as ad removal), and the game is fairly self-contained.

The game is very sonic-y, in that it is just what Sonic and Sega fans should like: high octane arcade racing with plenty of obstacles and weaponized collectibles. This isn’t just about getting from point A to point B the fastest; it’s about deft touch and blasting other competitors to point C. It is familiar, but mostly manages to be fun, and is great for furtive episodes and maybe even longer stretches of play when required. The simple personalizations increase its potential likability, and by not straying too far from its source, Sonic Forces: Speed Battle probably increases its value the most… even across age groups.

SEGA Forever looks to take us way back with retro games on Android

SEGA Forever looks to take us way back with retro games on Android

Jun 22, 2017

Ah yes… the good old days.

Those of us that were lucky cut our teeth on SEGA games. Now, SEGA is letting us to relive those heady times with several retro-ish games.

For free.

The “SEGA Forever” collection starts out with five fan favorites featuring some of gaming’s most iconic characters… and there are more to come.

SEGA Mobile West CMO Mike Evans talks about the nostalgia and rediscovery. “Above all else SEGA Forever is a celebration of nostalgia. It’s about allowing fans to reconnect with past experiences and share them with family and friends in an accessible and convenient way,” he says. “Join us on a journey of rediscovery as we roll out two decades of classic games free on mobile. Create your own ‘SEGA Forever folder’ and collect your favorite classics. Enjoy moments of nostalgia on the go, or sync a Bluetooth controller to enjoy a console-like experience in your living room. SEGA Forever democratizes retro gaming, and seeks to change how the world plays, rediscovers, and shares in classic game experiences.”

Here is a linked list of games that are available now.

Sonic The Hedgehog
Comix Zone
Phantasy Star II
Kid Chameleon
Altered Beast

The games are free (with ads); alternatively, one can look to kill the ads via in-app payment.

Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom Review

Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom Review

Oct 27, 2015

If there’s one think Sonic does very well, beyond providing a positive image of spiny mammals and making his enemies stress, it’s running. This attribute is on full, glorious display in Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom.

The gameplay will be far from mysterious for anyone who has tried a three-laned runner; it’s in the same vein as Temple Run. One gets a top down view, with the gameplay happening in portrait. Visually, it will again be familiar to fans ofsd3 the Sonic universe, with plenty of deliberate colors and fun animations. The sounds are cheery, and pay homage to the arcade beginnings, and altogether it’s a smooth presentation.

But as for the gameplay itself, again, it’s familiar fare. Sonic is front and center as our main star, and his job is to navigate the running area; of course, there are a slew of dangerous obstacles that are looking to end the run of our hero hedgehog. To avoid them, one can gesture swipe to the left and to the right, which causes Sonic to hop into an adjacent lane when possible. Swiping up makes him jump over obstacles, and swiping down makes him skid under airborne pieces. Timing is everything, as a mistimed action can have bad consequences.

To make things interesting, there are a bunch of collectibles, too, and they lend themselves to the console version, what with magnets and game coins and temporary invulnerability and such. They are placed strategically, such that it takes a bit of daring to collect them; opportunity cost situations abound. As one goes on, one is sees special powers and windy paths, with breakaway sections and the like. It gets faster and tougher too, with objectives and even tilt controls added to the mix.

It’s pretty straightforward: run far, avoid obstacles, profit. Not a lot of complexity, but one cannot complain about a game that is easy to pick up and play. There are in-app purchase opportunities, but the game also provides non-monetary means of expediting things.

All in all, easy does it. It’s Sonic, after all.



Jul 10, 2015

Sonic does his thing platform-style in SONIC RUNNERS, and if there is one thing we know, one almost has to do the check-up thing here. It is Sonic, after all.

It is a bold visual presentation; it pays homage to other Sonic games with its enthusiastic color scheme that exhibits purposefully vivid shades: bright blues, greens, reds and just about everything in between and beyond. The animations are quite fluid, which is pretty much a must for games of this type. The sound score is appropriately arcade-y, with highs and lows that underscore the gameplay, and the two elements (sound and visuals) come together quite well.

