Sonic Rushdown

Gotta go fast!

Sega as a company has what seems to be a pretty prosaic attitude towards fangames. You can use their art and sprites and characters in fan media, even fan media that makes a videogame, and as long as you’re not asking anyone to pay money for it, they seem to be fine with it. It’s not a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy as much as it is a “Won’t ask, don’t sell” policy, and it’s a policy I might be stretching to its theoretical limits with this.

I made a Sonic the Hedgehog card game.

They exist already. Sonic the Hedgehog has a host of card games already. They’re almost universally terrible, games that rate somewhere around Snap. Now, the fact that Sonic the Hedgehog has shown up in a bunch of terrible games is unremarkable – both in that tie-in board games are often terrible, and statistically, Sonic the Hedgehog games are just as often terrible.  It’s rolling some loaded dice, is what I’m saying.

Wanna see what I came up with?

Gameplay Loop

Players are going to run through levels represented by flipping cards off the top of the deck. These cards are going to show you one of either an Emerald Shard, a Hazard or a Ring. Hazard cards end your run, if you can’t deal with them.  Ring cards can protect you from (a) hazard, then get discarded. Emerald Shards are the thing you’re trying to collect, to reconstruct the Chaos Emeralds.

Play starts with the player whose character is the fastest, represented on their player card in the top right corner. The character in position 1 (Sonic) goes first, then any character in position 2, and 3 and so on.

On the first turn, you just start your Run. First, flip cards off the top of the deck equal to your Momentum. Faster characters have a lower momentum, they hit their top speed faster. These cards are safe – you can avoid hazards revealed this way, and if you reveal two matching cards in this start of your run, they don’t end your turn.  Then, after that, you can flip cards off the top of your deck  and resolve what happens.

  • If you flip a Rings card, take it out of the Run and hold onto it. You can have any number of thesce, but any time you get hit by a Hazard, you lose all of them, so there’s no point fretting about stockpiling them.
  • If you flip a hazard, it hits you, and ends your Run. Discard all the cards in your Run and pass the deck to the next player.
    • If you have any Rings, you can discard all your Rings instead, and keep Running. You can’t stockpile or pick up any of those Rings – the hazard knocked them out of you.
  • If you flip an Emerald Shard, check to see if it matches any of your other Emerald Shards. If it does match your other Emerald Shards, your Run ends, but you don’t discard any cards in it.

After every flip you can choose to keep flipping more cards, or you can choose to end your Run. If you end your Run, you can pick one of the Emerald Shards in your run, and activate its Harmony. If you do this, it steals all the cards in other players’ Runs that match it.

Once your Run is ended, don’t put it away – it’s there so other players can steal from it!

At the start of each turn, if it’s not the first turn, you’ll have some cards in front of you face-up from your last turn’s Run. Set them aside. They’re your saved cards, you reached a checkpoint. If you have any ring cards in that, discard all but one of them. Then start your Run as before.

Your turn can end before you want it to, of course, if the deck runs out of cards. That’s okay, you get to keep what you had in your Run. Shuffle up the cards in the discard, and people work out their score for that level.


You want to recover the Chaos Emeralds. When the deck runs out of cards, and you score the level, players  want to check the cards they have Saved and the cards in their current Run. For each Chaos Emerald, the player who has the most of each type collected that Emerald. Each Chaos emerald lists how many cards of its type there are in the deck, so it’s easy to work out how many there should be. If two players are tied for the number of cards, the faster character wins ties.

Mechanical Space

There’s more to the game than this loop. Particularly each character has special abilities, but I need the basic systems of the game in place to enable them. The simple starter characters, Sonic, Knuckles, Tails and Amy, all relate to hazards differently. But also because there’s a theft mechanic, Rouge can take advantage of the stealing. Silver and Sticks can also take advantage of that kind of thing. What’s more there’s also room for complications: A boss monster that chases the ‘winner’ of each round, and a complication like Big the Cat.


In the context of this game, though, what I wanted to emulate was a few feelings from the Sonic the Hedgehog games I remembered. Here’s my list of principles:

  • The game needed to reward some vision of speed
  • I needed ways for people to steal from one another or pick up things that other people dropped
  • It needed to be an interesting game with its own interesting set of choices
  • It needed to reflect the characters of Sonic the Hedgehog in a way that expressed an understanding of the characters’ differences


Uh… I mean at this point I need to playtest it. Art assets are available from Sonic’s own compendia of material. I can’t sell it, but I may need some way to print a copy to give to a streamer to show it off? I dunno. It’s kinda hard to say with a game of this type!