Remember 1992, the peak of the Sega/Nintendo console war? Sega had just crawled out the pit of obscurity to take on the giant that was Nintendo, and a certain blue hedgehog named Sonic was blazing the path, charging straight for the neck of Mario and his vice grip on the gaming market. I have fond memories of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Sega Genesis. It had such memorable sounds, cool characters and such a great sense of speed. Fast forward to 2014, and I’m playing Sonic Jump Fever – an energy based, Doodle Jump clone littered with in-app purchases.
At least he’s doing what he loves – jumping. Cause everyone knows Sonic is known for jumping, not running. No, running’s for plumbers.
Sonic Jump Fever is a follow-up to the 2012 game Sonic Jump, developed by Hardlight Studios, the same studio that handled the Sonic Dash game. The gameplay itself is pretty simple: you bounce through the level, bashing baddies and collecting coins as you try to earn a high score. The game is played by moving your phone back and forth in order to land on platforms to continue climbing and a tap of the screen makes your character double jump. The game carries over the same stylized graphics and sounds from the previous Sonic Jump game with a few additions, primarily the games new move called “fever” – a sort of euphoric boost sends you flying through the air for a few seconds.
The game rotates between different zones every three days, and while the levels don’t affect the gamplay at all, they all have a unique look and callback to some of Sonic’s finer moments in gaming. The game offers point boosters and upgrades that can be bought with coins to help the player earn greater scores. What’s interesting is that Sonic Jump Fever sessions can sometimes be as short as a minute, which wouldn’t be too much of a problem if it wasn’t for the energy required to play the game.
Let me put that in perspective: Sonic Jump Fever is an energy based game. It takes 25 minutes to add 1 bar of energy, each playthrough requires 1 bar of energy and you only have 5 bars. One playthrough equals about 1 minute. In less than 10 minutes, I’ve burned through all of my energy and I’m left to either spend precious red coins on a refill, beg my Facebook friends for one, or watch ads for a free bar of energy – which can only be done 3 times a day. I’m not joking here – this is serious.
What this does is kill whatever sense of speed you would get from playing a Sonic game. Why would you want to wait 25 minutes for another chance to play? Sonic Dash and Sonic Jump got that right, but most of the game is spent clicking past ads and waiting. There are also in-app purchases that can be made to unlock coins and power-ups so that you can unlock characters faster. The prices range from $ 1.99 to a whopping $ 99 dollars. But I guess it’s worth it if you want to play as Blaze the Cat.
And speaking of characters, the game starts you off as Tails for some reason, though Sonic is quickly unlocked. Besides him, there’s also Knuckles and Amy locked away with hefty red coin price tags, with more of Sonic’s friends on the way via updates. You can also unlock characters by collecting character coins. If you collect enough of them, you’ll unlock a character. It’s nice that the game offers a few different ways to unlock characters, but the time spent unlocking the character is not worth the reward.
Another new feature is the Chao garden. Players can access the garden and search for Chao eggs, hatch them, and try to win their affection by using them as you play. You have 24 hours to win the love of your Chao, however, before it abandons you. They are pretty useful though, and their abilities range from dropping extra platforms to collecting extra rings, but nothing as deep as Sonic Adventure Chao Gardens.
Sonic Jump Fever, for all its wrong doings, isn’t a terrible game. The gamplay is simple enough and it’s kinda fun while it last – the only problem is that it doesn’t last long. The gameplay is stilted by the energy system that the game is built around and renders the game virtually unplayable for extended periods of time. If I’m gonna spend my few precious moments of gaming on my phone, there are far better free offerings to choose from.
Is it Hardcore?
Sonic Jump Fever is a perfect example of how “free-to-play” gimmicks ruin an otherwise fun experience.