On the gameplay side, it is an easy-to-understand affair; 2D side-scrolling platformer, from left to right, featuring our speedster as the protagonist. Sonic races through a staggered runway, with plenty of goodies and offsetting obstacles/dangers; the opening sequences serve as a tutorial to guide a player through the basics of gaining and surviving, and do not let one go on unless a degree of proficiency is shown. Upon starting, Sonic moves forward perpetually; tapping the screen causes him to jump forward, while double-tapping induces Sonic to perform a double jump, which is quite useful in several instances.


In several respects, the game plays just like the “regular” platformer the game is based on. Beyond the stationary obstacles that are present, there are moving baddies as well, that creep from right to left. One can jump over or even on these to neutralize them, but a mistimed move can be injurious to the player, as there are lethal gaps in the running path. The devious Dr Eggman is present, and serves as a boss of sorts from early on. It is a very fast-paced game, with plenty of action to be had from the start of the run to whenever it ends, with bonuses, power-ups and more making their well appreciated presences felt. The in-app store is well-stocked, and can be accessed with both earned virtual cash or the real kind. One highlight is the ability to unlock (and run as) other characters.

SONIC RUNNERS does get busy in parts, almost too much so. In some segments, there might be the urge to just “jump” one’s way through. It is a big game as well, and the backstory feels a little contrived in areas.

As far as platformers go, it’s hard to give anything with Sonic the side eye for too long, and that is the bottom line here.

Super Monkey Ball Bounce Review

Super Monkey Ball Bounce Review

Sep 17, 2014

Super Monkey Ball Bounce has a lot of problems, and being a cash cow is just one of them. It is a shame to see what Sega has done to the once beloved series of challenging games.


When you love Peggle or games like Peggle, you will clearly enjoy Super Monkey Ball Bounce. That game doesn’t just take inspiration from Peggle, it rips it off completely. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing; one can better steal something good, than make up something bad. It is all in the details; and with details, I mean stuff like themes, power ups and level design. And that’s the part Super Monkey Ball Bounce doesn’t fail to be enjoyed by gamers. Because the base is pretty good.

But the other problems – oh my God. This game has some pretty annoying performance issues. Not only did my LG Nexus 5 (which is a more than decent phone to play new Android games on, I might add) get pretty hot, like, all the time, it also showed some irritating slow down, frame drops and left me with an overall impression of lazy development. These kind of issues are fixable, even before launching a game. Or maybe it is just to heavy for Android phones nowadays, I don’t know.

Being a free to play title, I can assure you that you will be bothered with making in-app purchases. Although they might not be that annoying and present at first – the further you’ll come, the more the games will ask you to pay for something. You can get special coins to play on after losing all of your balls, get some new outfits for the gang or monkeys, and so on. And this makes the app stutter even more. Damn, that is so annoying. Sega, please fix this, because, you know what…

I actually like to play this game.

I am willing to sit through those irritating ads in moments the game asks me to pay up some dollars. I am willing to forgive the publisher for turning one of the best franchises on GameCube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox around in to a casual experience. And I am willing to accept that I like this game, despite those things. So when the performance issues are gone, I can actually recommend this game. But for now, when you download it, you’ll have to be patient.

SEGA Updates Dragons Coins and Kingdom Conquest II

SEGA Updates Dragons Coins and Kingdom Conquest II

Sep 2, 2014

SEGA is getting update-happy with updates to two of its apps on the Play Store.

First up is Dragon Coins; per the informational, the new update includes:

– PVP gameplay for the first-time ever!
– Summon unique and rare monsters in the new Battle Chest
– Excess experience on base monsters now carries over to evolved form
– Earn Battle Coins for both offensive/defensive victories

Not to be left out, Kingdom Conquest II is also getting good developer care:

– New monster called the Full Moon Bunny (although it doesn’t howl, its familiar with the full moon)
– New Registrants: 7050 CP worth of utility and boost items. Also plentiful tickets to be given away that can be redeemed for monster packs
– Login Bonus Event: In addition to regular login bonus, you’ll also get extra bonuses related to utility and boost items
– New Full Pack Available for Purchase: new registrants willl receive one free draw from the Full Moon Pack (Full Moon Pack will contain the limited time Full Moon Bunny)

Both games are available for free (with optional in-app purchasing) on the Play Store.

