Most Sonic games are about speed, but not Sonic Jump. This game eases up on the hedgehog’s need for speed and sends him jumping up, up, high into the clouds. Putting Sonic in a game inspired by Doodle Jump is a surprising choice, but it’s not a bad one. Sonic Jump takes the framework of a vertical platformer and injects it with a whole lot of great new ideas. This game is awesome.
For anyone not familiar with the genre, it goes like this: Sonic jumps automatically, and you tilt the device to make him bounce from platform to platform. If you miss a jump and fall out of the camera’s view, you’re toast. Like in any platformer, the landscape is littered with obstacles. You’ll encounter robotic enemies from Sonic games, spikes, fans, saws, falling rocks, and platforms that move, break, and disappear from under your feet. When it comes to killing you, this game is endlessly creative. Get hit once, and you lose the rings collected. Get hit again, and you’re a goner.
But you’re not powerless. If you jump into enemies from below, they die. Power-ups are scattered around, giving you the ability to take an extra hit, kill all enemies on the screen, or make rings magnetically attracted to you. Between levels, you can use the rings you’ve collected to purchase one-time-use power-ups, or to beef up the effects of the regular power-ups.
The game is divided into two halves, Story mode and Arcade mode. Story mode contains three worlds filled with pre-made levels. The worlds correspond to levels in other Sonic games, so you’ll climb through the landscapes of Green Hill Zone, Mountain Zone, and Jungle Zone. Each of these worlds bursts with color, looks fantastic, and is filled with unique obstacles and enemies. Reaching any world in Story mode unlocks it in Arcade mode, which lets you play endlessly for a high score.
And you just might want to play endlessly, because the game keeps giving you reasons to come back. At any given time you have three achievements to earn for doing things like collecting X number of coins, killing X number of enemies, or double-jumping X number of times. (Did we mention you can double-jump? You can, and it’s awesome.) Get enough of these achievements, and you level up. Reach level 17, and you unlock Tails as a playable character. Level up more, and you can play as Knuckles. In short, you won’t run out of things to do for a long, long time.
For everything that’s awesome about Sonic Jump, we do have one complaint: the Story mode has some massive difficulty spikes. When every platform below you disappears, or a spring-board launches you into five rows of spikes, you’ll have to laugh. When it happens 10 times in a row, you might lose your sanity. Of course you can always buy power-ups that save you from dying, but if you grew up playing Sonic that probably seems like cheating.
But overall Sonic Jump offers a ton of fun, and a million reasons to keep coming back. We haven’t seen a game bring this much creativity to a seemingly dead genre in a long time. Whether you grew up with Sonic or not, Sonic Jump is a total blast.