I've been a Sonic fan almost as long as I've been alive. The original Sonic the Hedgehog was the first game I ever played at the ripe old age of five, and since then, there have been a lot of ups and downs. Thankfully, the series seems to be on the upswing lately, with titles like Sonic Generations, Sonic Colors, and Sonic and All Stars Racing Transformed doing surprisingly well with critics and fans alike. Sonic's latest appearance is in Sonic Jump, a new vertical platformer that launched last week on Android. Does this new title keep Sega's string of good Sonic releases going? Do we dare hope?
If you've played games like Doodle Jump, you already know the basic premise behind Sonic Jump. You'll initially control Sonic as he jumps upward toward the end of each level, collecting rings and defeating Badniks (they're still called Badniks here in 2012, right?) along the way. Once you've reached the end of the level, you'll receive a letter grade based on how fast you made it to the finish and how many hits you took as you were climbing.
Sonic is constantly jumping, and this is something you don't have any control over. What you do have control over is the direction of his jumps. By tilting your device to the left or right, you can control Sonic's jumps, making sure you line up to hit that spring and launch into a column of rings or land on the right platform. Of course, there are plenty of hazards on the way up, including spikes and platforms that crumble once you land on them.
This, as you can imagine, makes it pretty difficult to hold onto the rings you collect, which you'll want to do since those are used as currency for the in-game store. It's here that you can buy power-ups to use as you play, similar to the mechanic found in Jetpack Joyride, or unlock new characters to play as including Knuckles and Tails. Each of these different characters have a special ability that's uniquely their own, so you'll want to save up your rings and unlock them as soon as you can. More items will become available to purchase as you increase your level – something which is done through completing tasks. Tasks range from fairly easy to down right difficult, so some of them may be waiting to be completed for quite some time.
At the end of each zone (which are comprised of various acts), you'll do battle with Eggman. These boss battles serve to break up the action a bit, as you're not trying to get to the top of the level as fast as you can. Instead, you're obviously trying to defeat the boss, and I'm pleased to say that they prove to be pretty fun. I liked them a lot, and they typically came in right when I was getting sick of racing against the clock.
There are ton of different acts to work your way through in the story mode – Sega has the number at 48 over on the game's Google Play listing – but if you want a real challenge, there's also an endless mode available. I love endless modes, and this one doesn't disappoint, especially considering that there are leaderboards you can post your scores to. The fact that Sonic Jump has an endless mode gives it a much deeper level of replayability, as you'll want to keep attempting new personal bests.
Overall, the game is a blast to play. There's a lot of content to play through and unlock, but if you don't want to collect all the rings on yourself, Sega is of course all too willing to sell you rings for cold hard cash. While playing, I found that the need to purchase rings isn't really there, as you seem to rack them up quickly so long as you can avoid taking a hit (or, alternatively, get to the safe and stash them away mid-level before taking that heartbreaking hit).
My one complaint would have the be that the graphics don't look as good as they could have on my Atrix HD's screen. The screenshots Sega put up on Google Play look great, but sadly the game didn't end up looking quite that good for me. The game still looks nice, but the visuals aren't as sharp as Sega's own screenshots would suggest.
If you're a Sonic fan, then I definitely recommend checking out Sonic Jump. Even if you're just a fan of platformers, this one should keep you busy for quite a while. It does require a payment of $1.99 to get going, but I don't think that's bad at all considering the amount of content you get. Sega has promised that it will be updating the game eventually with more free characters too, so you'll be buying this game knowing that it's only going to get bigger from here on out. Chalk up another victory for the hedgehog with an attitude, because Sonic Jump definitely doesn't disappoint as a bite-sized mobile offering. If you're interested, you can nab it now from the Google Play Store [download link].