- Developer: Sonic Team
- Publisher: Sega
- Platform: Wii
- Release Date: November 16, 2010 (NA)
- MSRP: $19.99
Before getting started. There is something I must confess. I do not like Sonic the Hedgehog. Not once has a Sonic game brought me anything resembling joy. Part of that could be from not playing them growing up. All my experiences with Sonic have been over the past 2-3 years. I’ve played both Sonic Adventure games, Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic 06, and Sonic Heroes. These games have only brought me pain and blind rage. On to the review.
Sonic Colors was released for the Nintendo Wii in 2010. Developed by Sonic Team, Colors came out at a time when Sonic’s reputation was heavily damaged by Sega releasing several critically panned titles such as Sonic 06 and Sonic and the Black Knight. Sonic Team wanted to get back to basics to make the most of the weak hardware. Let’s see if Sonic Colors can change my view of the franchise.
Sonic Colors begins with Sonic and Tails going into space to visit Eggman’s Amazing Interstellar Amusement Park. I think Eggman has too much time on his hands. The duo is suspicious of Eggman’s intentions and are on the scene to investigate (clearly not here to have a good time). What else would Eggman be doing in a Sonic game? Obviously, Eggman is once again trying to take over the world. Along the way, Sonic befriends these cute little creatures called Wisps. It turns out Eggman is trying to use these little guys to fuel his mind control cannon to force the Earth to become part of his amusement park. For someone who is supposedly a genius, he sure is stupid. Control the world dumbass! You can finally take over the world but instead you’re building an amusement park. Get your shit together man. Anyway, Sonic must stop Eggman from using the Wisps and prevent the Earth from transforming into an amusement park. How exactly does that make Eggman evil? The earth turning into one giant Disney World would be awesome!
Sonic Team was looking to bring the Sonic franchise back to basics. In accordance to this, the story is very simple. Sonic Colors’ simplicity works to its favor. Mascot platformers shouldn’t have ridiculously complicated stories on par with Metal Gear Solid. Sonic Team took over a decade into the new millennium to figure that out. Perhaps the colossal failures of Sonic 06 and Shadow the Hedgehog finally taught Sega a lesson. Unfortunately, not on good business practices (cough…Sonic Boom…cough). Finally, a Sonic game without a stupidly complicated, edgy story.
The gameplay of Sonic Colors is simpler than previous entries in the series. Cutting out the filler content found in the Adventure titles, Sonic is the only playable character. No Knuckles treasure hunting or fishing as Big the Cat. I know many of you may find the absence of Big the Cat disappointing. This makes the game much shorter, clocking in at around 4 hours. Despite the short length, it left a strong impression on me. A short game that provides non-stop fun is far better than a lengthy, mediocre game with unnecessary padding.
Now onto the levels themselves. It’s your standard running Sonic stages, often considered the best part of any 3D Sonic game. Sonic Team decided to bring things back to the basics after pushing unnecessary gimmicks for over a decade. If you enjoyed the day stages in Sonic Unleashed, then you’ll greatly enjoy Colors. This means an emphasis on going fast and well-timed homing attacks. Making its return from Unleashed is the boost mechanic. Boosts are performed by filling up the gauge. To fill up the gauge, the player needs to collect white Wisps (more on Wisps to come). The boost mechanic is an excellent addition to the Sonic series. Being able to blow away enemies while rolling around at the speed of sound is so exhilarating.
Colors implements something akin to quick time events. A button prompt will occasionally pop up at certain sections of the stage. The player will be prompted to perform such actions as sliding under tight spaces or doing tricks in the air. Performing tricks will add to Sonic’s boost gauge.
The game likes to shift from 3D to 2D from time to time. Certain sections of the stage will switch to a 2D, left-to-right camera angle. This may have been done to alleviate Sonic Team’s notorious struggles with designing an adequate camera system in 3D space. One of my biggest frustrations with prior experiences with 3D Sonic was how garbage the camera was. Sonic Colors has one of the better camera systems of any Sonic game. At first, the switch between 3D and 2D may be jarring but are easy to get used to.
Boss battles are the weakest aspect of Sonic Colors. They aren’t that challenging and are reused on occasion. Either the bosses were too easy or infuriatingly cheap. The lack of great boss battles didn’t hurt the overall experience too much.
Perhaps the most notable addition to Sonic Colors was the Wisp powers. These cute little guys grant Sonic unique abilities. Wisps allow Sonic to drill underground, hover, transform into a spike ball, and many other cool abilities. The Wisps spice up the gameplay and added a lot to the franchise. I wish Sega and Sonic Team kept the little guys around in future releases. Sigh…it seems Sonic Team feels the need to reinvent the wheel with each new release.
Despite being released on the Wii, Colors looks fantastic. One of the few good looking 3rd party games released on the console. Everything is so vibrant and colorful (no pun intended). The character models look exceptional and expressive. The space setting allowed for much visual creativity. Lip-synching is decent for a change. There are some visual kinks due to the pathetic hardware of the Wii. Pixilation can be found throughout the game. Sonic Team made the best-looking game they could with what they had to work with. Colors could do with an HD rerelease.
The music in Sonic Colors takes a different turn from the usual buttrock. Unfortunately, no Crush 40 (Jun Senoue) in this game. The soundtrack mostly uses upbeat electro-pop/rock with the occasional orchestral music. Colors’ soundtrack gets the job done, even if it’s not my cup of tea. I’ve always preferred the corny hard rock songs. They’re always so catchy. Even so, Sonic Team always delivers in the music department.
The voice acting was better than previous Sonic games. New voice actors were used, ending the 4Kids era. Sonic is voiced by Roger Craig Smith and Tails by Kate Higgins. Luckily, Mike Pollock reprises his role as Eggman. I’d be hard pressed to imagine someone else playing the good doctor. Overall, the voice acting was well done.
Due to the lighter tone of the game, the dialogue is one the comedic side. As with most comedy, the jokes are hit and miss. The writers for this game worked on Happy Tree Friends. Sometimes it felt they were trying too hard to be funny. There are a few cringeworthy moments. It is a Sonic game after all!
Sonic Colors showed that Sonic isn’t quite dead yet, despite Sega’s numerous attempts to kill the blue blur. It bucked the trend of awful, broken messes that were being released. Sonic was able repair his destroyed reputation to an extent. Sonic Generation would continue the boost formula to yet another success. See Sega, see what happens when you flesh out an idea. You get good results. Then you had to do a bunch meth and release Sonic Boom. I would consider myself someone who strongly dislikes Sonic games. I’ve never had much fun with them. Sonic Colors managed to come together to give me a positive experience (still won’t turn me into a Sonic fan). Not perfect but provided a lot of fun despite the short length.