[UPDATE 2: If you’re outside of Japan and want to play this on your Android device, you can download the APK file here.]
[UPDATE: Read below for a lovely write up by forum member Roybertito about the game and some of its nuances.]
As seems to be the case with mobile games and their oblong release dates, Sonic Runners bursts out of the warp zone and onto your friendly local digital shop. There are some caveats, however.
As of this time of writing, I am unable to download the title on any of my three Android devices (a Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 2013 running on the latest version of Licorice, and an Xperia X10 running on Gingerbread) on the Google Play Store but those on the Apple side of the digital world have already gotten the game running. Interestingly, the version released is marked as 1.0.0t, representing it’s a test build. Of course, the humor isn’t lost in the event that another Sonic related thing was leaked early, as has seemingly become a trend in some capacity.
Regardless, early reports show the game plays like an auto runner ala Rayman Jungle Run with you in control of Sonic and friends’ movements as they zip through the grassy knolls of Sonic Lost World’s
Green Hill Recolor #29 Windy Hill Zone. And if that isn’t enough to tickle your free-to-play mobile game fancy, plenty of microtransactions are included! One such, as posted over on Sonic Stadium’s Twitter via H Hog, invites players to invite their friends to play the game for a bounty of red star rings and the chance to play as series fan girl and general annoyance, Amy Rose. But only if you get 10 friends to join the game!
Remember, we’re dealing with normal Amy here, not arguably better Boom Amy.
Regardless, with the game now on the shops and playable on the iOS side of things, it’ll only be a matter of time before Android users can join in on the fun and advertising.
Forum member Roybertito has been updating on the forums with information as he goes through the game. Here’s a fairly sizable account of the game so far:
Here’s some screenshots! This album will update periodically! I have documented the IAP structure as well as I can! It appears Red Rings can be exchanged for spins on the “Premium Roulette”, which lets you unlock companion items (RC things from Colors/Lost World, Chao, Chip), or for rings. There is also a daily roulette that lets you unlock Color powers and Items, which can also be bought with Rings. Rings also buy you “Revive Tokens” – I have four of these, and they appear to regenerate. I’m guessing energy? But they don’t deplete in the that way. These are possibly just “number of actual falls you’re allowed” because they’ve only disappeared when I’ve actually died. Presumably, Rings also let you buy characters – I haven’t gotten that far yet.
This all comes off to me as a potentially brutal IAP system, but I’m just going to swallow it for now because the player is basically buried in rings during the actual game and they’re giving every player 2 dollars worth of Red Rings for free every day so it could be worse.
As far as gameplay goes, there’s some stuff of note. You can indeed not do anything but tap to jump. Spin dash happens if you don’t jump while going down hill at a certain speed. There are rainbow rings – and boy are they fun to get through. Companion items boost your score or hurt enemies or other buffs/environment or badnik nerfs. You can have a “character” and a “sub character” who level up as you move through the Story Episodes, which are given to the player in text dialogue boxes that appear between each run. There is a set goal in each run, after which the player continues running until they finally die. My high score is 188,000ish. There’s a ranking system, but no single player has gotten above rank F, it seems. If you unlock or purchase an item, it’s not simply given to you (outside of the first time), it’s placed in your run as an item box which you need to actually *bop* to use. There are Color powers here but they do not involve motion controls (thankfully).
There is a very typical level up system, and when I say typical I mean typical for a mobile game. As you would expect from a Hardlight title like Dash or City Rush, the upgrade system serves not to upgrade Sonic but to upgrade his abilities, like the effect duration of Color powers or item boxes.
Orbot and Cubot are in it. The dialogue is kinda funny and light. So far the stories have been Eggman trying to capture animals, but I can see how this has room for expansion and deeper content. There’s an Event system, and right now all new players get 25 Red Rings every day for logging in, in addition to the “10 Friends for Amy!” thing. I’m guessing in future we may see some cool story-centric events. A lot of this is similar to Lost World. New Color powers like Indigo Asteroid return, and in addition to Windy Hill and other environments being reused along with models, we see a return of the parkour mechanic – if the player jumps and barely misses the edge of the next platform, Sonic runs up the side, and the parkour sound effect plays. The music is great – there’s some new stuff, but also some stuff from Unleashed-Lost World. Overall this just feels like kind of the standardized “new modern Sonic” if anything, and it’s… y’know, it’s what we’ve got. The art is nice. Models are cute.
There’s Japanese text that appears in the English version, specifically in the Game Center drop-down and in the name creation screen. The game’s a bit choppy, and apparently was built in Unity which is a first for Sonic Team, I think. I can see why this is in soft-launch and why they don’t think it’s ready for global release, but I can also see a fully polished version of this becoming a successful little title, and it’s certainly more fun and packed with content than anything Hardlight put out.
I’m not going to say I’m not bitter about Sega Networks eclipsing Sega going forward, and I’m not going to say this is on par with a console title. I’m also not going to excuse the awful in-app purchases. But am I gonna play a ton of this on subway? Am I really going to enjoy myself while I do? Heck yes. It’s fast and it’s fun and it’s colorful and I genuinely hope it does really well – if not just for all of our sake.