Sonic Colors Review

By Rob Manuel - Posted Nov 15, 2010

Sonic is back…again. Sonic Colors takes our azure furry friend out of the woods and into Dr. Robotnik's dastardly amusement park of evil. While Colors gets a lot right with the look and keeping to the 2D environments, the new twist on the old gameplay – namely the alien Wisps – will make you wonder if it was worth the price of admission.

The Pros
  • Best Looking Sonic Yet
  • Funny Dialogue
  • Solid 2D Mechanics
The Cons
  • Wisps take away from the core mechanics
  • Short and/or dull levels
  • Still shaky 3D mechanics

Sonic Colors Review:

You can’t go home again. For fans of the speedy blue hedgehog, this a rather bitter pill to swallow. While the series needs to move forward to make a new name for itself, Sonic has remained stubbornly set in his ways try to regain his past glory.  Even Mario has had to implement more tricks that an aging Taiwanese hooker just to keep the customers coming back for more. And with every 3D Wii title, Sonic tries to change the formula just a little in order to push it from simple rehash to revolution, or what I call “trying to break the Sonic Barrier.”

A new challenger to the Sonic crown races his way to the Wii with Sonic Colors. With a name like that, you can expect this newest iteration to be fast, colorful, and mostly the same as the previous Wii titles. Sonic Team tries their hand, yet again, at making a 3D Sonic adventure by adding in Wisps – alien creatures who aid Sonic by giving him special powers. Sometimes when you add a little something new; you have to take something out.

Color-ed Commentary

I can say without hesitation that this is the best looking Sonic game for the Wii. The design team has really created a very fun and creative world that really showcases their artistic muscle. Instead of leaning on staples of the series like generic jungle, generic volcano, or generic desert, Sonic Colors takes place of a handful of planets seized by Dr. Robotnik for his new amusement park. The worlds consist of amalgamations of different genres to create interesting effects such as industrial candylands or underwater Japanese temples. It’s creativity like this the series needs and so often doesn’t get.

But the story, as expected, is a rather jumbled mess that doesn’t really make much sense. Dr. Robotnik under the guise of a reformed villain kidnaps the energy producing Wisps to power his thought control device in order to take over the world. With that said, he’s already managed to acquire five other planets for his diabolical amusement park. How hard is it to get one more? If there is something to keep you from hitting the skip button, it’s the writing. Smart, snappy, and at times (yes, really) funny; the dialogue in Sonic Colors raises the bar for what a Sonic game should be – funny enough for kids but smart enough to keep older gamers’ attention. With the presentation being so varied and unique, it’s just too bad that the rest of the game suffers from stale mechanics.

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Slightly Off Color

Like most Sonic games, the object of the levels is to move from point A to point B as quickly as possible while trying not to hit any of the enemies. Some of the levels really shine and demonstrate really the essence of what a Sonic game should be: a quick and fun journey with multiple areas to explore. These little gems, however, only pop up a couple of times per world. The rest of the time is met with bland construction or terribly short stages whose only purpose is to show off one of the new Wisp powers. While the controls work in the 2D sections, areas with that extra dimension (3D) suffer from the same static camera and Sonic becoming unstuck from the three running lanes the game sets up for him.  This title feels like the closest the team has come to completely removing the 3D elements all together but sometimes it’s hard to cut the apron strings.

The spin dash has always been a trademark move for the radical rodent since his earlier days. Now you need a Wisp for that. These power-ups give Sonic the ability to get through some rather tricky areas by bashing in obstacles or turning certain blocks into rings depending on the type of wisp you’re holding at the time. Other Wisps open up new areas through digging or flying. The problem comes about not being able to save more than one Wisp. Most of the interaction with these powerful tools is then instantaneous. Once you get the Wisp, you use it right away. The handful of extra rings you collect are often not worth the aggravation you spent just to get there. Also, leave my spin dash alone.

Again, the Wisp centric levels are the weakest in the bunch. If you haven’t found the specific Wisp to go along with the level, it’s a short trip to the end that will leave you scratching you head. Some of them like the floating or drilling Wisp are rather difficult to control. The rocket Wisp shoots you straight into the air with little in the way of finesse or strategy to go along with it. In a game set on platforming and speed, the Wisps slow down the pacing of the action, which has always been a trademark of the Sonic series. It might break up the action at times, but I would rather run than float on by.

Color By Numbers

Moving past the main storyline, there are two additional areas that were probably better left on the cutting room floor. The little red coins you keep picking up unlock more areas in the Sonic Co-Op stages, which are less about racing with your friend and more about dragging them along. Moving past the main camera often costs you a life even when you know solid ground or the way out is just off camera. Fortunately, you can play through these stages sans friend if you so choose. There’s also a survival mode lurking in the shadows for anyone brave enough to play stage after stage of Sonic Colors. The weak of heart or attention spans beware this mode.

Bland Colors

Sonic Colors demonstrates there’s still some mileage left in the hedgehog and then piles on mechanics completely alien to the series. At least this time, we didn’t get a giant cat with a fishing pole.  Instead of really focusing on the platforming aspects which made this series great or reinventing it all together, Sonic Colors falls for the trap of trying to cover both and accomplishing nothing. Sonic Team has clearly demonstrated that they know what it takes to make a good game. Now if only they could save themselves from their own franchise.

Still want to play it? Why not rent it at Gamefly?