If you were a kid growing up in the early 90’s, then there is a good chance you played the original Sonic The Hedgehog on Sega Genesis. Taking this original game, DIDJ has slightly tweaked this classic and outfitted it with kid friendly spelling tutorials.
I must admit, I am very impressed that this game is literally Sonic 1. I am sure Sega authorized the rights to this, but having an official classic game on the DIDJ handheld is impressive in itself.
Just like in Sonic 1, players will jump and run their way through each level while stomping on baddies and collecting rings. Boss battles are even included. New to each level are large gold rings that once collected, players will be transported to a new area to participate in spelling games. One spelling game will force players to spell out a word by jumping on boxes with letters on them. This game is tailored for 2nd-4th graders so there will be some words that challenge them. Words like – sincere, moment, and lettuce, are some examples. Unfortunately, since the play control is so touchy, it is very difficult to jump on a stationary box. All jumps need to be pixel perfect too because each box has a very limited point of registration. Literally, the player can jump right through a box. There is no time limit here, but it is still very frustrating when you cannot complete a simple action. You also cannot bounce from one box to another; you have to land back on the ground then jump again. It is way more tedious than it needs to be.
Besides jumping on boxes to spell letters, another mini game will have Sonic run left and right on a screw causing letters to rotate with it. Like the box mini game, it is more confusing than it needs to be. After you select the correct letter in a word, all the letters randomly change to new ones. This slows down gameplay and can make it confusing for younger children.
There are some other problems with the game as well. When the game is paused, the player must tap the “A” button to unpause the game. However, this single press of the “A” button also makes Sonic jump, which could lead to unwanted results. I also had some problems unlocking Badges too. I unlocked the “finish Zone 1 in under 2 minutes” badge but I did not unlock the “finish Zone 1 in under 3 minutes” badge. Shouldn’t I have unlocked them both? Strange.
Whether it is intentional or not, I found it is possible to jump over some of these large gold rings, causing players to bypass the spelling learning tutorials completely. I will admit, I did find that the spelling mini games break up the high speed action of Sonic’s gameplay in an annoying way. I might have almost preferred to have these tutorials at the end of each level instead of placed within each stage. But then again, this article is coming from a gamer who wants to get into the meat of the gameplay.
This game may have some slight design issues, but it is still entertaining. Using the original Sonic game as a learning vehicle is quite shocking but highly welcomed. I would have liked to have seen the spelling games become more integrated with the high speed side scrolling action of Sonic, but they still get their point across. If you own a DIDJ, this is probably going to be one of the better buys.