games / Reviews

Sonic Colors (Wii) Review

December 7, 2010 | Posted by Trace Aber

Game: Sonic Colors
Genre: Platformer
Players: 1-2
Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega
Rated E for Everyone

While the last few years have been rough on Sega’s blue bad boy, 2010 has been an exceptionally strong year. Sonic All-Stars Racing was actually surprisingly good, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 (review here) was a blast, and now Sonic Colors ends the year as another strong Sonic-release. In fact, despite the pre-release hype of this being a good game, it has actually surpassed my expectations and done so with flying colors (pun slightly intended)!

Our story begins with the once-evil Dr. Eggman feeling remorse for some of his past mistakes – namely capturing cute animals and turning them into robotic killing machines. He decides to open up Dr. Eggman’s Interstellar Amusement Park, which is a series of planets chained together to create one totally awesome amusement park. Sonic and Tails are more than a wee-bit suspicious, and they decide to check things out. They find out that Dr. Eggman is up to his old tricks again, this time enslaving the aliens known as Wisps, to harness their power for rather dubious means. Sonic and Tails, being the heroes they are, decide to stop Eggman by…harnessing the power of the Wisps. Ok, so the story could use a little work, but it’s hard to come up with a reasonable explanation for a game world like Sonic to exist in.

How do you explain this?

One of the biggest things you’ll notice about Colors is that its gameplay it shockingly solid, and borders on great. The physics are well-done and react how you would expect and hope to most of the time, one of the big complaints in Sonic 4. The controls take some getting used to (I prefer the classic controller myself), but once you learn how to navigate you’ll be up and running in no time. But what makes the gameplay so fun and diverse are the Wisps, one of the few Sonic gimmicks that actually work.

There are eight different colored Wisps in all, with each one granting Sonic a special ability. The white ones give Sonic a speed boost, while orange Wisps enable a rocket-powered boost. Other wisps allow Sonic to chomp through anything in his path or even drill through the ground. Some of them, such as the cyan Wisps that turn Sonic into a wall-bouncing laser, require some precision and can interrupt the flow of the game, but this is a rare case where that’s not a bad thing.

See, while most Sonic games relied on simply going as fast as possible to reach the end of the level, Sonic Colors tries to change the game design and, for the first time in years, gets it right. Colors asks players to explore the levels, find the hidden alternate paths, collect the red rings, and sometimes even complete a few chase scenes. It’s perfectly acceptable to rush through the levels and ignore the Wisps, but you’re missing out on half the fun! Each level has so many different areas to explore, and some that you can only access when going back on a second playthrough once you’ve unlocked more Wisps. Sonic hasn’t felt this fresh in years, and outside of maybe the Sonic Adventure series, no other Sonic game has had this much depth.

That’s not to say that speed isn’t a necessary element of the game. At the end of each level your performance is based on your total score and time, and ranked on a graded scale, like other Sonic games in the past. There are still precise –timing platform mechanics that we’ve all come to know and love, and many of the standard level themes can be found in colors (including my favorite – casinos), so the game doesn’t entirely deviate from the formula.

My biggest complaint with Colors has to be the ridiculous amount of death traps as you inch closer to the end of the game. There was many times where I felt like giving up on the title simply because of lazy level design. Thankfully, these spots do not make up the bulk of the game, though some may be put off by the fact that unlike many modern platformers where you can pick and choose your level, you have to complete each level to proceed.

Fun Fact: Sonic the Hedgehog is partially responsible for my hatred of water levels

There’s a pretty lame co-op mode, though you can thankfully play it by yourself. These are shorter levels that have you controlling “Sonic-bots” to complete a challenge and earn a Chaos Emerald. And, yes, this means that Super Sonic is available. Unfortunately, when you play this with a friend you’re more than likely to die because one of you are going faster than the other, and if one person goes off screen somebody is dying. Having two Sonics on the same screen was a bad idea to begin with, and while you can be patient while playing to avoid these deaths, it’s just not as fun.

Graphically, the game combines both 2D and 3D gameplay to create a visually impressive world and some unique gameplay moments. If you’re played the daytime levels in Sonic Unleashed, then you know what to expect. At times you’re simply running around a 2D plane and other times you’re zipping past enemies with full 3D movement. The levels are varied and look great visually no matter how fast you’re going. Given the theme of the game, Sonic Team was able to create some truly unique and interesting environments, including one where giant cheeseburgers float in the sky. Everything moves smoothly and is one of the best looking games to come out on the Wii this year.

Voice acting has always been pretty harsh on Sonic games, but Colors even manages to correct that a bit. Sure, it’s not going to win any awards, but at no point did I feel annoyed or even embarrassed as I did with past games, which is an achievement in its own right. There are even a few funny lines in there to boot; including one where Sonic admits that messing up Eggman’s plans is pretty much all they do with their time. The soundtrack isn’t my cup of tea, but there are a few catchy tracks and they all fit within the game for the most part, so there isn’t a whole lot to complain about.

-One of the best looking Wii titles of 2010
-Wisps breathe new life into this old Hedgehog
-Voice acting is pretty decent
-This is a GOOD Sonic game

-Too many death-traps
-Underwhelming co-op mode

The 411
Sonic Colors is what many of us had hoped for in a current-gen Sonic game, as it successfully combines the most popular elements from the previous games and the brand new Wisps, which essentially comes down to eight “super powers” for Sonic. They didn’t overload us with horrible gimmicks or annoying extra characters – they just gave us a great Sonic game. It’s not a perfect game by any means, but it’s an absolute understatement to say this game is good – this game is easily the best console-Sonic game since the Sonic Adventure games. If this is a sign of things to come, the future might not look so bad for Sonic.

Graphics8.5A top contender for best looking Wii game, with everything running smooth and looking great411 Elite Award
Gameplay9.0Despite some flaws later on in the game, each level is well designed with plenty of alternate routes to explore 
Sound8.0While your mileage may vary on the soundtrack, the voice acting is some of the best I've heard for a Sonic game 
Lasting Appeal8.0There's roughly around 10-12 hours of gameplay if you're just trying to go through the levels, but the challenges will add some extra playtime as well 
Fun Factor 9.0This is the best 3D Sonic game I've played since the last Sonic Adventure game, and for fans waiting for that next great Sonic game, your wait is over! 
Overall8.5   [ Very Good ]  legend

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Trace Aber
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