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Sonic Cafe: A Blast Through Mobile Sonic Games History


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Sonic Cafe Logo

When I first tell you “List me 3 cellphone/mobile Sonic Games”, likely an expected answer would be “Easy! Sonic Dash, Sonic CD (2011) and Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing”. However, what much people actually forgot, or even don't know is that Sonic passed through a long journey before SEGA conquered its space in the mobile game scene. Despite this topic name has “Sonic Cafe” on it, the idea here is coverage, not just Sonic Cafe, but the complete history of mobile Sonic games in mobile/cellphone devices.

In fact, it's almost unbelievable that SEGA already wanted an alternate game platform in mobiles back in 2001. As the Sonic History section in Sonic Channel mentions, the service began in January 26th, 2001 in Japan. Try to imagine back to date: Two years earlier Sonic Adventure was releasing trying to begin Dreamcast's sales. One year later and Sonic Shuffle was released also on Dreamcast, even though still being remembered as one of the worst and most dispensable Sonic games. Later one year Sonic Cafe got released, Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Advance were nearly going to be released, being two huge points at the Sonic franchise, meaning the end of the Dreamcast and SEGA as a multi-platform developer as well.

With a monthly fee of ¥315 (Nearly US$ 3,00 back in the date), Sonic Cafe offered nearly 40 Sonic games and nearly other 40 from other franchises (Such as Phantasy Star, Puyo Puyo, Samba de Amigo, NiGHTS and ChuChu Rocket). At the time, of course, most of all the games were very limited and simple, however a distraction between all ages. In the West, many of these games were independently sold via SEGA Mobile.

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Sonic the Hedgehog (2001)

Actually, the first (Or at least one of the firsts) games to be released were Sonic the Hedgehog (2001), which, according to the web, was likely a “remake” of the first Sonic 1 (16-Bits) on Mobile devices, trying to follow the same mechanics and logic. On the same year, Sonic Tennis was released, which as the same suggests, Sonic went to play Tennis with his friends (Here with Tails, Knuckles and Amy). Even though nearly impossible, this might be considered as one of the first sketches for what SEGA Superstars Tennis would be 7 Years later.

2002 showed to be the most active year for the service. Might related with the situation of the franchise by the time, which weren't one of the best, SEGA invested (a lot) on Mobile games trying to take money from it. 10 games were released this year, most of them are predictable by their names, and in a general look, it includes Golf, Card, Racing, Bowling and even a fishing game. Two interesting games released this year were a Sonic Minesweeper game, and even a 3D Chao Garden simulator!

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Nakayoshi Chao! (Good Friend Chao) (2002)

From 2003 to 2005, things became a bit more calm and getting a standard. Likely related with the massive Sonic Heroes production and promotion and the not-so beloved Shadow the Hedgehog. On these 3 years, 5 games were released per year. Likely following the back years released, simple games copies with Sonic characters on it, and almost in exception, some original Sonic themed mini games. Even quite unbelievable, some sub franchisees were born on Sonic Cafe, such as Sonic Hopping (Which had a sequel, Sonic Hopping 2), Speed (Which had two sequels, Speed DX and Sonic Speed DX) and Sonic Racing Kart (With Sonic Kart 3D X).

2005 gets even more interesting because of two specific releases. Even almost unknown, one of the most famous Smartphones releases, Sonic Jump, was first made in Sonic Cafe before it got through modern systems. The second one, is a full remake of Sonic 1. Coincidentally or not, Sonic 2 was released one year later, and Sonic 3 (& Knuckles) never made it onto mobile devices. Not mentioning music, one plausible explanation would be the complexity it could be to port a game of this size on Java (Operational System of most cellphones during the 2000's).

Also on 2005, SEGA Mobile does its debut on USA (2006 on EU), bringing Sonic Cafe games to the West and selling it separately. 2006 received more games than 2005, a few games are, the already mentioned, Sonic 2 port, a remake of the 2002 golf game, three more card games and a Shadow isometric run and gun game.

2007 was the last year of Sonic Cafe service (Even with SEGA Mobile just giving its first steps). A Poker game got released in this year, as such an exclusive new Sonic game and a re-remake of the already mention, Speed game. Meanwhile in SEGA Mobile, Sonic 1 was released for the classic iPod. Later on 2008, SEGA released Sonic Jump 2 and Sonic at Olympic Games, which was released after the Mario & Sonic game.

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Sonic Jump 2

Followed by the decrease of Java mobile usage, and consequently the increase of Android and iOS devices, SEGA Mobile's and Sonic Cafe's usage were useless. In Japan, another service called PuyoSEGA was released, following exactly the same scheme of Sonic Cafe (Including the fee) for Android.

The first game released on PuyoSEGA was a Sonic Advance port only for Japan, the service also got responsible for the Sonic Jump (Android remake) and both Sonic 4 episodes. Like Sonic Cafe, was for Sonic, PuyoSEGA was for PuyoPuyo, and lots of games for this series were released on the service. Also, remember Speed? The game which had 2 other sequels? It also made its appearance here.

Later on, the history is more well-known. Both PuyoSEGA and SEGA Mobile became useless as SEGA self-published their games on OS Stores. First starting with an emulated version of Sonic 1 for Android/iOS, going through Christian Whitehead remakes of Sonic CD, 1 and 2 as well getting some high popularity with Sonic Dash and Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed.

And well, that's it. I'm not much sure how I should finish this post, but I thought it could be cool to share this little article I've been writing, I don't believe many people actually knows the "old" part of the Mobile Sonic games history. Hope you enjoy, and if liked, I have a few others themes I could bring here to SSMB.

Have a nice day! 😄

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