By Jeff Neuenschwander / December 8th, 2012
|Title: Sonic Colors
Developer: Sonic Team
Console: Wii, Nintendo DS
Release Date: November 16, 2010 (NA)
Rating: ESRB E
Remember when Sonic was good? Remember when his games could actually compete against Mario? Remember when Sega didn’t put so many characters in the games? Remember when the series wasn’t a caricature of itself?
Want to experience it again?
Sonic Colors pretty much goes back to the old days of Sonic. It’s just you – as Sonic – and Robotnik (I don’t care what food name they gave him; his name is Dr. Ivo Robotnik). And the only other characters are Tails and the creatures you’re trying to save, called Wisps. Tails acts as a mechanic and interpreter, creating a translator in order to help them understand what the Wisps are saying.
For the actual game…
First and foremost, the gameplay is incredible. Sonic Colors has 3D and 2D platforming, similar to Sonic Unleashed, which was the first in the series to do this. And unlike Unleashed, it feels smooth when it transitions from 2D to 3D instead of snapping from one to the other. The platforming was also well done allowing you to just flat-out fly when you get your rhythm.
The simplicity of the character choices was also great. For recognizable characters, just having Tails tag along with Sonic was a great move (I’ll have something to say on other Sonic characters in a later article). Yacker, the main Wisp in this game, only shows up for a little bit but was enjoyable. Basically, with just having Sonic, Tails, Robotnik – and two of his robots – and the Wisps, going the simple route was the best thing Sonic Team has done for the series since the Genesis era.
As for the Wisps, these alien creatures do more than just wait for Sonic to free them. As soon as they’re released, they’ll assist you with certain power-ups, such as flight, speed boosts, wall clinging, and a monster – one that actually worked out well compared to Unleashed (Were-hog, anyone?).
All the Wisps power-ups work well for the situations but there’s one I’d like to make a special focus on one of my favorites: the Drill. The main purpose of the drill is to have Sonic go through the ground to other areas of the level. But the best use comes from the water levels. Yes, water levels return but they’re more manageable thanks to the drill power-up. Just obtain the yellow Wisp, activate the power-up, and you’ll zoom through the water without having to look for air. Plus the water is typically filled with plenty of yellow wisps, giving you an extended period as the drill.
The music was also good in this game. The best way I can describe it is electronica-rock. Each song works will within the context of their stages. My absolute favorite songs in-game are the first act for Sweet Mountain and the first act for Planet Wisp. Reach of the Stars was also a great song. Singer Jean Paul Makhlouf (from the band Cash Cash) and all those involved in composing and performing the main theme did an excellent job
And while I’m on the subject of music, there’s something I need to bring up. Back in 2010, there was criticism thrown against the theme songs of both Sonic Colors – Reach for the Stars – and Sonic Free Riders – Free – saying that they were too loud. Too loud? If you have the ability to turn down the volume on your TV, why would you say they’re too loud?
Frankly, I love both of those songs (not having an Xbox 360 or a Kinect, I can’t say anything about Free Riders‘ gameplay). Sonic is meant to be “in your face.” Just watch some of the clips from Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. If you think these songs are too loud, then you’re an old curmudgeon who shouldn’t be allowed at any rock concert, techno-festival, sports venue, or any place that can get loud.
Previous clip taken from “Angry Joe” Vargas’ review of Sonic Free Riders.
Two major problems, each worth half a star.
The first come from the multi-player component. I remember when multi-player was a fun component to a Sonic game, where you could either work together in the single player or compete against each other. Obviously, co-operative gameplay would be difficult to accomplish. But why not put some effort into competitive modes rather than slap on some half-baked mode (Sonic Simulator) and call it multi-player?
The second is an even more egregious error. Spoilers for a Sonic game: you beat Dr. Robotnik. But the game isn’t over after the final boss fight (which was well done). Instead there is one last level that needs to be completed to finish the game. It is the most pointless last level ever created for anything.
Here’s what happens: the space station/amusement park begins to crumble and is about to explode. You run for about thirty seconds, dodging holes on the track, before the POV flips around, showing the explosion catching up to and overcoming Sonic. Why was this a playable level? It’d be like if in Mario Galaxy, after beating Bowser, you’d have to jump up to various platforms to avoid getting sucked into a black hole, only to get sucked toward the black hole until the Lumas save you and get you and Peach to safety.
Why wasn’t this a cut-scene? This could have been a great cut-scene, showing Sonic escaping at full speed, only to realize that he wasn’t fast enough. Heck, right after you get swallowed up, the cut-scene begins, showing the Wisps getting Sonic to safety on the planet. So much wrong in only 30 seconds.
After taking so many steps backward with the Sonic series during the past decade, Sonic Team finally found the way forward. By staying simple and true to the Sonic formula, they created the best home console Sonic game since the mid-90’s. It’s not completely perfect and they can still fine tune some things for later games, but this is a good start.
The preceding review was done on the Nintendo Wii version.
games of the pastNintendoSegaSonic ColorsSonic Team