Sonic Colors Review
Sonic the Hedgehog is currently undergoing something of a renaissance. After several attempts, Sega has finally started listening to the fans. Just a few months back, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 put the blue blur back into a 2D game. And now we have Sonic Colors. Though the DS version of the game is a side-scrolling platformer akin to the speedy hedgehog’s Genesis outings, Sonic Colors on the Wii is a 3D title that features gameplay that can really only be compared to the daytime aspect of Sonic Unleashed. And you know what? It’s really good.
Sonic Colors isn’t marred by some convoluted storyline and terrifyingly cheesy dialogue. The game keeps the narrative simple by delivering a plot that revolves around Eggman’s creation of a sinister theme park. Being the just hedgehog that he is, Sonic investigates and, with the help of his buddy Tails, decides to put a stop to the rotund villain’s evil scheme. Though the game features a large number of cutscenes, they’re nowhere near as annoying or absurd as those found in past 3D Sonic titles. In fact, they’re actually quite enjoyable. This is due to the constant puns Sonic and Tails deliver as well as Eggman’s hopeless persistence.
But the real enjoyment in Sonic Colors doesn’t come from its story. The blue hedgehog’s latest adventure is memorable due to its rock solid gameplay. Everything that made the Genesis games so enjoyable has been translated to 3D; there are countless springs, dizzying loop-de-loops, and multiple paths. The game is incredibly fast-paced, and it’s hard to keep from being mesmerized by the satisfying sense of speed that the game encompasses.
Aside from the game’s fast pace, the gameplay is enhanced by constantly shifting camera angles. Levels progress from rear view to side-scrolling without a hitch, and the whole thing feels completely natural. There are also moments where the camera pans out to the point where Sonic looks like a tiny dot on the screen as he runs across vast areas or flies through the sky after hitting a ramp. These moments look a bit theatrical, and they definitely fit with the energy of the game.
The new gimmick in this Sonic game is the addition of power-ups in the form of Wisps. These alien creatures can be found in capsules on each of the game’s levels, and they grant Sonic specific abilities based on their colors. White Wisps increase Sonic’s boost meter, which can be used to make the spiny hero even faster. Cyan Wisps transform Sonic into a laser shot, allowing him to launch himself to far-off areas at blazing speed. Yellow Wisps turn the hedgehog into a drill that can burrow underground and travel rapidly underwater. These are just a few of the new abilities in Sonic Colors, and they all work well and add a nice spin on the Sonic formula.
Another area where Sonic Colors shines is in its difficulty. While the game starts out fairly easy, later zones require you to think before you act. And because the game is so fast-paced, you really have to think quickly and perform rapid actions. Like the Sonic games of old, you are encouraged to go really fast, but be careful not to steer Sonic right into a pitfall.
Sonic Colors is easily one of the best-looking games on the Wii. True to its name, it features levels with a great array of hues. The skies, the backgrounds, and even the ground Sonic runs on are all full of bold colors. Every level in the game has a nice aesthetic touch to it as well. Planet Wisp is grassy and full of life. Sweet Mountain features colorful landmarks such as cakes, sprinkled donuts, and candy. Stars litter the sky of the Starlight Carnival. The whole thing has this artsy, celestial look to it; Sega really pulled out all the stops with the visual design in this game, and it really puts other titles on the console to shame.
The music in the game is also enjoyable for the most part. Older Sonic titles have fallen victim to soundtracks full of embarrassing lyrics and unfitting rock music. Thankfully, that’s not the case here. Though two of the songs in the game do include the aforementioned cheesy lyrics, each of the game’s zones has its own theme that changes slightly with every act. The soundtrack in Sonic Colors is fun and lighthearted, and it has a great Sonic vibe.
As great as the game’s design, difficulty, and presentation may be, the whole thing is over way too soon. If your goal is simply to get to the end of the game, you can complete that feat in under 5 hours. If you want to do everything there is to do, however, you can expect that time to double and possibly even triple. You receive a rank after completing each act, and if you really desire that coveted S-rank, you’re going to have to master every level. Additionally, there are six red rings hidden in every stage, and collecting these unlocks levels in multiplayer mode, which is a fun little distraction even though it takes a backseat to the main game. There are plenty of optional tasks in the game that should keep determined players occupied for a while; it’s just a shame the main story doesn’t last very long.
Sonic Colors is a blast from start to finish. It’s a shame that the game doesn’t last much longer, but it does more things right than it does wrong. The level design is intricate and a perfect fit for the Sonic universe. The visuals are stunning and provide some of the best eye candy on the Wii. The power-ups add to the experience rather than take away from it like previous gimmicks in the series. Even the game’s cutscenes are fun to watch. This is easily the best Sonic game to come along in years. Let’s hope Sega and Sonic Team can take the remarkable formula they used with Sonic Colors and push it forward in future games.