Sonic Jump, while similar in concept, is not a clone of Doodle Jump. It is a Sonic game in just about every conceivable way, save for the fact that the player is jumping straight up instead of running to the right. Sonic Jump was made available last week for $0.99 on iOS and $1.99 on Android, with a fair amount of optional micro-transactions available in-game. We tested the game on devices ranging from the iPhone 3GS to the Nexus 7, and it ran smoothly with no problems on all devices. Does Sonic’s latest adventure fly high like other, recent efforts? Or does he fall flat in this spin-off?
Sonic Jump will seem very familiar to the two types of people that approach it, for different reasons. Fans of Doodle Jump and similar titles will find the basic mechanics to be nothing new- jump automatically and endlessly upward via small platforms, steering with the gyro sensor, avoiding obstacles and taking out enemies. While this is in stark contrast to what Sonic veterans are accustomed to, there is still much familiarity to be found in Sonic Jump for those people. Rings are plentiful, and are used to boost the end level score and protect the player in event of tragedy. Items boxes give Sonic a boost or shield. Enemies have to be hit in a specific way- counter-intuitively from the bottom- and not from other angles. And yes, players will die from hazards that they had no way of seeing before they got there and will have to rely on level memorization to clear quickly without damage.
Adding more to the familiarity for Sonic fans are zones that look like they could be plucked from any other Sonic game- and some of them are. A slight change is that there are a whopping ten acts per zone, plus two fights with Robotnik, the mastermind behind the poor animals’ plight. The game launched with only three zones for a total of 36 levels, but as of this writing an additional zone has been tacked on with the promise of more “coming soon”.
Sonic Jump, despite having a large number of levels, is actually fairly short. Each act takes around 45 to 75 seconds, meaning you could feasibly complete all 48 in under an hour. The first run made at FanBolt was done in one sitting. Fortunately, Sonic Jump remedies this in a number of ways. First up is a nice difficulty spike that will cause you to have to replay some levels multiple times, but never too many times. The Green Hill Zone is easy as pie, featuring generously large platforms and few enemies. As the player progresses, platforms get smaller, break away, move, and flip to expose spikes. Enemies and hazards like falling boulders are more numerous and erratic in movement. There are also a large helping of challenges to be completed, which will require the player to traverse levels in different ways and approach hazards instead of avoid them. Completing challenges causes leveling up, and leveling up rewards the player with alternative characters and bonus items to help get through tougher levels with higher scores.
Finally, replay is much extended by ranking the player’s performance on a not-so-generous scale. Shaving off precious seconds, collecting the three red rings in each level, and ending with as many rings as possible will boost the player’s scores, which are in turn posted to leaderboards. Unfortunately, this is where the micro-transactions tarnish the game a bit. Those unlockable bonus items that can give you a boost or save you from falling must be purchased with rings collected in the game. Unfortunately they cost quite a few rings, more than can be collected without a considerable amount of grinding- grinding that can become wearisome in little time. Those looking to post the highest scores can simply buy rings with real money and use them repeatedly every attempt, which is a little discouraging.
Sonic Jump, while not a traditional Sonic adventure, is a decent outing for the titular blue hero. It does its best to replicate the look and feel of Sonic in spite of its gameplay mechanics. That said, there were a few quirks that, in stark contrast to last year’s release of Sonic CD, killed the fan-service appeal of the game. The cool comic-book style cut scene after each boss is the same every time. And the soundtrack leaves a lot to be desired- frankly, it does not sound like Sonic at all. These little things prevent it from joining the ranks of our favorite Sonic games and spinoffs, but it is not a bad game by any means; it will more than likely stay installed on our phones for the future updates. All in all, Sonic Jump is an enjoyable game to play through, and is worth the purchase to do so.