Game Reviews

Sonic Jump

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| Sonic Jump
Sonic Jump
| Sonic Jump

Trying to do something new and innovative with a well-established brand can be tricky. Robbie Williams' 80s-apeing Rudebox album flopped sales-wise, for example, while fizzy-drink marketing bigwigs still go pale at the mention of the disaster that was New Coke.

On the other hand, frizzy-headed boy-band muppet Justin Timberlake has turned himself into Justin Trousersnake, making women go wobbly at the knees around the world. And by casting a girly wimp who can't swim (according to all the tabloids), Casino Royale was one of the best Bond movies ever.

In other words, relaunches are risky, but they can pay off. So which camp will Sonic Jump fall into?

The game is based around Sega's blue hedgehog, who millions of gamers know and love for his speedy 2D platformers, and more recently for some variable-quality 3D outings. But Sonic Jump does something new with the little fella. In contrast to the historically faithful Sonic The Hedgehog games, which came out on mobile last year (split between Part 1 and Part 2), Sonic Jump makes him go... upwards.

It's a vertically-scrolling platform game that has Sonic bouncing from platform to platform, in order to reach the top of levels. Along the way, there are enemies to bump off by spinning into them and rings to collect.

Beware though: if you hit an enemy when you're not spinning, all your rings will be spilled like an explosion in a jewellers. If it happens a second time, you die. Meanwhile, if you miss a jump and fall to the bottom of the screen you're on, you die too, as the levels only scroll one way: upwards.

Along the way, you can grab bonuses, spring high on big springy things, and try not to get caught out by platforms that disappear after being jumped on once. Meanwhile, at the end of every zone – a group of three levels – a boss character awaits to be dispatched by, well, bouncing on them.

It all looks good, with graphics that are faithful to the more traditional Sonic games – including levels named and styled after the zones in the original titles.

However, Sonic Jump isn't a great game. The accessible controls (you just move right and left to steer jumps, or press up for an extra boost) are negated by the frustration factor when you miss a platform and plummet to your doom.

There are checkpoints along the way, which you resume from when you die, but they're few and far between. This is the core problem with Sonic Jump – as a casual one-thumb game, it should appeal to a wide base of mobile users, who might find traditional Sonic games a bit hard. Yet the difficulty level is pitched way above their heads.

Meanwhile, though Sonic fans may be attracted by the idea of a new game based on their favourite character, Sonic Jump is missing a key element that made the hedgehog an icon – the speed.

Sonic Jump is an interesting idea, and it's nice to see publishers trying new things on mobile rather than just rehashing retro games. But unfortunately, in this case, the risk doesn't quite come off.

Sonic Jump

Playable enough vertically scrolling platformer, but not a classic