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Review: Sonic Dash

Is the latest platform for the fast blue hedgehog a fun run or an exercise in extortion?

Sonic Dash, as the name suggests, is a game about running. Think Temple Run, but with our favourite blue hedgehog.

What's the game play like? Well, swipes to the left make Sonic dodge enemies and stone columns; swipes up make him jump; swipes down make him screw up into that blue ball and race along under fallen trees and between tight gaps, destroying enemies. It is, what one might term, straightforward. As you run you hoover up the gold coins scattered around the track. Thus filling up the dash meter which, once at bursting, makes Sonic run at supersonic speeds, destroying everything in his path.

The only real motivation here is to beat your previous goals and to unlock Sonic's friends - Tails, Amy and Knuckles – or else play around with the special power-ups that, yes, make you go faster.

Looks-wise – and I was playing on the iPhone – it's pretty fantastic as you hop, slide and boost down the three-lane track.

It's not without problems, though. I like Sonic. So when he died the first time, I mourned and rebooted him. I turned the volume up and raced my way down the green fields and Grecian roads. But then I jumped over an obstacle. I swiped down to destroy the enemy behind, only to be smacked in the face by an oddly-placed toppled column.

And it kept happening – these unforeseen Sonic-killing incidents. And I don't think it's because of my controls skills, either. It's just that everywhere you look, you're given the option of buying more special red coins, with real money, to help you unlock sections of the game.

The cynic in me thinks that at times the game design is geared towards those In-App-Purchases – rather than having fun with the standard game. Those little money gates are an obstacle in their own way, beating away gamers who just want to race around as Sonic and pass some time on the bus or tube.

Ultimately, Sonic Dash is a great fit for the blue hedgehog, who has had something of an identity crisis over the last decade. But this isn't 2008's Unleashed, which saw Sonic transform into a, er, Hogwolf. The issue with this game is not the designers' portrayal of Sonic, who is arguably at his blue best here. Rather it's just hard to continue playing a game when draining your wallet, rather than engaging your thumbs, seems to be the aim.

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