Sonic Runners (found endless runner mobile game; 2015)
Sonic Runners is a side scroller/endless runner mobile game released in 2015. Unlike other Sonic mobile games such as Sonic Dash being developed by Hardlight, this game was made by Sonic Team. The development start in late 2013, the game was going to be on iOS and Android platforms, with this being Sonic Team's mobile-only released game. The Director of Sonic Runners was Takashi Iizuka. So with a ten-person team which would later expand during the game's lifespan with Tomoya Ohtani composing Sonic Runners soundtrack. The game was announced on December 28th, 2014, at Tokyo Joypolis and planned to be launched in 2015. The game would receive a soft launch on February 26th, 2015, only for Japan and Canada, this was made for the sake of testing the servers. But multiple events were held during this testing phase. But later the game would finally achieve its worldwide release on June 25th, 2015.
As it's in the endless running genre, the main goal is to run as far as you can and score the highest from other players. All you have to do is tap the screen to tap the screen in order to jump and use and collect items such as invincibility, shields, wisps, animals, rings, and crystals. The power-ups are invincibility, shields, springs, magnet, and the wisps with cyan laser, yellow drill, and indigo asteroid, with rings, animals, and crystals would help you boost your score. The characters you collected have three different types, with speed type (ex. Sonic, Amy, Shadow) allowing you to jump three times, fly type (ex. Tails, Rouge, Cream) would allow you to jump six times, but your falling speed is much lower, and power type (ex. Knuckles, Omega, Blaze) which can jump only two times but they would allow to make a dash after the first jump, along with helping you destroy much sturdier enemies and obstacles in certain stages. You can allow to have two buddies along with you, which comes from past Sonic games or originally made for this game. Buddies ranged from Chao, Wisps, RC Mechs, to characters like Chip (Sonic Unleashed), Mother Wisp (Sonic Colors), Merlina (Sonic and the Black Knight), Erazor Djinn (Sonic and the Secret Rings) and many others. And each buddy would offer you different abilities. In the end, you'll be in a boss battle. Where you have a limited amount of time to hit Eggman in order to receive rings and rarely where they offer red star rings. After the battle ended, the game would increase the speed and the level would extend. There are three levels of speed, with the game would ending after you lose.
There are two modes in the game, Story Mode and Timed Mode (which was introduced in the 2.0 update). In Story Mode, there is 50 episodes total with certain sections of each episode would offer some rewards or a simple dialogue cutscene that would play. At the end of the episode, most of the time there will be a boss battle. Where you can Eggman and you must hit him or deflect projectiles at him. Doing so without quitting would offer you a special egg, which after you get 10 special eggs it would give you a chance to spin the roulette wheel with boosted chances of rarer eggs.
This is where the controversial part comes in, the roulette wheel. There are two wheels to spin. One for extra items and even some rings and red star rings. With three tiers that you'll be able to reach if you landed on big and super. The rewards will increase and there is a jackpot slot, where you are offered a lot of rings. But the other wheel is the one where you gain characters and buddies, but the player must spend red star rings, which is the premium currency of the game. There are three types of eggs: Normal Egg, Super Eggs, and Character Eggs. For a while, this was the only way to gain characters such as Shadow, Rouge, Omega, Eispo, Charmy, Vector, along with other characters that were exclusive for events such as Classic Sonic, Tikal, Werehog, Sticks, Mephiles, and character variations for Team Sonic, Team Dark, and Amy. If failed to land on the character egg slot, the players would either skip it or get more Red Ring Stars with real-world currency.
Sonic Team hoped that Sonic Runners would succeed as Sonic reception was severely damaged with the failure of the spinoff series Sonic Boom. When the game was released, the game received mixed reviews. Critics and fans praised the fun, simple gameplay and the fan service that the game offers, but criticized the game's heavy monetization with the roulette wheel being the only way to gain certain characters, along with many pop-up ads in the game. And the fact that the game always needs to be online and cannot be played offline. Which would later be proven to be the major issue later down the line.
Following from a report that Sega's mobile division has listed along with their other mobile games. Sonic Runners was under the Stalling/Failure category. Since the game was only receiving 30 million yen per month, compared to another Sega mobile game Puyo Puyo Quest was receiving 500 million yen per month. Due to the game not receiving enough money, Sega would later decide to discontinue the game. They made the announcement in May 2016 that the game will be discontinued on July 27, 2016. When the date came, they shut down the servers, and with the game being only available online. The game was made unplayable and it was considered lost.
Gameloft would later make a sequel to Sonic Runners called Sonic Runners Adventure in December 2017, but most fans were disappointed due to the game's lack of quality compare to the previous game. A lot of the appeal from the previous game was missing in Sonic Runners Adventure. A fan server was later tested by Sonic Retro user You-Are-Pwned with the "Run-run" server and while it worked during its beta phase. The server was later discontinued not even after a month after its testing phase, due to the user's lack of interest and popularity. And for a while, the game was unplayable and lost. But, thankfully, fluofoxxo along with his team made another server dubbed the "Outrun" server. They made a beta test in June 2019 and then finally released it in early 2020. And the team is currently working on Sonic Runners Revival along with Sonic Runners Reloaded (which is a Sonic Forces version of Sonic Runners). So right now, the game is now playable.
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- Anime News Network article announcing the game. Retrieved 07 Dec '21
- An article announcing the game's servers shutting down. Retrieved 07 Dec '21
- A blogpost announcing the fan-made open beta for Sonic Runners. Retrieved 07 Dec '21
- Webpage of the Sonic Runners Revival project. Retrieved 07 Dec '21