SonicN marks the debut appearance of Sonic Team's ever-popular Sonic the Hedgehog on Nokia's N-Gage. The game is actually a port of the just-over-a-year-old Sonic Advance for the Game Boy Advance. The game features multiple playable characters and a time-attack mode. These additions to the standard Sonic formula are certainly welcome, but in the grand scheme of things, they really only serve to pad out what is otherwise a rather unimpressive port that suffers quite a bit in translation between formats.
If you played Sonic Advance for the GBA, you'll know pretty much what to expect going into SonicN. The game has 12 primary levels, each broken up into six different zones. The levels are designed around the age-old concept of Sonic-styled speedy gameplay, which includes lots of jumps, loops, and similar platforming mechanics, in addition to a healthy dose of ring-collecting and the appearance of an occasional bad guy--who you'll have to stomp. Each zone is bookended by a boss battle against Sonic's longtime adversary Dr. Eggman, who once again seeks to take over the world by gaining control of a number of precious gems, called chaos emeralds. The N-Gage game also contains the same roster of characters. Sonic is obviously playable. Of course, there's also his ever-spunky sidekick Tails, his sometimes enemy/sometimes ally Knuckles, and his lady friend Rose. Each character has his or her own unique abilities. For example, Tails can actually fly across short distances, whereas Knuckles can glide across mild gaps and can also climb certain surfaces. The extra characters add some replay value to the game, since you'll have to play through the game with all four to unlock the final zone. Unfortunately, that still won't take terribly long, and, aside from the time-attack mode, that's really all there is to the game.
For the most part, SonicN controls fairly responsively and, as a whole, plays well. Unfortunately, there is one fatal flaw in the game's design, which sadly stems from the design of the N-Gage itself. Because the system uses a vertically designed screen, the full-screen mode of SonicN doesn't lend itself terribly well to productive results when speeding through the game's levels. This is because the full-screen mode essentially scrunches the screen to the point where you can't actually get any sort of a bearing on what's ahead of you. There's absolutely no margin for error when approaching danger, and unless you have superhuman reflexes, you're unlikely to be able to avoid approaching pitfalls or enemies. The game does offer a letterboxed mode, which uses a large blue border to surround the onscreen action and force it into the proper aspect ratio. This does help alleviate the aforementioned problem somewhat, but it also creates a new one in that this mode is far more strenuous on the eyes, as everything is basically shrunken down by one-half. This lose/lose situation really kills a lot of the game's appeal.
SonicN is also plagued with a number of technical problems that hamper its graphics and sound. The intrinsic art design of the game is nearly an exact copy of Sonic Advance, though with just a touch more detail in the characters and levels. The character animation is also essentially the same from Sonic Advance, and it all looks pretty good. Unfortunately, the game's frame rate suffers from quite a bit of chop, especially in areas where the speed of the game really picks up. The game also just seems a lot more jittery and all over the place when it comes to camera movement. At times, the inconsistent frame rate, coupled with the camera, can actually lead to a somewhat nauseating sensation when playing the game for extended periods. The game's complement of sound effects and music is all pretty much exactly as it should be for a Sonic game, though all of it has a decidedly tinny and unpleasant sound to it.
Somewhere deep down, there's a good game buried underneath SonicN's multiple technical gaffes, but it's buried too deep to find. Considering that a much better version of this exact same game exists elsewhere, there's no real reason that you should have to suffer through SonicN's poor frame rate, menial sound quality, and irritating display modes. Unless you're an absolute diehard Sonic fan who doesn't own a GBA, there's absolutely no reason to play SonicN.