Which mobile-exclusive Sonic game is the best?
Sonic the Hedgehog is probably best known these days for having a slew of mediocre and terrible games under the moniker, but I still have a soft spot for the Blue Blur. After all, I do like to go fast.
The official Sonic games available for mobile fall under two categories: ports of titles from other consoles and original mobile games. Here we're going to be focusing on the three mobile-only games Sonic Dash, Sonic Jump Fever, and Sonic Runners.
As with the majority of other free to play mobile games, Sonic's big mobile three are plagued with in-app purchases and ads. This in itself is pretty irritating and can make the games unbearable for some, but our focus here is on the gameplay. Which of the three mobile Sonic games is the most "Sonic"-y? That's the real question.
Sonic Jump Fever - Gotta go up?
Sonic Jump Fever is pretty well removed from typical Sonic gameplay. Instead of running, you're jumping vertically from platform to platform using your phone or tablet's tilt sensor to control the direction you jump. There is no running.
If the above sounds unappealing, it initially was for me, too. Jump Fever is an exercise in repetition, but it's definitely one that grows on you. This is especially the case if you have friends to compare daily scores with.
The game's tilt controls are on-point and generally responsive, but ultimately it doesn't feel like a Sonic the Hedgehog game due to a general lack of speed. Going higher and challenging your friends' high scores that day is fun in its own right, but it's hard to say an endless jumping game feels like Sonic. Because it doesn't. You're just not able to go fast enough.
Ultimately, Sonic Jump Fever isn't anything to write home about if you're looking for a Sonic title for mobile. It doesn't feel like it fits the series, and with only seven stages that rotate on a daily basis, there's really not much to be done in the game either. It's not the worst game out there, but it's not really a Sonic game.
Sonic Dash - Gotta go forward
This is the most well-known mobile game in the Sonic franchise right here, and I'm just going to come out and say I don't like it.
Sonic Dash was the first out of these three games to be released, right during Temple Run's peak of popularity. It definitely shows, since the game is little more than a Temple Run rip-off in an almost palatable Sonic the Hedgehog flavor. This said, it's still closer to a Sonic experience than Jump Fever.
Dash controls much like every other forward-running endless runner on mobile devices. Swipe up to jump, down to slide, left and right to dodge obstacles; and sometimes you get to boost and actually go fast. They're generally responsive, but they don't make up for how bland the game is overall.
Sonic Dash still -- despite the occasional boost mode where you do go fast -- does not feel like a Sonic game. Not only is it a blatant rip-off of Temple Run, but it's just not fast enough overall. Those brief boost modes are nice, but they don't make up for the rest of the package.
Sonic Runners - Gotta go fast
Sonic Runners is my personal pick for best Sonic mobile game by a long shot. If you're a long time fan of the series, there's almost no way you'd prefer Dash over Runners. Runners is just too close to an actual Sonic game to prefer Dash or Jump Fever over it. Unfortunately there's one way it might be a little too close to a mainline Sonic game.
Unlike Dash, which has you running forward, Runners has you running to the right a la classic Sonic. You go progressively faster as you push through a single stage, until you're going fast enough that -- Yes! This feels like a Sonic game.
Runners is the best option you have if you want to go very fast for prolonged periods, while being sufficiently challenged along the way. The game's stages are randomly generated from set pieces, which you eventually learn and memorize the patterns of for faster response times and hence more points.
Sonic Runners is undoubtedly the most befitting free to play Sonic mobile game, but it's not without its problems. I haven't talked about monetization at all in this article thus far and I'm not about to -- monetization in these types of games is always kind of atrocious. The real problem is the unreasonably long load times.
A single level could take anywhere from 30 seconds to over a minute to load on your device, depending on processing power and (seemingly) how the game is feeling that day. The load times are seriously nearly on par with Sonic 06, which is undoubtedly why the game is rated lower than Dash. Not everyone has the patience or time to sit through that. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), I do.
Sonic Runners is the most authentic free to play Sonic experience you're going to find on Google Play and the App Store by a long shot, from the super speeds and challenging gameplay down to a terrible issue (in this case, loading) that makes the game unbearable for your average person. If you're an avid fan or you just like to go really fast, this is the one for you.