Review: Sonic the Hedgehog on Mobile Is a Fun Throwback, with More Than a Few Headaches

Sonic the Hedgehog on Mobile Is a Fun Throwback, with More Than a Few Headaches

Who would have thought back in 1991 that you'd eventually be able to play Sonic the Hedgehog whenever and wherever you wanted? Not a crappy Game Gear version, either. I'm talking the full Sega Genesis version of Sonic, available to you on a bus, a plane, or in a rest-stop bathroom. Now imagine how those people would react if you told them the game would also be free. They would think you were crazy.

And yet, here we are, 26 years later, and Sonic 1 is available on iOS and Android for nothing. A quick download is all that stands between you and a blast-from-the-past.

So, how does the game hold up? How does it, a game designed for a physical controller, play on touch screen controls? The answer is ... tricky.

This game is full-fledged Sonic the Hedgehog. The game and the gameplay are the same as you remember from '91. In that case, this is a fantastic experience.

But the touch screen controls are no substitute for physical controls. Sonic moves fast — that's kinda his thing — and that speed requires some quick reflexes to avoid trouble. The touch controls, while not bad, don't feel precise or tight enough to feel like you are 100% in charge of what's happening on-screen. I am very vocal about how I have no gaming talent, but even I know when my character's death wasn't my fault.

Here's the thing though — that's just mobile gaming. Unless you buy a peripheral, there's no getting around touch controls. Sure, the best mobile games are the ones designed around that limitation, but at the same time, Sega is giving us Sonic on our phones.

You can criticize all you like, but at the end of the day, you have a game that once cost $40 to $50, that once was tethered to your living room TV, right in your pocket. We can make some sacrifices for that, I think.

The ads are a different story. Wow. The ads in this game are ... debilitating.

I'm sorry — they're terrible. And so long. One pops up as you turn on the game, and one pops up every time you get a game over. It feels worse than putting a quarter in the machine at the arcade, because at least then I feel like I have some control. Here, I'm just getting blasted by some money-hungry company who made some awful freemium game. No, I will not download your stupid app, you abhorrent, spineless, joke-of-a-developer.

Anyway, it costs $2.00 to get rid of ads. Forever. So, it looks like I'm going to have to deal with the ads.

Sonic the Hedgehog for iOS and Android is, well, totally worth a download. If you were a fan of the game way back when, you'll enjoy reliving your old memories from the comfort of your pocket. While intrusive ads and occasionally lackluster controls dampen the experience a bit, I can't help but remember that I'm able to play Sonic on my iPhone, for free. That, in and of itself, is more than enough reason to get this game.

If you'd like to try it for yourself, you can download the game from the iOS App Store or from the Google Play Store.

The Verdict

+ full Sonic experience
+ free to play
+ it's just fun

– obnoxious ads
– touch controls

This review is our opinion based on the quality of the game, factoring in things like gameplay, storyline, advertisements, cost and in-app purchases, and touch controls.

Cover image and screenshot by Jake Peterson/Gadget Hacks

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