Sonic Colors Review
A lot of people were disappointed with the way Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 turned out. Sure, there were a few gamers that appreciated Sega’s attempt to take the blue hedgehog back to his speedy sidescrolling glory days, but others were not as amused. If you were looking forward to playing a retro Sonic title and didn’t get what you wanted with Sonic 4, then there’s a major solution to your blues: Sonic Colors on the Nintendo DS. This fast-paced sidescrolling platformer is a great addition to the Sonic library, and while it isn’t perfect, it deserves plenty of praise and recognition for taking the spiny blue hero back to his roots.
Sonic Colors on the DS plays a lot like the Sonic Rush games, which is to say it plays a lot like the old Genesis games to star the blue blur. The physics and mechanics have been tweaked a bit, but not to the same degree as Sonic 4. You don’t have to worry about Sonic taking long to reach his top running speed; you won’t get stuck at certain spots due to the physics of the game; and you certainly won’t need to worry about getting trapped in a single area for long periods of time. Overall, Sonic Colors on the DS is just a much better take on the 2D Sonic formula than the recent digital release.
Everything in the game is typical 2D Sonic fare. You run through loops, bounce off springs, and go careening down steep slopes. It’s fast, it’s fun, and it sticks to the formula that worked for Sega back in the ‘90s. There are a few changes that co-developers Sonic Team and Dimps added to the game to keep it modern. Sonic's homing attack returns once again, and it works well for targeting badniks and bouncy springs. Additionally, special stages similar to those seen in Sonic 2 allow you to collect Chaos Emeralds. While these stages have Sonic running forward on his own, you steer him to the left and right using the stylus in order to collect colored spheres. These touch screen controls don’t detract from the experience, but purists may be a bit more critical of them.
As is the case with Sonic Colors on the Wii, you have access to various power-ups in the form of colorful Wisps. As you progress through the game, you unlock new Wisps which can be collected by running through capsules. Red Wisps allow Sonic to turn into a fireball and jump through the air. Yellow Wisps turn Sonic into a drill so he can burrow underground or travel at fast speeds underwater. Cyan Wisps increase the blue hedgehog’s boost meter so he can run at blinding speeds through obstacles and enemies. Just like they did for the Wii version of the game, the many power-ups included in Sonic Colors add to the hectic speed and enhance the experience.
While the gameplay itself stays true to the Sonic formula of old, the art style and sound design are vastly different. Every world in Sonic Colors for the DS is taken directly from the Wii version, so you can expect to see the same level themes and hear the same music tracks in the stages. This is in no way a bad thing as Sonic Colors looks great and features excellent hues. The same can be said about the soundtrack which features enjoyable poppy themes that are catchy and fit well with their respective environments.
One presentational aspect that the game could have done without is the constant appearance of cutscenes. While the CG cinematics in the Wii version were enjoyable to watch and featured quirky and comical dialogue between the characters, the combination of still shots and text dialogue seen in the DS iteration of the game doesn’t do anything in its favor. Luckily, these can be skipped, and if you already played Sonic Colors on the Wii, you’ll be aware of Eggman’s diabolical theme park plan as it is exactly the same on the DS.
Sonic Colors is an ode to the Genesis games right down to the replay value. You’ll probably get through the entire game in three or four hours, but you’re definitely going to find yourself coming back for more due mainly to the game’s addictive design. Revisiting levels and finding alternate routes is a total blast, but it’s the sense of freedom and frantic pace of the game that makes it completely invigorating to play levels repeatedly. Completists will definitely want to spend some time getting acquainted with every level as there are elusive red rings hidden throughout, many of which require wily use of the Wisps’ powers. If you’re feeling competitive, you can even race against others locally or online. The multiplayer keeps it simple, but it’s still fun connecting with others and speeding through your favorite stages.
If you didn’t enjoy Sonic 4 and found yourself wanting a tried and true 2D Sonic game, look no further than the DS version of Sonic Colors. By that same token, if you did enjoy Sonic 4 and want more sidescrolling goodness, then you would do well to play the blur blur’s DS adventure as well. The game looks good, sounds good, and plays it safe by sticking closely to the gameplay design of titles such as Sonic 2. This game will draw you in and keep you entertained for a while, and it will entice you to revisit it many times. Sonic Colors for the Nintendo DS is an excellent addition to the series, and a true 2D Sonic experience.