Super Monkey Ball Bounce, a Pachinko Take on the Classic Series, Coming Soon from SEGA

Super Monkey Ball Bounce, a Pachinko Take on the Classic Series, Coming Soon from SEGA

May 19, 2014

SEGA has announced their latest mobile game, Super Monkey Ball Bounce. This game, taking after pachinko and Peggle, will have players bouncing the cutesy spherical monkeys around to break pins and pegs for high scores. The game is planned as a free download, and will release for mobile platforms including Android later this summer.

Sonic Racing Transformed Review

Sonic Racing Transformed Review

Apr 18, 2014

When it comes to kart racing, Sonic is the man. And the hedgehog. Whatever… Sonic is the consummate console competitor, and he and his friends have done well on mobile devices too. Sonic Racing Transformed is yet another opportunity for us all to see how fast our blue bandit has come on Android OS.

It is an intense game, and definitely not for the device spec faint of heart. There are two modes off the bat, Single player and multi player, with the single optioning into the advertised new World Tour. There is also the Weekly Challenge, which allows players to compete for streaks and prizes.

In the World Tour, it’s all about racing as we know Sonic to race. The vehicles are closer to real gear than karts, but the mechanism and feel is still the same. Using optional virtual controls that are nestled in the bottom left sonic1along with the miscellaneous gear counters on other parts of the screen, the idea is to jockey for position, avoid obstacles and deployed weapons while deploying your own to thwart the competition. It’s leveled play, with success in a current level needed to unlock higher levels. One interesting aspect is the ability to play these levels at different difficult levels, with correspondingly different payouts. This makes it possible to have a semi-new feel even after cycling through a few times, as there is a tangibly different feel on different difficult levels.

The basics of Sonic racing are all present; windy, windy roads, light play, collectible goodies and more. The different racing environments are a discovery all by themselves, with creatively transformative vehicles matching the creative locations. The game employs tasks, and there are rings that can be garnered by placing well. Rings can be used to get the boosts and characters necessary to be successful, but they are in short supply.

The multiplayer option allows for folks to compete with others, local and otherwise. While the game is stated to be compatible with third-party controllers, I didn’t get an opportunity to use one.

It’s a fun piece of software; there are in-app purchases, even after purchase, but it does pack a lot of play in its fine-tuned raceways.

Sega Hopes to Make Some Crazy Money With Upcoming Free-to-Play Crazy Taxi: City Rush

Sega Hopes to Make Some Crazy Money With Upcoming Free-to-Play Crazy Taxi: City Rush

Mar 14, 2014

Sega has announced Crazy Taxi: City Rush, an endless runner…er, driver, based on the hit arcade and Dreamcast game that made its way to mobile. Featuring one-touch swipe controls, customizable taxis, and the guidance of Kenji Kanno, who created the original Crazy Taxi (which is free on Google Play for a limited time), this could be an interesting approach to a classic game, rebuilt as a free-to-play mobile title. The game is being developed by Hardlight, who made Sonic Jump and Sonic Dash. The game is currently in soft launch phase, so it’s quite possible players will be driving through the streets very soon. Until then, check out these screens and teaser trailer for the game.

Latest Sonic Dash Update Brings Dr. Eggman Into The Game

Latest Sonic Dash Update Brings Dr. Eggman Into The Game

Feb 20, 2014

Sonic Dash 3

After the latest update to Sonic Dash, a free-to-play infinite runner, the players will have to deal with Sonic’s arch-nemesis, Dr. Robotnik (or Eggman, if you wanna be like that). He is, of course, the enemy in the hardest boss battle in the game. Sonic Dash can be downloaded for free from here: Sonic Dash on Google Play.

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.


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.


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.