I have made no bones about my opinion of video games being turned into board games. Often times the board game adaptations turn out much worse than the video games they're based on, and most of the time trying to ape action-heavy games with tabletop mechanics just comes out clunky and poorly implemented. It is with some amount of surprise that I have to admit that it can be done, as long as you don't try to follow the game too closely. Prime example: Sonic Crash Course from IDW.
Sonic Crash Course is a game based on the Sonic The Hedgehog game franchise, featuring some of the game's hit characters. Luckily none of the characters featured are from the ever-growing ensemble of woodland critters. Instead Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Robotnik (Eggman if you're WRONG) are the controllable characters, and all 4 of them are presented with their original character designs.
The presentation overall is pretty top notch. The board features the chequerboard design which was common for Sonic games of the day, and any fan of the original series would be able to look at the box with the text and characters removed and still tell it was Sonic themed. The theming ever carries over to the components and rules.
Both the different game tiles and tokens feature classic Sonic enemies, such as the Motobug, Crabmeat and Buzz Bombers, all of which are done in a style much more reminiscent of classic Sonic than the modern variations. All put together the general style feels very much aimed at the fans of the Sonic The Hedgehog games on the Megadrive and that's something I can very much get behind.
The general premise of Sonic Crash Course is a race around a track against the other players. The first player to collect enough flicky birds and then reach the finish line is the winner. The actual components are pretty minimalistic in nature. There are only 7 total track tiles including the two starting ones. These tiles are constantly being picked up from one end of the track and replaced at the end, meaning that the shape of the board is constantly changing. While this means that the board never sprawls into epic proportions, it does also mean that you don't need a huge amount of space to play the game which is a big bonus.
Each turn you get to take 3 actions, move, heal or gain an item. While you can do any of the actions 3 times in any combination, you always need to either heal yourself or move once. This keeps the game moving since you can only heal if you actually take damage. It's important to keep moving anyway as if any character is on a tile which is being removed then they instantly lose the game and the person furthest at the front wins.
The items you pick up along the way are often times used to attack your enemies, although one or two of them can be used to give bonuses instead. The items provide a surprising amount of tactical depth to the game, as they can be used to turn the tables on an opponent who is racing ahead. Most of the attack items can be used on any tile in play, no matter how far ahead that tile may be from the character using them. There were several times during play that I thought I had secured a really decent lead only to be bounced back by bumpers, and then hit with bombs and enemies so I was completely slowed down and overtaken.
Part of the reason that the items can be so useful is that a player cannot move or perform an item action while they have damage on their character, meaning they're forced to use up some of their actions healing before they can do anything. Combined with the ability to chain items and on-tile obstacles together the game can become very aggressive pretty quickly. For instance, you can place an item in front of a player, then run into the back of them shunting them forward one space.
Another interesting factor in Sonic Crash Course is the special abilities of the different characters. Most of the time these rely on the use of items or special tiles to gain extra flicky birds, which are usually only attainable by placing and moving onto a new tile. Using shortcuts, doing double damage and chaining boost items are all ways in which the characters can get flicky birds, and can be used to great effect to overtake other players, as well as to gain more tokens than them.
Of great bonus is the two-player variant rules, which sees each player control both a hero character and a side-kick, giving each character their own individual turns and items. It's a nice touch that the game included a special mode to make a 2-player game slightly more interesting.
The last point to really talk about is the quality of the game pieces. For the most part, everything is nicely printed and sculpted. Once again the design of the character pieces is done very much in the style of the old-school Sonic designs, and they also make very nice figurines to have on display if you're a fan. The only minor niggle with the character pieces came with knuckles. In classic characterization, he is posed with an outstretched fist in a punching motion but, at least in my case, his fist just immediately fell off without much provocation. It will be a pretty easy task to reattach it, but it is important to bear in mind that it can be pretty fragile, especially when playing with younger gamers.The Bottom Line:
Overall Sonic Crash Course is a simple but surprisingly fun and addictive title. The game is simple enough to be learned by almost anyone, and once you know the rules you can run through a game pretty quickly, usually in 30 minutes or less. It's a nice, simple, lightweight game that can be pulled out and played on the fly. If you're a fan of classic Sonic The Hedgehog and would love some playable merchandise then Sonic Crash Course is definitely one to look out for.Get this game if:
You're a fan of old school Sonic
You have younger gamers who want a simple game
You want a fun and lightweight game which is quick and easy to play
Avoid this game if:
You enjoy more complex rules
You don't like slightly delicate miniatures
What do you think of Sonic Crash Course? Are you interested in getting your hands on it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.
TechRaptor reviewed Sonic Crash Course with a copy provided by IDW.
Where's the score? The TechRaptor tabletop team has decided that the content of our tabletop reviews is more important than an arbitrary numbered score. We feel that our critique and explanation thereof is more important than a static score, and all relevant information relating to a game, and whether it is worth your gaming dollar, is included in the body of our reviews.