Games of the Past REVIEW: Sonic Colors

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

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Sonic Colors Title: Sonic Colors
Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega
Console: Wii, Nintendo DS
Release Date: November 16, 2010 (NA)
Genre: Platformer
Rating: ESRB E
Official Website

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.

Sonic Colors

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.

Sonic Colors

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.

Sonic Colors

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.

Sonic Colors

If it’s so loud, turn the volume down.

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?

Sonic Colors

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.

Sonic Colors

What’s the point of this?

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.


Sonic Colors

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.

Review Score

The preceding review was done on the Nintendo Wii version.

About Jeff Neuenschwander

Jeff has been a supporter of the website and campaign since the beginning. Joining in for E3 2012, he worked his way up the ranks quickly, making it to the Editing Manager post at the beginning of 2013. Jeff has a wide variety of tastes when it comes to gaming and pretty much likes anything that is quirky, although his favorite genres are Action, Platforming, and RPG. Outside of gaming, Jeff is a musician, being trained as a trombonist for Jazz and Classical music, and holds a degree in Sound Recording.

  • while this is a solid Sonic game, i felt like they reused a couple of their bosses and sometimes the controls were clunky. the level design was also a tad tedious with some trial and error bs thrown in from time to time. i do agree though before Sonic Generations came out, this was the best 3D Sonic game. 

  • Kenichi340

    I thought it was a cool idea making the black hole escape playable, only to make you realize that you can’t outrun it and thought you were screwed. Kind of weird and nitpicking you’d take half a star out of it because of that.

  • I really do love this game, but it has some flaws.  First of all, there are difficulty spikes.  You’ll play one normal level, then a hard one and then an easy one.  It’s pretty irritating.  Secondly, the bosses are all fairly unmemorable.  Also, the opening theme is positively horrid in my opinion.  It’s terrible, autotuned crap, in stark contrast to the main themes of the Sonic Adventure games, or even Sonic Unleashed.  Beyond those flaws, Sonic Colors is a fantastic game.

  • I felt pretty disappointed playing this game, especially after hearing people praise it for being a return to true Sonic form.  

    My ideal 3D Sonic game would be the Sonic levels from Sonic Adventure 1-2 without all the other playable characters, unless they are designed really well instead of being tacked on.  Also, no RPG world stuff from Sonic Adventure 1- I love the levels, but the story and ‘hub world’ are weak points to that game.
    Still, I remember when I played that demo that came with my Dreamcast shortly after launch. It had the first level of Sonic Adventure, and I played that so many times.  There were other levels in the game that were great as well, but the rest of the game surely didn’t mimic the fun I had in that one level.

    Perhaps when Sonic Generations drops in price I might pick it up.

    • Clinton, Clinton, Sonic Generations = 100/10, best Sonic game ever, meets or beets Sonic 3 & Knuckles in terms of quality (and that game is on an UNBELIEVABLY HIGH pedestal in this house.

    • I don’t know.  I’ve heard Generations suffers from the same sort of difficulty spikes that affect Colors.  Personally, I’ve grow wary of any game with the Sonic name on it, but that has more to do with Sega’s track record than recent successes, real or imagined.

    • I played through the game with little-to-average difficulty, and I had fun for the [entire] experience. Not one level is flawed.Got all S ranks too! This is the game I consider the natural progression of S3&K.

      In terms of level design and fanservice, it does exactly what it set out to do.

    • Personally I have no problem with difficulty spikes.  One of my favorite games in the universe is SaGa Frontier after all, which has some of the craziest difficulty spikes.
      Seriously, you’ll be going through different dungeons, some will have weak enemies, then all of a sudden you will come across a dungeon that scales with your level, and if you go at just the right time, the monsters scale a bit above you…so damned difficult.

      Anyway, I’m definitely going to give Sonic Generations a go at some point.  Sega’s best games to me are like catching lightning in a bottle, but they always come with a few problems/glitches.  Games like Sonic Adventure, NiGHTS, Jet Set Radio, etc. all have amazing design mixed with some shortsightedness.

    • Also good to know because I found Sonic 4 to be bland and disappointing as well.

    • dbclick

      Generations is great. I’ve played both Sonic 4 episodes and they feel bland in comparison. IMO Generations is the best console sonic game since S3&K. It only suffers from a lackluster final boss and a few places that are too easy to fall to your death in the 3d sections. Well worth picking up, even more so if you can run it on Steam where it’s on sale for $7.50 right now.

      Colors is good as well, but has a different feel to it (probably due to the running, double jump, water jump mechanics being different.)

  • John Ellis

    Sonic Colours brought Sonic back from the bring of destruction and is one of the best games in the franchise. Yet I still get told by people who haven’t even played it that it’s just another bad Sonic game.

  • This game is wonderful. Like I liked the Adventure games but THIS is the 3D Sonic we always should have gotten. Honestly it is almost on the level of the first Mario/Zelda 3D games, which is high praise. It’s one of “yeah this is fun yeah!” sort of games that makes you so glad to be playing games and proves to me the value of replayability over the total time it takes to beat the game.

    • In no way is this game on the same level of innovation as Mario 64 or Ocarina of Time.

    • Yea, I’d have to agree. Colors isn’t bad but its not even in the same world as Oot and mario 64.

    • I never said it was. I just said it was pure fun-oh the “on the level of” thing ok. Yeah, Mairo 64 and OOT deserve infinitely more credit.