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.

SONIC RUNNERS Review

SONIC RUNNERS Review

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

Sonic Dash Released On Android

Sonic Dash Released On Android

Nov 27, 2013

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A new Sonic-themed free-to-play endless runner is now available on Android devices. The game features fully 3D rendered environments, recognizable runner gameplay, and of course, Sonic The Hedgehog himself. It really looks quite marvellous, and is available for free from here: Sonic Dash on Google Play.

KickStarter Spotlight: Read Only Memories

KickStarter Spotlight: Read Only Memories

Nov 20, 2013

The 1990’s, a time where Sega meant something more than terrible Sonic efforts, and it was a time where adventure games were arguably at their most creative. Having to blend complex narratives into such a limited technological window took some great innovation and the restrictions helped for a more focused gaming experience. Recently on KickStarter there have been a lot of games that harken back to those days. This might be because the idea of putting story before graphics makes for a very simple game to physically build, but nostalgia undoubtedly plays a major part.

So what makes this week’s Spotlight different than the rest of the heard? Other than it’s ambitious goals, and the fact that Ouya is pledging to match all donations up to over $60,000, Read Only Memories is one of the few games to place a queer character front and center. Matt Conn, founder of GaymerX; the developer for this game, stresses in their KickStarter video that this game is not meant to focus on the orientation of its characters, but on the game as a whole.

This is something that is prevalent in gaming, but is something that is rarely taken seriously. Gender roles are ignominiously cemented in video games, from first-person-shooters with Marcus Fenix clones, to women clad in strategically unfit armor, it is something that all gamers acknowledge but not much is actually being done about it. Granted, things have gotten better over the last few years, but there still are not many games with a strong queer lead, or really even a prevalent queer character not set by the user.

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In keeping with Matt’s intentions, this is a game that should be judged on it’s gaming merits first, and from that point of view this game looks awesome. Borrowing heavily from 90’s adventure games such as Snatcher, Read Only Memories takes place in futuristic Neo San Fransisco. A mysterious personal robot is delivered to the player’s house, and the game slowly unwinds from there. A strong story is told via luminous pixel artwork, and a quality soundtrack put together by multiple legitimate artists.

All this, and it’s placement of realistic characters, help make this game really stand out from the regular KickStarter crowd. So, please check out their page, and remember Ouya is matching any donation.