SEGA has been having some tough times with the Sonic series over the last few years. No, not in terms of sales, and some could even argue not in terms of quality either. But a huge divide has been created between the audience for the franchise. There are the millions who buy each and every Sonic game released, and then there is another group that don’t care for, or in some cases, despise Sonic’s recent titles, standing true to the Genesis days. Despite still having strong sales, SEGA felt the need to address this other audience, creating two separate Sonic games aimed at different parts of the market. And while SEGA was pushing Sonic Colors on the Wii towards their already existing fan base, they seem to have accidentally made a title that potentially appeals to a much larger audience.
Sonic runs fast. And when he is not running fast, he is platforming. No werehog, no sword waggling, no fishing, no funky physics, no nothing. Sonic Colors is Sonic doing what Sonic does best. The title plays similar to Sonic Unleashed’s day time levels, where players switch between 2D and 3D gameplay. The big difference between Sonic Colors and Sonic Unleashed are the new power ups known as ‘Wisps’. These Wisps let Sonic transform into a variety of forms, including a laser beam, drill, spike ball and more. Players tackle obstacles using these power ups to not only proceed in a level, but to access alternative routes or hidden areas.
The thing that Sonic Colors does right in using these power ups is how they affect Sonic. They don’t disrupt his speed, and if so, not by much. Each power up compliments, and in some cases, enhance Sonic’s speed. Players are also given quite a bit of freedom of how to use these power ups. It isn’t always ‘oh, here’s sign A that you need to use Power B’. Often players can play with the power ups in their own ways, making their own path to the goal. You could call the Wisps a gimmick, but its a gimmick that Sonic Team got right. They builds upon Sonic’s already existing foundation and only improves it.
Outside of power ups, Sonic team has also built some fantastic levels. Each level is designed with a good variety of 3D and 2D sections of gameplay. What perspective and how you are playing in that perspective continues to shift. So even if you are just running from point A to B, how you’re running there is constantly shifting, avoiding any dull moments.
Unfortunately, Colors does fall one some flat points. In terms of controls, the title feels loose making precise platforming difficult, but that’s pretty much an inherent aspect of Sonic due to his speed. Sonic also can feel a little unresponsive at times. I often found myself trying to quickly turn around to use a power up, only to find I was still facing the same direction as before, in some cases launching me to my death.
Sonic Colors also has some lengthy automated segments where the player is just watching as Sonic runs on rails through loopty loops or on small paths. This can be become a bit frustrating, especially when there is a check point right before one of these segments. Once you die, you’ll have to watch these extended segments again and again until you either tag a check point or touch down at the goal. It’s like watching an unskippable cutscene over and over again. Some of the bosses have interesting designs, but are reused a bit often. And considering the title only has a handful of boss battles, these reused fights take up a good portion of the boss roster. At the very least, reused fights have their own gimmicks to mix up the fight a little bit. But overall, Sonic Colors plays well, aside from these few frustrating moments.
Now, when talking about Sonic games, most people wouldn’t say much about the story. And for the plot itself in Sonic Colors, that’s true. The game goes back to the basics of Sonic vs. Eggman, aside from a few plot points that explain why Sonic is in an amusement in space using aliens as power ups. Outside of that, Sonic Colors story remains basic, as it should. What launches Sonic Colors’ cutscenes into greatness is the dialog. It is bad…VERY bad. And whoever worked on the script knew it, and took advantage of it. Every chance it gets, Sonic Colors will kick cheesy jokes at you. It’s to the point that its so bad its funny. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you’re looking for serious deep dark story, Shadow isn’t in this game. Go play something else. It’s Sonic Colors!
If you just want to play straight through Sonic Colors to the end, you don’t have a lengthy adventure in front of you. The title falls well under 10 hours, landing a bit closer to the five hour mark. But just because it’s short, doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of content here. Each level ranks you based on your score and time, giving players the chance to earn everything from a D to S rank. Of course, you can also race for the quickest times or higher scores. Each level also has multiple red rings that players can collect for some extra bonus content. And last, but not least, there are plenty of alternate routes players can take, some of which require the use of certain power ups to access.
There’s a local 2 player multiplayer mode as well, but unfortunately I wasn’t given the opportunity to try it. Players play through simulation levels as robotic Sonics or Sonic bodies with Mii heads. The levels are visually basic, and are much more linear then the main missions. Thankfully, if you’re like me and are anti-social outside of the internet, you can play through all these levels via single player.
If you decide to pick up Sonic Colors, your eyes are in for a treat. Despite the Wii’s lack of horse power, Sonic Colors pulls off some impressive visuals, not only in terms of pushing the platform, but when it comes to visual design as well. Taking place in an amusement park, the developers were given a lot of creative freedom. Each level, while built off a theme, puts Sonic in drastically different and unique environments. Players will visit a giant candy land, an Asian themed aquarium, and cross giant space ships that are connected by, what is essentially, a rainbow road. It’s vibrant and colorful, which we definitely need more of in the industry today. To top it off, despite everything on screen, the title never skips a beat, running smoothly from start to finish.
Once you boot up Sonic Colors and hear the intro you may be like “oh god, ‘I want to reach for the stars…but they look pretty far…’ what?” Ignore it! Once you jump into the first level, your ears will be soothed by a fantastic upbeat soundtrack, many of which, to my knowledge, are original to Sonic Colors. Colors also features a new voice cast. And while it takes some getting used to, they surprisingly give a nice facelift to the characters, mainly Sonic. He’s been given a voice that much better fits his style and attitude. And when he cracks a joke, you feel more like you’re laughing with him, rather than at him like with the previous voice.
I have one question for SEGA: Why did it take so long to get a title like Sonic Colors!? Oh, well. What matters is the title is here now. Instead of being a small step for the franchise, Sonic Colors makes a huge leap, proving that, with some more improvements and a lengthier adventure, Sonic can still compete with some of the triple A franchises out there right now in terms of critical reception. Sonic fans, most likely, already have Sonic Colors. And if you don’t, why not!? Buy it now! If you’re a lapsed Sonic fan though, I’d definitely recommend you check out Sonic Colors, although a rent might be better choice due to its short length. It’s a fantastic title that keeps Sonic’s speed while adding new gameplay elements to make it feel fresh. Small issues cause some problems and a short length limits its value, but don’t let that keep you from playing this Colors. Unless you just absolutely hate Sonic in both 3D and 2D gameplay, you should definitely check this title out.
- Classic 2D and 3D Sonic action that isn’t disrupted by gimmicks
- Power ups only compliment, and in some cases, enhance Sonic’s speed
- Fantastic level design that add gameplay variety to each level
- Dialog is so bad that’s good
- Colorful and vibrant visuals that go beyond just pushing polygons
- Loose and unresponsive controls can occasionally cause some frustration
- Many of the boss battles are reused
- Short enough that you can finish it within an afternoon