Arguably the best part of the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 of yesteryear was the Chaos Emerald bonus stages. You remember those, don't you? The camera jumped behind Sonic's shoulder and he hustled forward all on his own while you wove him from side to side to collect rings and dodge obstacles.

Those stages unwittingly created the template for the droves of endless runners available on the App Store today, so the logical next step for the spiky blue hedgehog was an endless runner built around ye olde bonus stages, don't you think? Enter Sonic Dash [Free], a fun runner plagued by the same problems that plague most endless runners.

Sonic Dash is all about swerving around enemies, rocks, pits, and other hazards to collect rings. Swipe the screen left and right to switch lanes, swipe up to jump, and swipe down to perform Sonic's trademark roll, which you can use to clobber the enemies puttering around the environments. You can change direction in midair, drop straight down into a roll to treat enemies in your path like bowling pins, and weave around pillars and rocks on a dime.

The only catch is you'll have to swipe twice to reach the far lane when you're on the far side of the screen: once to reach the center, and once more to get to the opposite lane. This makes it tricky to dodge hazards in rapid succession, but Sonic never once failed to snap to when I told him to move, leaving only my reflexes to blame. In fact, I looked forward to moving through long strings of hurdles simply because moving Sonic is so effortless and fun.

Deciding when to dart in after a ring tucked just behind a rock and right in front of an enemy requires split-second decision-making and self-control. If you cross the finish line without getting hit, you bank your rings, which you can use to buy items such as a head start, which lets you start races as an invincible blur. But get hit by an enemy and you lose your rings, as Sonic tradition dictates. Resisting the urge to lunge after a cluster of rings can mean the difference between banking 100-plus rings, or crossing the finish line with zip, zero, zilch.

Sonic Dash wouldn't be an endless runner if it didn't try to nickel-and-dime you with IAP. Miss a jump and want to pick up where you left off? You can buy revival tokens using red rings, which you earn by completing optional missions. Or, naturally, you can pay real money for packs of red and gold rings.

Saving up gold rings isn't so difficult, but earning red rings requires a hefty time investment, so prepare to grind or get used to starting over every few minutes. You don't have to buy the IAP, of course, but given the leaderboards connectivity, you might find yourself wondering if your friend at the top of the food chain paid his way there or earned his spot.

Sonic Dash is free right now, so give it a try. Whether or not you'll want to pay more into the game for a coin doubler or currency packs requires almost as little consideration: if you like endless runners, you'll like this one, too.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Jerutix

    Good review. Despite being annoyed that the game went Free to Play so quickly after it came out (though I knew that was a possibility when I dropped the $2 on day one), I find myself still really enjoying the gameplay. I think you did a good job pointing out the strengths and weaknesses, and you gave a fair score. So, props to you, David.

    • http://twitter.com/AhiruDuck Ahiru Nakamura

      ya the game actually went to .99c a week before going free... that's when I grabbed it, but a couple of days after it went free ˚︵˚

  • http://twitter.com/AhiruDuck Ahiru Nakamura

    I really like this game... my favorite endless runner so far. I wish it had tilt controls because swiping twice to move from left to right lane and vice versa gets annoying. and also there are some traps that are way too hard to avoid later on... but still Sonic-fun all the way!

  • Bliquid

    I have played this a lot, and i have to admit it has sunk in.
    The gameplay is more nuanced than you'd think, and it is really demanding in regards of skills.
    But everything gets kinda ruined by a shameless
    IAP use paired with veeery cheap deaths sometimes.
    Anyway, imho is very true to the Sonic legacy.
    Was it "ended" instead of endless, maybe with some bosses and more enviroments, and this could have been ironically one of the best Sonic games lately.
    Too bad it's all sbout the money.

    • RelientKSoCal

      I agree about the lack of bosses. Without beating Dr. Eggman/Robotnik being the ultimate goal, I feel like the game is kind of missing something. That being said, I still like the game a lot and it is one of my favorite runners.

      • http://twitter.com/AhiruDuck Ahiru Nakamura

        it would be nice if the game had a goal like the old bonus stages - the emeralds! since it's freaking hard to stay alive for longer than 500k points, the 7 emeralds spread along the trail would be a great challenge...

  • Alfalfa

    If you play it enough, you will notice the clunky mechanics. (Actions can be compounded into one gesture, making it very glitchy) so you need to swipe perfectly to make a move.

    • MidianGTX

      I think it's just you, or maybe small screen clunkiness. The more I play the more convinced I am that I could just keep going forever, 'cause this is easy.

  • Drewskii

    I like this game but there needs a to be an easier way to earn red rings without IAP or every four days. I've been playing at least once over five days and the only thing I seem to receive for my troubles are the gold rings from the random rewards and a measly 200 at that. Oh yeah, this game also needs Shadow as a playable character.

    • RelientKSoCal

      When you complete all 3 missions in a set and level up, they give you bonus red rings - at least I usually get those. I think it's somewhere between 2-5 at a time.

      • Drewskii

        I'm at level 11. Have been for awhile. Missions are maxed out right now. Anyways, there are only three given after each set though.

  • Niall

    IAP, IAP, IAP...

    • MidianGTX

      ...or don't buy it and get exactly the same gameplay.

  • detourne

    Not in Korean App Store. Dang.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.gleadall Tom Gleadall

    It's just not as good as Subway Surfers... in quite a few ways! SS is the best lanes runner I've tried.

  • PotatoMan

    having to swipe twice isn't a "catch"... it's the same with any other endless runner with lanes

  • nightc1

    Honestly I think this is the worst designed forward moving em runner with swipe controls that I've played. Subway Surfers is the best and Agent Dash is solid as well. The level design on the smallscreen just seems cheaply designed to encourage death due to the way the textures blend together. I'm glad I was able to see this as a freemium title with a price tag when it launched because as a freemium game officially now it's easy to confirm those initial impressions. Really this is the worst runner of any kind that I've played. Which is a shame because I love Sonic games.

  • KK m

    Red Star Rings now can be found in gameplay, they've added a boss, and we have Shadow, Blaze and Silver as well now. I would give this a 4 star rating now. The only thing keeping it from a 5-star or 4.5 is... THE ADS! They pop up on the menu screen, when you go to the shop... Basically, when you least expect it.

Sonic Dash Reviewed by David Craddock on . Rating: 3.5